The Mets have a lot of questions marks coming into the 2012 season. If you look at their starting line-up, every player either had an injury riddled year and is a young talent trying to live up to what they did in 2011. There are some guys on the team who need to be their old selves if this team wants a chance to compete. I’m not counting players who were injured last year, just the ones that played for most of the season and either fell apart or just didn’t perform the whole year.
- Jason Bay – This one seems obvious, no? Bay has been a huge disappointment his first two years here and his big contract is looking like a big mistake. But there is still time for Bay to redeem himself. Even if it’s just turning a “horrible” contract into a “wasn’t good” contract. Bay is projected to be the number five hitter in the line-up, which is a big spot not only for himself, but for protecting Ike Davis as well. The fences being brought in for Bay will help, but to what extent? Is it possible we can see 30 homers out of him? Right now if he could put up 20-25 homers with an OBP in the .360’s I’d be very happy with that. One thing I love about Bay is the way he plays the game. He always hustles and runs out everything, which makes him an easy guy to root for. But when 18% of the team’s payroll is going to him, there needs to be a certain level of production before the fans turn on him.
Highest projection: 35 HR, 100 RBI, .270/.380/.530
Realistic: 25 HR, 75 RBI, .260/.350/.430
- Mike Pelfrey – This is another easy choice. Pelfrey took a big step back last season, from what was his best year in 2010. He has the ability to be that number two in the rotation but he needs to get some control over his pitches. It’s not that he is wild (he’s actually been scary consistent with his walk totals the past four years), it’s that he can’t put a batter away when he needs to by executing a pitch in the location that it needs to be. Right now I see Pelfrey as the fourth man in the rotation behind R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese. If he can keep his ERA in the low four’s and throw 200 innings, that would be good enough.
Highest projection: 15-8, 3.75 ERA, 200 IP, 115 Ks, 65 BB
Realistic: 13-10, 4.20 ERA, 190 IP, 100 Ks, 65 BB
- Andres Torres – 2010 was Torres’ best year and thought his struggled in 2011, he does have the talent to bounce back. Torres plays the game the right way and gives everything he has into every game. You can really tell how special a player is by when he goes to a different team and what the old team’s fans say about him. Giants’ fans are always raving about Torres being a great player and a wonderful guy to have in the clubhouse. His main purpose on offense will be to get on and steal bases. But even if he struggles offensively, you know that he is going to give the Mets a great glove out in center field.
Highest projection: 35 SB, 95 R, 10 HR, .270/.340/.480
Realistic: 25 SB, 80 R, 10 HR, .260/.330/.450
- Bobby Parnell – Right now the Mets bullpen is the strength of the team. Frank Francisco isn’t the ideal closer, but he’ll do a solid job there and has the most experience closing games. Ramon Ramirez is a very good set-up man, and should even get a chance to close some games out himself. Bobby Parnell has a chance to raise the level of the bullpen to one of the best in the league if he can perform like some say he can. Anytime you have a pitcher who can throw 100 MPH, you just think the sky’s the limit for that guy. Parnell struggled in closing situations last year, which really hurt his value as a player. It appears that Parnell will be more of a 7th innings guy this season, which is a role he is going to have to fight with Jon Rauch to win. With three experienced relief pitchers ahead of him, there should be very little pressure on Parnell to carry the bullpen. This should give Parnell a chance to get his ERA into the twos, a number that many would not be shocked to see him achieve.
Highest projection: 2.60 ERA, 55 IP, 60 Ks, 25 BB
Realistic: 3.10 ERA, 50 IP, 55 Ks, 30 BB
- Jonathon Niese – Niese’s 2011 season ended on a bitter note when a ribcage injury led to a start which only lasted four innings in which he gave up eight funs and forced him to miss the entire month of September. Niese had a good May and June, but got roughed up in July and August. He has one of the best curveballs in the league and is one of the best the best young lefties in the game but it seemed he lacked the arms strength and conditioning to make it though the 162 game major league season. Niese has looked good in Spring Training so far and has come to camp in great shape, along with a new nose job. Not only does his beak look better, but it will help Niese breath, with might aid his stamina in games, as well as for the long haul of the season.
Highest projection: 16-9, 3.50 ERA, 200 IP, 160 Ks, 65 BB
Realistic: 13-10, 3.90 ERA, 180 IP, 140 Ks, 55 BB