PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.
Opening Day is only four days away and the Mets lead the majors in all the wrong statistical categories: Maybes, Probablys, Likelys, Possiblys and the always popular W.A.S. - Wait and Sees.
For $135 million, the highest payroll in the National League, the Mets have bought themselves a roster filled with more questions than your average 5-year-old. The only thing they know for sure is something the Mets wish they didn't - that both Jose Reyes and Daniel Murphy will open the season on the disabled list.
The Mets were hopeful that Reyes could make it back from his thyroid issues to play Monday, but there just wasn't enough time. Despite his rapid progress, the Mets want him healthy for the long haul and they believe the best chance of that is for him to accumulate more at-bats in Florida before returning to the lineup.
As for Murphy, Omar Minaya relayed the news after yesterday's game, and a somber Murphy followed with additional details about the Grade 1 sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
It's beginning to look a lot like 2009 again with the Mets, and the timing could not be worse for a team that finished 70-92 a year ago. The club's new advertising campaign, "We Believe in Comebacks," should be replaced by "Back to the Future."
When the Citi Field gates open on Monday, it will be Alex Cora at shortstop and Mike Jacobs at first base. Not exactly how the Mets drew it up this winter. It's even more unsettling that the Mets have so many balls still in the air on April Fools' Day.
As of Wednesday morning, these were the only positions 100 percent locked up: third base, second base, rightfield, leftfield, the No. 1 starter and closer. That's it. The Mets had yet to decide officially the rotation or name a starting catcher, centerfielder, shortstop or first baseman.
And bullpen roles? Forget it. Manuel has waved the white flag at finding an eighth-inning setup reliever for Francisco Rodriguez. That role will be filled by a committee that probably won't be known for certain until the bullpen phone rings in the eighth inning Monday afternoon.
"We have to really come up with the right group down there," Manuel said. "The one good thing I feel is that we have some depth in those numbers."
Here's the problem with having too many options: It usually means that no one has been good enough to step up and win the job outright. The rotation is another example of the Mets' uncertainty. Before the Grapefruit League schedule began, the Mets built it around Johan Santana, with Mike Pelfrey slotted in the No. 2 hole, followed by Oliver Perez, John Maine and Jon Niese.
But those plans disintegrated in the final week, with Manuel finally announcing after yesterday's game that Maine would start Wednesday against the Marlins, then Niese in the series finale with Florida at Citi Field.
Pelfrey now has been assigned to face the Nationals on Friday with Perez getting the final turn on Saturday. On top of that, Manuel said that Perez would be available for bullpen duty in the days leading up to his first start - as if the manager seriously would consider using him more than he absolutely had to after a disappointing spring.
It's getting late for this many adjustments. The Mets have until 3 p.m. Sunday to submit their 25-man roster to the commissioner's office and they might need every minute of that to come up with some answers.