The New York Mets head into the 2012 season with as many question marks as they have unknown players. Aside from David Wright and Johan Santana, few casual baseball fans would be able to name more than a few others from this team. However, all of the other non-star players must take it upon themselves to make a name for themselves.
This all begins with Spring Training. While Spring Training isn't always the best indicator of how a player will fare in the regular season, it is the time where teams decide where their problem areas may be. The Mets have a lot of question marks on this roster and these five guys have a lot to prove to the organization.
It is no secret that Jason Bay has been a huge disappointment in New York. After signing a four-year $66 million contract two seasons ago, Bay has contributed little to the Mets offense. All of his numbers are down, especially his home run and RBI totals, which are alarming.
The Mets have moved the fences in at Citi Field, so Bay may benefit some from that, but he will have to up his productivity if he wants to remain an everyday player. Bay will have to show some signs of life in Spring Training so the Mets can figure out whether or not they may need help in left field.
Daniel Murphy saw some success in 2011 while seeing regular at-bats at first and second base. However, he went down with a knee injury that ended his season prematurely. Justin Turner had a productive year in his absence at second, and with the return of Ike Davis at first will cause a competition for Murphy.
It should be Murphy's job to lose at second base, but he can't get complacent because he has to prove he is healthy and has returned to form. The Mets will use Spring Training to evaluate Murphy's progress and he will have to show the team he is ready to regain his old role.
Dillon Gee stepped into a regular role last season since Johan Santana was unable to return from shoulder surgery. Gee had his ups and downs after getting off to a fast 8-1 start. He projects to be at the back end of the Mets rotation this year, but he has far from locked up the spot.
Gee will have to convince the team that he is worthy of a spot in the rotation since young guns Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia wait in the wings. Gee is the front-runner for the job, but if he doesn't have a strong spring, he may find himself in a long relief position.
Ike Davis got off to a scorching start in 2011, but a collision with teammate David Wright caused him to miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Davis narrowly avoided microfracture surgery last season and he saw continued setbacks. His ankle is still a concern and until he sees regular playing time, that will continue to be the case.
Ike will have to show that Mets that his ankle is good to go for this season because if he is still hobbled by it, they may need to make other arrangements to platoon with him at first. Davis will need to have a strong spring to ease the minds of the Mets management and any others who doubt his recovery.
After having supposed to have been back around the All-Star break in 2011, Johan Santana never made it back. Recovering from surgery to repair a torn shoulder capsule, Santana only managed to make a few rehab starts last season.
This year, Santana looks as if he's ready to return, although the Mets will likely ease him back into action. He most likely won't pitch very deep into games at first, and they will probably give him added rest days so his shoulder can get used to the rigors of pitching regularly again.
Spring Training is crucial for Johan Santana this year because the Mets will look to gauge his progress and how they should manage his schedule. If he is sorer than he should be, then the Mets may rest him more and the team will look to see if he really has much left in that left arm. If Santana struggles or re-injures himself, the Mets will be in for an even longer season than most think.