Johan Santana, Jason Bay and 10 New York Mets to Worry About in 2011
Which New York Mets players pose some questions and concerns for the upcoming and debut season for GM Sandy Alderson and Manager Terry Collins?
The first concerns are the unknowns.
Will starting and bullpen pitching be acquired?
Will our farm system be raided to acquire talent just to be in the middle of the pack?
In any case, there are some concerns and worries on the current roster. Johan Santana's return is approximated to be by the All Star break. Will the surgery be successful and return him to the Santana we traded for?
Jason Bay knocked himself silly in a disastrous season for his Mets debut. All healed from his nasty bout with a fence and one heck of a catch, will he produce numbers like he did for the BoSox?
Those questions loom large. What 10 other worries do the Mets Have? I dare say 10 might be a low number. Manager Terry Collins may even be worrisome if he does not the respect of his title.
Mike Pelfrey has demonstrated that he can be dominant or dominated. Last season, he outdueled Ubaldo Jiminez in a struggle at Citi, winning 1-0. In fact, in Pelfrey’s first 15 starts, through June last year his record was 10-2 with a 2.71 ERA. Impressive numbers heading towards recognition as a strong number two. Starting in April he will be the number one unless there is a miracle acquisition of a better pitcher.
Pelfrey went to Puerto Rico and imploded versus the Marlins and he was looking like a 1962 Met. Pelfrey's record by July 26th was 0-3 with a 9.59 ERA and a 1.107 OPS against. It was a miraculous reversal of fortune.
Which Pelfrey opens the season? The Mets are banking on the former. I'd be worried.
Jose Jose Jose Jose!
Jose Reyes is the catalyst for the Mets offense. He has the all time records for triples and stolen bases for the Mets and the team exercised their $11 million option for next season. 2011 will determine the Met fate of Reyes.
Does that result in another lagging injury? Does he ingest a boat load of seafood this off season, tinkering with his thyroid? There are no secrets about the Mets won loss and the disparity of the same with or without Reyes. He is no liability in the field. Perhaps he has matured and developed an off switch. I'm worried that in a walk year, Jose will not only be playing for the Mets, he will be playing for his baseball future and sometimes going "all out" doesn't add up to a full season for this excellent shortstop.
Interestingly enough, the Mets have fired their conditioning coach.
Is R.A. Dickey a "flash in the pan"?
Arguably the savior of anything good for the Mets this year was outings featuring our resident knuckle baller. His record for 2010 in 27 games pitched was 11-9 with an ERA of 2.84. He struck out 104 while walking 42. His record should have been even better.
Dickey has been around for a long time, but the resurgence came with mastering the knuckle ball. Will his numbers be the same? Can he become the Mets rendition of Wakefield? Behind Pelfry and Niese and awaiting Santana, can he be the heroic junk ball man the Mets got used to in 2010? His bat helped as well and that is hoping for less anemia from the real bats. He is a clubhouse helper though and he was reliable last year and more so than his pitching compadres. Fingers crossed?
Francisco Rodriguez Or K-Rod?
Legal woes aside, is Francisco Rodriguez ready to compete? Will he be the closer and earn a lot of cash doing so by incentives?
Last season, he appeared in 53 games, saving 25, and blowing five saves. He had some K-Rod like numbers, but his season was defunct because of violent behavior resulting in criminal charges. In his family scuffle, he suffered an injury, was disqualified due to his inability to perform, and reinstated.
Will his demeanor remain explosive? Will he regain form considering off season thumb surgery? Is he a clubhouse/bullpen detriment? Terry Collins will weigh in here. Will the Mets trade or acquire for a closer and use K-Rod as a set up man thereby nullifying some fiscal recognition.
How will he react to that? Who knows? If we manage to get a lead, we need to close the game.
Luis Castillo Lethargy, Attitude, and Legs
Luis Castillo is only holding on by a much maligned contract.
We need to worry about him being a pouter in the dug out or clubhouse and taking at bats away from young players that have a hot streak or in need of assessment.
Luis offers nothing to the club and will not have any suitors unless it's an exchange of gross contracts/players. He can't stand up right now after any exertion and straighten his legs. With the acquisition of Hu, 26, the rookie journeyman SS/2b from Japan and the minors, one would figure that Luis is expendable, but not at the cost of his contract.
So you may see Murphy/Emaus/Hu or even Justin Turner sit on his behalf. No upside here and a concern for a team rebuilding in every area.
Carlos Beltran To Knee Or Not To Knee
Carlos Beltran will be paid $18.5 million in 2011. Will he return to form? This amazingly talented outfielder that has won many awards given his level of play has a lot to prove. He is in the twilight of his career. He may be asked to move to right field given the defense played by Angel Pagan, which at this point in time is markedly better than Beltran.
How does he handle the shift? He had a shaky situation with his surgery and management. Can he respond to the lack of trust and confidence with a winning attitude. Is he really as competitive as people have been lead to believe? In 2006, Carlos hit .275 with 41 home runs. His plate appearances, at bats, home runs and RBI's have declined somewhat due to injury.
Is he healed and is his age and the ability to recover going to be a factor?
Fernando Martinez F Mart Or K Mart
In the event there are no acquisitions to be made and we need a fourth outfielder or a reserve, is Fernando Martinez healthy?
Many managers at the Minor League level have sung the praises of this young man and when he came up to the pros he did not produce, batting .176 and .167 respectively. He has never played a full season and a determination needs to be made about his capabilities and his ability to produce and stay healthy. He will make his usual appearance and may just be on the starting roster given the status of the outfield as it is today. He makes me nervous every time he bats.
Josh Thole Seasoned?
Josh Thole has shown a ton of potential, hits for average and some pop. He appears durable and able to physically deal with the "tools of ignorance."
Can he be the regular starting catcher, backed up by Ronny Paulino?
Can he call games in accord with Terry Collins' wishes?
Does he have he defensive skills to throw out bandits, captain the infield and make the put out on throws from the outfield?
That remains to be seen.
He is certainly developing something appealing about him, choking up and still hitting a few dingers and reaching gaps. Hope his conversion to catcher was the right call and he can make it through the rigors of an MLB season.
Has he been "stretched" enough to join the starting rotation?
This young pitcher has demonstrated dominance and vulnerability with injuries twice last year shelving him for part of the season and eventually shutting him down.
Did we rush him into the mix to meet a need and thereby resulting in injury?
Will he compete for a spot on the starting rotation?
He is a candidate for sure, given our acquisition status as of today. He may need more development and it would be worth giving him a full season of Bison ball as a starter before going full tilt at the next level.
Hopefully he remains a Met as he is a very desirable chip in the opinion of other teams and trades being touted as the New York Mets' top prospect.
Oliver Perez: No Worries, Getting Paid Anyway
Oliver Perez is an enigma that we have to own up and opt out.
I would cease all worries and grant him exodus and eat crow.
He has destroyed his career and who knows why?
He is erratic, walks more batters than there are dogs walked in the country and gives up the long ball all in one inning. How does he see any light?
Alderson is saying all must perform and particularly in the context of Ollie. Another brilliant signing with no return value from anyone. Is he going to the bullpen for mop up duties when the game is lost beyond repair? Does he spot start? In any capacity, other players must believe that management is allowing this to happen and they have different expectations.
Perhaps they should put him on Craig's List?
Ike Davis begets an honorable mention here for worriers. Will he have a sophomore slump (or did that happen last year as a rookie)? His defense is great and his patience at the plate is short. Maturity will help this young man. He is our 1B for the future.
Other honorable mentions are the bullpen (what bullpen?), Terry Collins and the Clubhouse, and a weak farm system with limited prospects. The platoon potential at 2B; we have another potential Murphy experiment, Emaus as his partner, and Hu in the mix.
It will be nothing less than interesting and hopefully not too too painful to watch. Our regulars have to step up and inspire those that are angst provoking.