The Mets have a laundry list of players with something to gain this spring. So, where do you begin?
Let’s first break down the starting lineup.
Andres Torres– Can he stay healthy and give the Mets something at the top of the batting lineup?
Daniel Murphy– Can he, too, stay healthy at a position that has caused him a lot of grief over the years in regards to injuries?
David Wright– Can he reestablish himself as one the game’s best hitters while taking advantage of the new Citi Field dimensions (while also cutting down on strikeouts)?
Ike Davis– Can he effectively come back from a major ankle injury and recapture the stroke he had in the early portion of the 2011 season?
Lucas Duda– Can he build off his impressive second half while also improving his defense in right field?
Jason Bay– What doesn’t he have to prove? Bay will get one more season (amid Citi Field’s new dimensions) to see if he can finally live up to his contract?
Josh Thole– Can he be a consistent hitter and improve his defense behind the plate?
Now let’s assess the starting rotation and some bullpen arms.
Johan Santana– Probably the Mets’ number one storyline entering Spring Training; can he come close to recovering from major shoulder surgery and be a front-line ace?
Mike Pelfrey– Can he rebound and show any signs of consistency in what could be a make-or-break year?
Jon Niese- Can he physically and mentally stay strong and last a full season?
Dillon Gee– Can he correct what he did wrong in the second half of last year and be more like his first-half self?
Frank Francisco– Can he repeat the dominance he displayed in the second half of last season and be a closer in a pressure-cooker city such as New York?
Bobby Parnell– Can he harness his talent or will he continue to be mentally weak?
Basically the only Met without much to prove this spring-at least in my opinion- is R.A. Dickey.
While not an elite pitcher, Dickey has demonstrated in his two years with the Mets that he is dependable, durable and consistent. You know what you get when Dickey takes the mound.
For the Mets to have so many question marks gives credence to the fact that so many people are down on the team. Even if the rotation stays intact and plays up to par, it still is the main weakness of the Mets. Plus, you’re hoping that many in the lineup stay healthy and take advantage of the new fences at Citi Field.
However, if the stars align and if the Mets could get satisfactory answers from the questions I posed, then 2012 could be a good year after all. Terry Collins, at least, is showing some confidence in his team.
I’m not writing off the season either. There should be some semblance of optimism that some of these questions can be answered effectively.
The Mets could play above their expectation and that’s what the spring is for: Hope.
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