New York Mets on the Offensive: Can They Slug Their Way into Contention?

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New York Mets on the Offensive: Can They Slug Their Way into Contention?
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Will Carlos Beltran be healthy enough to give the Mets offense a boost in 2011?

As I was watching today's spring training game on SNY between the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves, Mets GM Sandy Alderson spent some time in the broadcast booth with Kevin Burkhardt and Keith Hernandez.

Alderson was asked by Hernandez about defense vs. offense at the second base position with the earlier release of Luis Castillo.

Alderson's answer was pretty interesting. He said that you need at least a little bit of offense at every position, which provokes an interesting thought with this team. Can the Mets' offense do enough to keep them in contention this season?

Initially, I would say no. I did not see a lot over last year to make me think that there's enough offensive consistency to last for 162 games.

Now, in all likelihood, nobody is going to tear it up from wire to wire. However, with the Mets, it just seems that when it falls apart, it all falls apart.

Last season, the Mets were 22nd out of 30 Major League clubs with a team batting average of .249.

For now, you can leave Ike Davis out of this conversation, as he was a rookie last and he actually made it a good one.

Now, I know that, towards the end of the season, that number was skewed by the fact that the Mets were out of contention, and a lot of younger players got some unexpected playing time. Therefore, the numbers would not be where you would like.

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However, David Wright had 161 strikeouts, which places him third on the Mets all-time list for strikeouts. We all know about the injury plights of Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, and Carlos Beltran. Throw in sub-standard offensive in 2010 from Jeff Francoeur, Luis Catillo, and Rod Barajas—all of whom are no longer Mets—and you had some dreadful numbers.

Now, let's get to the positives.

We already mentioned Davis. You figured that there's no way the other guys could have such debacles from last year on both the offensive and injury fronts, and Davis will look to bump up his power numbers.

Wright will look to cut down on his strikeouts, which could result in more RBI. Bay needs to show that he is still a legit slugger, Reyes needs to be healthy in order to be productive, and Angel Pagan needs to continue his surge that ultimately landed him the center field job.

That brings us to Carlos Beltran.

Assuming that he can recover from his lingering injuries, you figure that Beltran will at least be two-thirds of what he was in his prime. If you can get that, it will be a welcome sight for Mets fans and Beltran, who is in the walk year of his contract.

After all, he will most likely be the buffer between David Wright and Jason Bay in the middle of the Mets' lineup, when healthy.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Josh Thole could be one of the offensive leaders of the future for the Mets.

Josh Thole will provide a nice spark at the bottom of the order, but don't ask me who's playing second base and hitting eighth.

There are a lot of questions to be answered by this Mets offense.

Sandy Alderson can answer a couple. Terry Collins can answer a couple. Maybe even hitting coach Dave Hudgens can answer a few, as well.

When it's all said and done, the answers will come on the field. Just look for the numbers one through eight on your lineup card.

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