The New York Mets are rebuilding. From the checkbook and front office, all the way down to the bench. The 2011 season features (for now) many New York Mets familiars such as SS Jose Reyes (who is entering his contract year), starting right-hander Mike Pelfrey and the ever-positive third baseman and big bat, David Wright.
But Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins will also be rolling out some fresh new faces.
The most noteworthy of these new faces is Brad Emaus, who will be replacing Luis Castillo (and his bloated contract) as the Mets' starting second baseman.
What's noteworthy about Emaus? Well, he's never had a major league start.
It's possible, probable even, that Emaus earned the slot merely by proving himself "good enough" to allow for the release of Castillo without pigeon-holing utility-man Daniel Murphy.
But let's not write Emaus off into mediocrity.
In 2010, playing for Toronto's Las Vegas 51s, Emaus batted a solid .298/.395/.495. Granted, that's Triple-A and this is the majors but, Emaus' spring training numbers (.294/.400/.431) suggest his play won't be much different now that he's getting the big league nod.
Having a player that prides himself on his ability to get on base can be just as valuable as one who strikes out as often as he homers.
Other new faces include pitchers Chris Young and Chris Capuano.
Capuano will be looking to regain his pre-2007 relevance after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery three years ago.
Young—the more promising of the two acquisitions—looks to make a comeback from his 2009 shoulder surgery. Since then he's seen just four starts in 2010 (20 IP, 10 H, 15 SO).
Eyes will also be on Ike Davis. The first baseman enters his sophomore season with the Mets and will look to soar more than slump. Last season he batted .264/.351/.440. His defense is solid, but his 19 homers (while respectable) aren't enough to make up for such average percentages. Overcoming that hurdle will be the difference between Davis being a franchise face or merely an above average place holder.
Fans will also be hoping to see Jason Bay deliver the goods he promised when he was signed over a year ago. Last year's six home runs to 2009's 36 was more than disappointing and having him finish the season on the DL with a concussion would've been a slap in the face if Mets fans cared about him at all by that point.
But, with a new season comes new hope. Leave it to a Met to dash those dreams before Opening Day: Jason Bay will start the season on the 15-day DL with a strained rib cage.
New GM Sandy Alderson and Manager Terry Collins are also on the "players" to watch list. Both will undoubtedly be loved or loathed by the All-Star break depending on how their new acquisitions perform and how they handle fan-favorite Jose Reyes' impending free agency.
So far, though, Mets fans can be optimistic about nearly everything. Carlos Beltran should be healthy enough to start the season. The Mets' pitching rotation starts at solid and has potential to be great, depending on the Chris' performance. The IF's defensive stats are well-proven (or at least well-backed up).
All signs point to a winning season for the Mets. What remains to be seen is whether any of these up-and-comers, and potential comebacks will bring enough for the Mets to be contenders against division powerhouses Atlanta and Philadelphia.