The New York Mets came into the 2012 regular season with few expectations, but have managed to start off the season with a respectable 24-21 record. Third baseman David Wright is having an incredible start to the season, hitting .405 so far, and starting pitcher R.A. Dickey is consistently giving the Mets quality starts.
However, there are still improvements that could be made for Terry Collins' squad.
Here are five questions that the Mets would love to have answers to soon.
(All stats are from ESPN.com)
The Mets spent the offseason trying to bolster a bullpen that experienced major struggles in 2011. However, the new names have not stopped the Mets' bullpen from blowing nine games so far this season.
While some relievers have been absolutely horrendous so far (Manny Acosta and D.J. Carrasco come to mind), closer Frank Francisco has been solid at times, yet wildly inconsistent.
Francisco has an ERA of 6.75 this season as well as a stretch where he gave up six runs in only 1 2/3 innings. However, he started out the year strong (three saves in the first three games), and has played well since Collins announced that he will remain the closer after his horrible stretch.
While it looks like Francisco will remain the closer, don't be surprised if Jon Rauch or Bobby Parnell get some save opportunities in the upcoming weeks, should Francisco struggle.
Jason Bay has been out since April 23 with a broken rib. During Bay's absence, many players saw increased playing time, including Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Scott Hairston.
The question is, when Jason Bay comes back, what will the outfield look like?
Lucas Duda's job at right field is safe, but after that, no one really knows what to expect.
Jason Bay, despite his .240 average, is the starter and will most likely continue to start when he returns, but it would make sense for him to play DH whenever he can (interleague play resumes in less than a month). Andres Torres' job seemed safe, but a 1-33 skid and a drop in the batting order changed that.
Then there is Baxter, Nieuwenhuis and Hairston. While it looks like the three of them will return to the bench, Bay's injury history and Torres' inconsistency may lead to an occasional start at left field or center field for any of them.
All three of them have been successful pinch hitters this season, so regardless of whether they start or not, they will all play a part in helping the Mets build on this strong start.
When the Mets announced that Mike Pelfrey and Tommy John needed surgery and would miss the remainder of the season, some Mets fans panicked. While Pelfrey was far from a superstar, he was simply a better starting pitcher than anyone else on the Mets roster.
Then, the replacement, Miguel Batitsa was put on the DL as well, leaving Jeremy Hefner as the Mets' No. 5 pitcher.
After a solid first outing, Hefner struggled last night against the Padres. After retiring six of the first seven batters before the rain delay, Hefner struggled getting Padres out once he stepped back on the field. He finished his night after 3.2 innings and six earned runs.
While Hefner has done enough to get another shot at starting pitcher, another bad game or two will have Mets fans calling for minor leaguers Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey.
After a solid rookie campaign and a good start to his second season, Ike Davis was thought to be one of the cornerstones of the Mets.
It's crazy how much can change in two months.
Davis has struggled mightily thus far this season, batting .164 and sporting a mediocre on-base percentage of .218. The Mets are also benching him in favor of Vinny Rottino when they are facing left-handed pitchers.
Davis has shown the Mets and their fans that he can succeed in the bigs. Ike now has to work hard to keep improving his swing and to get it back to where it was at the beginning of last season.
The Mets do not want to demote Davis to AAA Buffalo, but if Davis does not show signs of improvement in the next few weeks, they will have no choice but to send him down.
(NOTE: The author still believes that Ike Davis can be a franchise player. He simply has the talent to be one.)
Nobody can deny that David Wright is having an incredible season so far. His hitting has been incredible and his fielding has improved.
In addition, Wright, who has been a Met since 2004, is undoubtedly the Mets' leader in the clubhouse as well.
But Wright is in the last year of his contract, and what to do next with him is tricky.
The argument to keep him is pretty simple. As Matthew Cerrone from metsblog.com explains:
Wright has been a loyal soldier on and off the field for this franchise during a time when they needed it most; he’s a good guy; he doesn’t get in to trouble; he’s a leader; fans and his teammates look up to him; and—oh, by the way, following two rough seasons—he’s playing incredibly well on field and in the batter’s box.
Wright is one of those special players that everyone around the league wishes they could have. In addition, losing Wright would likely hurt the Mets' already low attendance rate .
However, there is also an argument in not resigning him. As Cerrone and many others point out, it is always risky giving a large contract to someone over 30 years old. It is just too hard to predict what they will be able to accomplish in their 30s.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson has not mentioned anything relating to trading Wright at the trade deadline, so it seems like they're serious about keeping Wright. However, to avoid any future drama, they should name David Wright captain some time this season.
That's right—Wright has earned a C on his jersey. If the Mets are that serious about keeping him, they will do this.
(If they are not serious about keeping him, they should not wait until the offseason. His stock will never be higher than it currently is. But hopefully Mets fans don't need to think about that.)
David Wright should be named captain soon, which would all but guarantee him a well-deserved extension.