After years of disappointment, we can all push the reset button and hope for a better outcome with each Opening Day. For a team that relishes playing on Opening Day (going 32-18 in openers), the Mets will head out there on Monday afternoon with youthful exuberance and an attitude of “hey, maybe we can shock the world.”
Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but with each team starting 0-0, anything can happen. So, with the 2013 season about to commence, here are five things we should be looking for on Opening Day.
How healthy are David Wright and Daniel Murphy?
With Wright and Murphy recently participating in Grapefruit action, it appears both will be on track to play on Opening Day. For a team with little margin for error, this is a nice shot in the arm. It’s good to know vets like Wright and Murphy will be around to open the campaign, as they will provide the younger guys with someone they could look up to. I’m not looking for production right away, I just want to see Wright and Murphy move around as normal as possible. Eventually, Wright and Murphy will get their timing down.
Is Jonathon Niese ready for prime time?
Although it’s sad to see Johan Santana’s season-and possibly career-end before it began, the baton has now officially been passed down to Niese and the younger generation of pitchers. Collins has tapped Niese as his opening day starter and it’s time that Niese takes the role as lead dog in the staff. Niese will also be the sage veteran that guys like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler can turn to. It would be encouraging if Niese comes out of the gate quickly and pitches a quality game while helping the Mets get their first win of the year.
How will the patchwork outfield look?
As discussed ad nauseum, the outfield is the biggest question mark for the Mets heading into the season. With still-yet-unproven holdovers Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin joining newcomers Marlon Byrd and Collin Cowgill, there is still some apprehension about how these guys will all fit in together. No doubt, this is not an all-star collection of outfielders, but collectively each player has a lot to prove and they say that competition does breed success. It would be nice if the outfield shows some good defense combined with some timely hitting.
Can this be the year Bobby Parnell puts it all together?
We’ve been saying it for years, but could this finally be the year Parnell puts it all together? Well, if Parnell is used on opening day, there is a good chance the Mets will be winning. It would be refreshing if Parnell takes the mound in a save situation and quickly makes good work of the Padres. Parnell finished his spring in fine fashion and hopefully that carries over to New York. If Parnell is pitching with confidence, there is no telling how good he could be. My hunch is that Parnell runs with the closer job and never looks back.
Can Ruben Tejada get off to a good start?
As I discussed in my last post, a good start for Tejada would provide a much needed boost to this club. After struggling mightily this spring, Tejada would quell a lot of fears if he gets out of the gate fast. Depending on where Collins puts him in the lineup, the progress of Tejada is crucial to the success of the Mets.