With only 10 days until Opening Day, the Mets will have some tough decisions to make as they narrow their active roster down to 25.
They still have not named a starting second baseman, for one. There is uncertainty around whether Carlos Beltran will be starting the season in right field or on the disabled list.
I think that about 90 percent of the roster is set in stone, so I will try to fill in the blanks and predict the 25 men who will make the final cut come April 1st.
We know of course that David Wright, Jose Reyes, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Jason Bay and Angel Pagan will be in the lineup nearly every day. I believe that at the end of the day, Brad Emaus will be the starting second baseman.
If Beltran is in right field, great. If he's not ready by the start of the season, Scott Hairston will likely get the nod as he's had a terrific spring. The Mets can platoon Hairston with Willie Harris until Beltran is ready to go.
Even if Beltran is healthy, I believe Hairston and Harris have definitely proven their worth and will make the team regardless. They'll be the back-up outfielders.
With back-up catcher Ronny Paulino serving the final eight games of his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs from last season, I think Mike Nickeas will get the call to break camp for the first week or so of the season.
I think Justin Turner will be optioned down to Buffalo to start the season, but we have definitely not seen the last of him. It would be foolish to write him off just yet.
Daniel Murphy is the best left-handed power bat on the bench, and I think he'll make the team as a utility player and pinch-hit specialist. The Mets don't trust his glove on an every day basis, but the kid can hit.
Chin-lung Hu will likely get the final bench spot, which means Luis Hernandez and Nick Evans will have to pass through waivers to stay with the team. I think there's a decent shot one or both of them clear waivers, but it's impossible to predict that.
Among the pitchers, we know what the rotation is going to be. Mike Pelfrey will be the Opening Day starter, followed in some order by Jon Niese, R.A. Dickey, Chris Young, and Chris Capuano.
The bullpen is usually the hardest part of the roster to pin down, but I'm pretty confident in five of the seven guys I think will make the team. Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz and Tim Byrdak will all likely make the team.
That means there are two roster spots available for two more pitchers, meaning a couple of guys are going to be out of luck. Righty Blaine Boyer and lefty Mike O'Connor have been tremendous this spring, but both are on minor-league deals.
Because of that, I believe both Boyer and O'Connor will begin the season with the Buffalo Bisons, and they'll be the first men up when the Mets need to call up some relievers.
I think that Rule V pick Pedro Beato gets one of those two final roster spots. Like Brad Emaus, the Mets will probably try to hold onto Beato because of his Rule V status, and he's probably the hardest thrower the Mets have in camp this spring.
So the final roster spot will be between Manny Acosta, Pat Misch, and Jason Isringhausen. If Isringhausen is healthy, he's going to get that final bullpen spot.
That means Acosta and Misch will have to be passed through waivers like Luis Hernandez and Nick Evans. The four of them could also be traded before they're placed on waivers, but who knows.
Among those four players, only Pat Misch has the contractual right to declare himself a free agent after he passes through waivers. If the others go through the waiver process unclaimed, they will be optioned to Buffalo.
So let's recap! My 25-man Opening Day Roster:
- Mike Pelfrey
- Jon Niese
- R.A. Dickey
- Chris Young
- Chris Capuano
- Francisco Rodriguez
- Bobby Parnell
- Taylor Buchholz
- D.J. Carrasco
- Pedro Beato
- Tim Byrdak
- Jason Isringhausen
- David Wright
- Jose Reyes
- Ike Davis
- Josh Thole
- Brad Emaus
- Daniel Murphy
- Mike Nickeas
- Chin-lung Hu
- Jason Bay
- Angel Pagan
- Carlos Beltran
- Scott Hairston
- Willie Harris
That's my roster and I'm sticking to it.
But in case Beltran starts the year on the DL, it will be a coin-flip between Luis Hernandez and Nick Evans for that final bench spot. If I was a betting man, I'd lean towards Evans because he has played outfield in the past.
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