New York Mets Early Concerns: We May Have a Problem

Robert KnapelCorrespondent IApril 13, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11:  Mike Pelfrey #34 of the New York Mets deals a pitch against the Colorado Rockies on April 11, 2011 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Mets have played just 10 games this year, but it is not too early to be concerned about some of the team’s issues.

I am giving the disclaimer in advance that we are dealing with small sample sizes at this point of the year.

It is early, but the team is currently sitting in last place in the NL East. While the Mets won’t spend the year in the cellar, there are some issues that will certainly keep them from competition for a playoff spot.

Mike Pelfrey’s struggles are obviously the first and most salient of the team’s issues.

Pelf’s first three starts can be characterized as nothing other than ugly; he has failed to deliver a quality start yet this season.

Some of Pelfrey’s struggles have been tied to the fact that he has been unlucky this season: He has a .348 BABIP, which is well above his .308 career average.

In addition, his ground-ball rate is just 43.5 percent, which is well below his career average of 49.3 percent.

Pelfrey will undoubtedly right the ship, but the question is what type of pitcher will he be. He is not an ace and he is not a No. 2. With a career strikeout rate of 5.10 K/9 and a walk rate of 3.34 BB/9 to go along with a 4.42 ERA, it is hard to even see Pelfrey as a No. 3.

Pelfrey has a career 93 ERA-plus—this is below league average.

It may be time to realize that, even though he has turned in a few good seasons, Pelfrey is nothing more than a No. 4 starter. Since this may in fact be the case, the Mets need someone they can count on to act as an ace until Johan Santana returns.

The Mets bullpen also appears to be another area of concern.

Because of the struggles of the rotation, they Mets bullpen has bullpen has been taxed and has one of the worst ERAs in the NL.

Part of this can be attributed to some of the same issues that Pelfrey is facing. The bullpen has a very high BABIP in addition to a low ground-ball rate. In addition to these issues, they have also been allowing a lot of walks.

Another pressing issue for the Mets appears to be second base.

The team thought the problem had been solved when they picked up Brad Emaus in the Rule 5 draft. However, it appears that is not the case.

Emaus has gotten off to a slow start to the season. He has just four hits in 28 plate appearances. He has walked three times, but he has also struck out six.

Some of his issues may stem from the fact that this is his first exposure to major league pitching. Regardless of the reason, Emaus seems to be a bit lost at the plate. We are not seeing the power that we have heard about. In addition, Emaus has been nothing more than decent defensively.

The solution here may be a simple one.

The Mets have Daniel Murphy, who it appears will become a platoon partner of Emaus. Murphy has already proven that he can handle hitting in the majors. His defense at second base has appeared to improve greatly. He just may the answer to the Mets' issues at second base.

The final thing that is a bit worrisome about the Mets is Jason Bay’s replacement in left field.

Lucas Duda struggled mightily in limited action and was already sent back down to the minors. Willie Harris has been on a tear to start the season.

This may not seem like a concern. However, Harris is just a career .240 hitter. His current BABIP of .438 is in no way sustainable.

The question right now should be, how long will Harris be able to keep up his current level of success?

It likely won’t be much longer.

Left field will once again become an issue for the Mets once Harris cools down. If Jason Bay is out for an extended period of time, then Harris is not the answer for that.

The Mets do have talented young players in the minors, and it may be time to give Fernando Martinez yet another shot at trying to prove he can be a major league outfielder.