Remember a couple of months ago, when a small portion of the world was convinced the end of life on Earth was at hand? There’s a lot of talk right now – with an East Coast earthquake behind us and the prospect of a hurricane looming – that maybe it was just the calendar that needed adjusting.

We can safely say the end of days has already arrived for the Mets’ 2011 season. Actually, I’d say the date the season unofficially ended in Flushing was a humid Tuesday, August 2, when Jason Isringhausen allowed a leadoff walk, a base hit and a hit-batter, and Justin Turner threw away a ninth-inning grounder, allowing the Marlins to score the go-ahead – eventual winning – runs in a 4-3 loss. Whatever steam the team had built up evaporated right then and there. Since that game, they’ve gone 6-13 and seen any playoff hope gust out to sea. The requisite ensuing hysteria in the MSM has taken many forms. We’ve read low brow humor at the expense of a player with an all-too-real medical condition, and we’ve heard yowling high and low about the fact that David Wright was placed on waivers. Newsflash: in August, EVERYBODY gets placed on waivers. It’s as standard as batting practice. This is life following the Mets. Enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune never gets any easier. Adieu, 2011.

Which brings up the question of who to keep and who to jettison for 2012. There is a core here, believe it or not, a good one. For the sake of argument, let’s say that the financial picture for the franchise remains unchanged and Sandy Alderson has not been able to make the big acquisition in the off-season. And let’s assume for the moment that all goes as otherwise planned over the winter – as dangerous an exercise as that might be: Jose Reyes signs his extension and Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy and Johan Santana make management forget they were ever injured in the first place. That would put Davis at first, Reyes at short, David Wright at third. In the outfield, Jason Bay and his bloated, immoveable contract would patrol left, Angel Pagan – for all his misadventures over the past week – is too valuable a piece to simply dump, so he should be the regular centerfielder. The Josh Thole/Ronny Paulino combo behind the plate is, at worst, serviceable and will stay. Those are the givens. That leaves the Mets’ two traditional bugaboos as unanswered questions: second base and right field. There has not been a steady hand at the right side of the keystone since Edgardo Alfonzo took his last smooth grounder. There have been grand experiments (Roberto Alomar) and pleasant surprises (Jose Valentin, Damion Easley), but nobody who would stick, or ever make anybody forget Ryne Sandberg. I think a platoon of Daniel Murphy and Turner would do just fine offensively, with Ruben Tejada on hand to spell them on the D-side. As for right, Terry Collins has all but handed the job to Lucas Duda, which I welcome. There hasn’t been a viable right fielder since Darryl Strawberry loped over to Los Angeles, so why not give the kid a shot? I see Duda as a lower case Adam Dunn. He can also spell Davis at first if needs be. The rest of the bench should be filled out by a returning Scott Hairston, a full-year Nick Evans and the obligatory rookie, in this case, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who could eventually replace Pagan.

On the pitching side – the shortest end of the 2011 stick – the return of Johan makes the 2012 rotation somewhat overcrowded. Jon Neise will become your number two man. R.A. Dickey would slot into the third hole quite nicely. Were I the GM, I would retain Chris Capuano as the fourth starter and perennial problem-child Mike Pelfrey would be the fifth starter. I would keep Dillon Gee as a swing man. Should any of these men falter, two “plus” arms are waiting in the bushes: Jenrry Mejia and Chris Schwinden. The rest of the bullpen would feature Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato at the back end, Manny Acosta for the middle innings and Tim Byrdak as the lefty specialist. Again, there are fresh wings in Buffalo, if needed: Dylan Owen and Jose Della Torre.

Is that a playoff team? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

11 comments on “Who Will The 2012 Mets Be?

  • metsilverman.com

    Please mix me up a vat of this Kool-Aid or whatever it is you’re drinking. Better make it a double. The team you describe couldn’t beat the Marlins or Nationals, much less the Braves or Phillies.

    • Charlie Hangley

      Maybe the Marlins.

      Anyway, as I said, this is a best-case/worst-case scenario: best-case for the injuries, worst-case for Sandy being hamstrung as far as adding anyone.

  • Brian Joura

    Why are we creating ways to keep Justin Turner in the lineup? Here are their splits vs LHP this year:

    Murphy — .299/.319/.437 in 91 PA
    Turner — .218/.313/.277 in 115 PA

    Turner helped keep the season alive in May with a great month. But he’s been awful ever since. What he did in May was a hot streak – nothing more, nothing less. It’s not what we should expect from him ever again.

    • Charlie Hangley

      I just think Turner will outhit Tejada in the long run.

      • metsilverman.com

        And I think Murph showed in his last play of 2011–as well as his last play of 2010–that him playing a middle infield position is just plain dangerous. Either the OF, 1B, or the AL for him. And as it may not have come out before, I enjoyed the piece and the optimism.

  • Jon Wynn

    Certainly the Mets even if they don’t do anything may have a good set of position players, including backups, as is laid out. You could call it a surplus if the Mets weren’t so injury-prone. But they have to get some pitching, especially relievers. I would keep Gee in the rotation and not bother to sign Capuano. Beato probably not worth keeping either. They should get a quality starter, in case Johan doesn’t come back effective or to make the other guys fight for their jobs. And find a couple relievers.

  • edwin pena

    The core is not bad at all, as long as we can hold onto REYES AND WRIGHT, it is not the “end of days”….however, I have a crazy idea, and it could work. Put Ike Davis in RF, put Duda in LF, which he has stated is most comfortable with. This puts Murphy at 1B, a legit .300 hitter, and his only real defensive position. Next, put Tejada and his defensive skill at 2b, this helps Murphy because Tejada has SS range and can cheat when he has to toward 1ST, making up for Murph’s shortfall in range.
    Reyes at ss does not need the help. Get one vet starter for help and one established reliever in case Parnell is not the closer everyone hopes. The team / BA order would look like this:
    ss Reyes,1b Murphy, 3b Wright, rf Davis, cf Pagan, lf Duda, c Paulino ,2b Tejada.
    Starters: Santana,Gee,Niese,Pelfrey, Dickey (left,right,left,right,knuckler.
    BP- Parnell, Vet TBD, Beato, Acosta, Bydak.
    The whole key to this is alignment is can the 2 corner outfielders come through as power guys and Pagan patrol enough outfield to cover their limitations. If so, this could be a 85-90 win team, outside wildcard challenger, in 2013 the hot baby arms come in and the division will be contested……as for 2012, with Phillies, forget it….wild card challenge would be a welcome surprise.

  • Gehoff

    Has anyone successfully come back from the injury Johan has? I hope someone has because I know Webb hasn’t made it back and Wang isn’t the same at all. Posada can’t throw the ball anymore. There is probably a decent chance Johan doesn’t come back, and if he does it seems unlikely it will be as an ace. Mets really need pitching and could use some power bats. Maybe Ike and Duda supply the power next year but I’m not sure where the pitching comes from. And Jason Bay can not be in the lineup everyday. It sucks they have to pay him to sit on the bench but he does way more harm than good as a starter, especially when they bat him cleanup.

  • Metsense

    This team can’t stay as is. The starting pitching is too mediocre and the relief pitching is horrible. The defense has too many square pegs in round holes. The LF profiles as a platoon player. There are many young players that seem to be good players but are any of them potential all stars? We are competing against the two best teams in the NL in our own division so we have to surpass at least one of them to make the playoffs. This roster is not enough to do that. If the Wilpons can’t infuse the money to right this ship then it is time for new ownership.

  • Mets360

    […] Last week, I posed the question “Who will the 2012 Mets be?” barring any major additions or subtractions on the player personnel side. Well, now let’s make those additions and/or subtractions. When I say “let’s,” I mean just that: I’ll throw out my opinions as to who should be brought in, and then I’ll throw it out to you, gentle reader, to praise me for my sagacity or berate me for being a hopeless fanboy lunkhead. Of course, by all means add comments on who you’d like Santa Alderson to bring you this Christmas. Sandy has already shown that of all the Mets’ GMs throughout their history, he’s McGuyver. Alderson has an uncanny ability to make a quality acquisition out of sawdust, chewing gum and bailing wire. I think most fans trust him to do that, so let’s have some fun. Just a couple of ground rules: (1) Pease keep things realistic. Let’s stay out of the realm of “Trade Jason Bay and DJ Carrasco for Jose Bautista…and have Toronto throw in a pitching prospect.” (2) For the helluvit, let’s pretend Bernie Madoff had never been born and ownership – whoever it is — has all the money it needs to improve the club this offseason. […]

  • […] my last couple of pieces, I’ve tried to get a pulse on what the Mets’ 2012 season might look like. It’d be […]

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