Spring is in the air. Well, in Florida it is. Here's a look at the 2011Mets. For the position players, it resembles the same team.
Here's a look:
C: Josh Thole. He can hit for average (.277) but his power numbers (3 homers, 17 runs batted in) over 73 games last season just are not enough for the position. Still, he’s young and deserves a chance to prove he more than another high average, low power catcher like Paul Lo Duca.
1B: Ike Davis. He has Gold Glove quality defense and even if his father, former Yankee Ron Davis, thinks his son isn’t a home run hitter, the Mets are hoping he does better than the 19 he hit as a rookie. Citi Field does not swallow his power, so 30 dingers and 100 RBIs is certainly not out of the question.
2B: Luis Castillo or Daniel Murphy? Everyone wants to see Murphy--or anyone but Castillo. Murphy seems to have potential as a hitter, but first he has to win the job over Castillo, who is owed $6 million pass or fail. Murphy has not been in the majors since 2009. He was injured last year and lost what would have been a job at first to Davis.
3B: David Wright. His power returned with 29 home runs, yet all wait for that monster year. Cut down the strikeouts and the long slumps and he will reach elite status. Easier written than done.
SS: Jose Reyes. He’s in his walk, make that run year with the Mets. If he can stay healthy, which has become syonymous with his name, a huge contract extension or free agent deal will await him. He’s never had more incentive to get with the program. Look for 60 stolen bases and a bunch of doubles and triples. Or, a gloomy figure on the bench with a pulled hamstring.
LF Jason Bay. It’s not the post concussion, it’s whether he can adjust his swing to the Citi Field dimensions. A .259 batting average with six home runs and 47 runs batted in was a brutal start to his Mets career. He likes to homer in Puerto Rico, but the Mets aren’t moving there, we don’t think.
CF Carlos Beltran. First, he has to stay healthy. Second, he has to emerge from spring training winning his own job. Third, he has to hit. All seem iffy.
RF Angel Pagan: If he’s in center, the Mets have better defense but a presumably unhappy and perhaps broken down Beltran. Pagan (.290, 11, 69) had a nice year. He’s more than a part time player and he proved it.
Mike Pelfrey (15-9, 3.66): He’s not Johan Santana, but neither is Santana, who is out for at least the first half. Pelfrey has a huge task as the No. 1 starter and probable stopper. If he fails, the Mets are in big trouble right away.
R.A. Dickey (11-9, 2.84): Finally got a well-deserved contract. Now, he has to earn it with the quirky and unpredictable knuckleball.
Jon Niese (9-10, 4.20): Struggled down the stretch. With question marks in the rotation after after him, he can’t afford to be questionable himself.
Who cares how they get the ball to Francisco Rodriguez. The closer is the big story on many levels. If K-Rod gets over 50 save opportunities, the Mets have fared well. And he closes in on $17 million for 2012. Don't bet on it.