Manager Terry Collins has injected some life in to the New York Mets
Heading into the 2011 season, expectations for the New York Mets on field play were very low. With the Bernie Madoff scandal and a pending lawsuit still hanging over the Wilpons' heads, most writers and fans thought the Mets would make more headlines off the field than on.
Following a sub par 2010 season, the Mets had replaced GM Omar Minaya with Sandy Alderson and manager Jerry Manuel with Terry Collins, but optimism was in short supply heading in to the start of the season.
Mets ace Johan Santana was going to be out of action for at least half of the season and the club was still stuck with the contracts of the unpopular and downright awful Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. However, management made it clear that players were going to be held accountable for their performances. When both Perez and Castillo were cut prior to the start of the season, despite the money owed to them, Mets fans at least knew that the new regime was serious.
While the Mets will not be making the playoffs this year, they have certainly exceeded what was expected of them. They look set to finish third in the NL East and have been right around the .500 mark all season long.
Additionally, they have had contributions from some unlikely heroes and have energized the fanbase with their enthusiasm and never-say-die attitude. In fact, this team that was expected to be terrible has been more exciting to watch than the 2008 and 2009 Mets teams that were supposed to be good and collapsed.
As we get close to the end of the season, here's a look at the Mets players worth keeping—and the ones who are not.
Johan Santana will the ace recover his form?
Ace Johan Santana has been out of action all season recovering from major surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. He is currently rehabbing in the minors, but with just a few weeks left in the regular season, Mets fans will not get to see him pitch in the majors until next spring.
Johan Santana will hopefully be back and return to the form that has made him one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Manny Acosta has been one of the better options out of the bullpen
Manny Acosta has been one of the more reliable arms in a very unreliable Mets bullpen. While Acosta did not carry a heavy work load, he has pitched to an ERA at around 1.00 in his last 10 appearances and should be given another look next spring.
Pedro Beato young and unproven
Pedro Beato pitched in just over 62 innings total this season with an ERA slightly above 4.00. His body of work is therefore not enough to judge his overall potential
At age 25, Beato is worthy of a continued look and a bit more seasoning.
Tim Byrdak a journeyman reliever
Tim Byrdak is a journeyman reliever who, at 38 years of age, is probably reaching the end of the line.
Byrdak was ineffective earlier in the season but seems to have picked it up of late, pitching to a 1.80 ERA since mid August.
If the Mets go in to spring training needing arms in the bullpen, Byrdak is worth a look. However, if he doesn't impress in Florida it may be time to part ways with the veteran.
Chris Capuano overall ineffective
Chris Capuano's first season as a Mets starter has been a mixed bag. On the good side, he's remained healthy. On the negative side, he's been very inconsistent.
After missing the 2008-2009 seasons due to Tommy John surgery and further shoulder troubles, Capuano seemed to have recovered a bit of his old magic last season with the Brewers. Unfortunately, his time with the Mets has not been a success.
At 33 years of age, Capuano would not be one to rely on in the Mets' future plans.
DJ Carrasco not who you want to see on the mound
R.A. Dickey a lot of heart and a great knuckleball
R.A. Dickey is a saviour for the Mets and Mets fans alike. He arrived on the scene last year with little fanfare and some ugly numbers from his years in the American League. In an overall dismal season, Dickey became the story of the 2010 Mets, using his knuckleball to win 11 games while pitching to a 2.84 ERA.
While his numbers and luck have not been as good this season, Dickey is the consummate professional and a true leader on a team that sorely needed veteran leadership.
Although 37 years of age, Dickey's knuckleball allows him to continue pitching effectively and therefore he should remain a part of the Mets' plans for next season.
Dillon Gee may be one for the future
In his first full season in the majors, Dillon Gee proved himself to be a solid and reliable starting pitcher.
He excelled in the first half of the season and was even being talked about as a potential All-Star. He has faded a bit down the stretch, but at just 25 years old he has shown enough potential to be a successful major-league pitcher with the Mets.
Igarashi has been a total bust
Not much needs to be said about Ryota Igarashi. He has been horrible all season and it's almost a guarantee that he will give up runs when he enters a game.
If the Mets can part ways with him now, they should do so immediately. He is a total bust.
Jason Isringhausen has come full circle with the Mets
Jason Isringhausen provided one of the great feel-good moments of the season for the Mets.
Having started his career as a member of the team's so-called Generation K, he has come full circle this season returning to the Mets and recording his 300th career save.
After missing most of the 2009 season and all of the 2010 campaign, Isringhausen has pitched in 53 games this year and has made some solid contributions out of the bullpen.
Isringhausen is considering retirement at the end of this season, so he will more than likely end his career with the team he first came up with.
Jon Niese a young arm for the future
Niese was born the week the Mets won their last World Series in 1986.
Currently on the disabled list, Niese has an 11-11 record in his second full season with the Mets. While his ERA is high at 4.40, he has struck out 138 batters while keeping his walk tally low.
Niese has shown great potential and, with a bit more seasoning, could become a reliable starter for the Mets for many seasons to come.
Bobby Parnell throws heat but needs to be more effective
Bobby Parnell is one of the most frustrating and baffling members of the Mets pitching staff. Able to reach over 100 miles per hour on the radar gun, he is also capable of regularly blowing leads as he did again today against the Chicago Cubs in a 5-4 defeat.
Still young, Parnell is one to keep as he has all the potential in the world. He needs a bit more work and to build up his mental toughness.
Mike Pelfrey has had his chance to shine
With Johan Santana out at the start of the season, Mike Pelfrey was given the honor of being the Mets' opening-day starter. Unfortunately, he has proven that he is not a staff ace and would actually be lucky to be a No. 5 starter in the rotation.
He's shown over the past three seasons that he's really just an average pitcher and perhaps a bit of a headcase to boot.
Pelfrey is in the prime of his career and really needs to step it up soon or it might be time to say goodbye.
Chris Young got hurt early
The one-time San Diego ace, Chris Young looked to be a solid pickup by the Mets heading in to the season. He got off to a strong start with a 1-0 record and a 1.88 ERA after four games. Unfortunately, that was the extent of his season as he then underwent shoulder surgery from which he is currently recovering.
Young is a free agent at the end of this season, and only time will tell if he can even get back to pitching regardless of what team it is for. It seems as if Chris Young's days as a Met will be short lived.
Mike Nickeas third string catcher
Mike Nickeas is a solid defensive catcher, but overall not a very good major-league player. He's gotten a few important hits for the Mets in his limited playing time, however, the team could do a lot better in the backup catching department.
Nickeas is not one I would bring back.
Solid backup catcher
At the age of 30, Ronny Paulino is a decent part-time catcher with some power. However, he is definitely not an everyday player.
Paulino hits well against lefties and is a good bench player as well as a backup catcher. Depending upon where the Mets go in the catching department, Paulino would be a player to consider bringing back.
Josh Thole hasn't impressed
Although Josh Thole is still just 25, I'm not sure that he is the future starting catcher for the New York Mets.
Defensively he has been a bit of a liability, allowing too many passed balls. To be fair, he often catches knuckler R.A. Dickey; however, he needs to improve in this area.
Thole is also a slap hitter without a lot of power in a position that should generally provide some punch to a lineup. Time will tell, but the jury is still out on Thole as a full-time catcher.
We all like a healthy Ike
Ike Davis got hurt early in the year on what looked like a routine infield pop-up. His loss was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the Mets' season. It would have been great to see what he could have done this season—in Davis, the Mets seem to have their future first baseman.
Davis is currently on the mend and should be ready for spring training. I expect big things from him in the future.
Lucas Duda a massive presence with massive potential
Lucas Duda has been another great surprise for the Mets this season. In his brief spell with the Mets at the end of last year, he looked more like Lucas Dudd. However, since joining the Mets from AAA Buffalo this year, Duda has gained confidence and looks as if he has the potential to be a beast of a hitter.
Another young player, Duda does need to work on his fielding and is definitely not quick on the bases. What he does have is power and he appears poised to become a solid player for the Mets.
Nick Evans has show significan improvement
Nick Evans has been up and down with the Mets so many times, it's amazing that he knows where he is at any given moment.
Another of the Mets' core of youngsters, Evans looks like a different player since joining back up with the big club this September. He has shown some power and his play at first base has been outstanding.
Evans has never gotten more than 111 at-bats in a season so he is definitely one to keep an eye on and may play a part in the future of the Mets.
Daniel Murphy can hit, but can he field?
Daniel Murphy is one of those players who is hard to figure out. He was all set to be the Mets' starting first baseman last season before getting hurt. This led to the emergence of Ike Davis.
With Davis out and some holes in other areas of the lineup, Murphy was getting some good playing time before he ended up hurt again.
Murphy can definitely hit and would be a great addition to any lineup. The problem with Murphy is he is awkward in the field and doesn't exude confidence defensively. He also seems to have a hard time on the basepaths.
Murphy is a valuable chip, but if he ends up the odd man out with the Mets, the team may get good value for him from an American League team in need of a DH.
Jose Reyes the Mets' MVP
How Mets management could have considered trading Jose Reyes is beyond me. Reyes, hands down, is the team's MVP and definitely brings an energy and attitude that drives the rest of the squad.
Staying healthy has been his only issue, but when Reyes is fit he is one of the most exciting players in baseball. He can do it all offensively and defensively. Plus, his speed is made for Citi Field.
Reyes is currently battling Ryan Braun for the National League batting title and would be the first Mets player to ever win it. Mets management simply needs to give Reyes the contract that he deserves and make Fred Wilpon eat his words.
Ruben Tejada starting to show signs of maturity
I was ready to write Ruben Tejada off based upon his play last season. I have since changed my mind, seeing the improvements he has brought to his game this year.
Still only 21, Tejada has proven himself an excellent defensive infielder. More surprisingly, he has become a pretty good hitter. While not batting for a high average, Tejada has come through in many important situations and has shown that he has the potential to continue getting better as he fills out more himself.
Tejada is showing signs that he belongs.
A gift from the baseball Gods
Justin Turner is this year's R.A. Dickey. He has been the greatest surprise of the season for the Mets and has emerged as an integral part of the team.
Claimed off of waivers from the Orioles last year, Turner has thrived with the Mets. After opening day second baseman Brad Emaus was designated for assignment, the Mets called up Turner from Buffalo and he has been in Flushing ever since. In fact, he was named NL Rookie of the Month for May.
Turner has hit a respectable .268, but more importantly has fielded his position well and come through with hits when needed. His attitude is excellent and he has become a bit of a cult hero amongst Mets fans.
David Wright the face of the franchise
As with Jose Reyes, David Wright is the face of the New York Mets.
While he spent a significant part of the season on the disabled list, Wright is still a team leader and puts up strong offensive numbers while playing a great third base.
Still just 28, Wright has a career batting average of .302 and should remain a core member of the New York Mets for years to come.
Who is the real Jason Bay?
Jason Bay has been the biggest disappointment for the Mets this season. While he has recently begun to look like the Jason Bay of old, he was flat-out missing for the first five months of the season.
His power numbers have all but vanished and his strikeout rate in run scoring situations is ridiculous. The frustrating thing is that Bay is a stand up guy and someone you really want to see do well.
On the positive side, Bay's fielding has been terrific and he seems determined to turn things around. Bay has two years left on his contract so Mets fans are certainly hoping he can do so.
Scott Hairston provided some pop off of the bench
Scott Hairston started off as one of the most hated of the new New York Mets due to dropped balls and weak hitting when pressed in to action.
Since then, the utility player has become a bit more popular with the fans with some very timely and important hits including five RBI against Cole Hamels and the Phillies in July and a walk-off home run against Giants closer Brian Wilson.
Hairston has been a decent bench player, but the Mets should look for other options next season.
Versatile bench player
Willie Harris used to kill the Mets when he was a bench player for the Nationals. In the same role for the Mets this season, Harris didn't display the same bite.
Due to injuries, Harris got more playing time than he would have and did contribute a number of important hits.
Harris is just about a .250 hitter this season, and at age 33 his best days are behind him. He should not be brought back next season.
An angel in the outfield with speed
Last season Angel Pagan proved he’s a worthy everyday player. His center-field play has been excellent and he has stolen 30 bases so far.
Pagan missed about a month of the season through injury and took a while to get back up to speed. Since then, his average has bounced back to where it should be and he is looking like the Angel Pagan of last season.
Pagan has a lot of tools at his disposal and is worthy of his place with the Mets.
Light hitting spare part
Jason Pridie joined the Mets early this season when Angel Pagan went down with an injury. He has been used mainly as a pinch hitter and an occasional defensive replacement.
Pridie is a light hitting player who, at 28, has spent the bulk of his career in the minors. The Mets would be wise to part ways and look for a stronger bench player.