With Spring Training starting to get into full swing, we are learning more and more about the players each day. As I result, I believe it is time to give you my projections for the 2011 Mets. On Monday, Craig gave his predictions for the Mets Opening Day roster. You will see a lot of similarity between the picks, but you will also see differences when it comes down to some of the last spots on the roster.
Jose Reyes, SS – This is one of the easier roster selections to make. Reyes will be the starting shortstop on Opening Day barring a trip to the DL.
Josh Thole, C – With Ronnie Paulino’s current visa issues, the only other solid catcher in camp is Kai Gronauer and he is still a few years away from being Major League ready.
Angel Pagan, CF – Pagan’s move to center field is widely welcomed by Mets fans. He had an outstanding season last year and should be able to at least come close to his numbers again this year.
David Wright, 3B – Wright is another player who will undoubtedly be on the Mets Opening Day roster. His play will be a key to the Mets success this year and he will need to cut down on the strikeouts.
Ike Davis, 1B – Ike had a breakout season last year. He was very solid defensively last season and he showed a lot of pop with the bat. Davis should continue to improve and could have his first 25 home run season this year.
Scott Hairston, RF – Hairston is proving in Spring Training that he deserves to make the Mets as a reserve outfielder. He is a good choice and he can serve as a power bat off the bench. He has a career .190 ISO. With it looking more and more likely Carlos Beltran will be on the DL to start the year, Hairston should start on Opening Day.
Jason Bay, LF – The Mets need Bay to return to form this year. He likely will never be the player that he was in Pittsburgh or Boston, but the Mets are counting on him to be a run producer.
Daniel Murphy, 2B – In my piece on the battle for the second base position, I selected Murphy. Although Murphy has struggled a bit in Spring Training, Terry Collins has continually insisted that second base is an offensive position. For that reason, I am sticking with Murphy.
Mike Nickeas, C – He makes the roster due to the fact that even if Ronny Paulino does eventually get his visa, he still needs to serve an eight game suspension to open the season.
Nick Evans, UTIL – Evans is out of options and is doing everything that he can to try to make the Mets roster. Evans can play first base, third base, and in the outfield, so this should help him make the roster.
Willie Harris, OF - The Mets need to carry at least two outfielders on their bench as a result of Carlos Beltran’s knee. The team does not know how Beltran’s playing time will be affected this year. Harris will also serve as a late inning defensive replacement.
Chin-lung Hu, INF – Since both Nick Evans and Willie Harris can play in the outfield, the Mets will likely allow the battle for the back up middle infielder position carry on in the majors until Beltran is ready to come off the DL. Hu will take one of these spots, and there are three players in the running for the other position.
Justin Turner, INF – The last bench spot comes down to a battle between Brad Emaus, Justin Turner, and Luis Castillo. As I stated above, I believe the battle for the backup middle infielder position will come down to Hu and the player selected here, which is Turner. Hu has a slight edge on Turner defensively, but Turner’s bat makes up for this difference. If Murphy struggles, Turner could slot in as the team’s everyday second baseman.
Starting Lineup and Bench Notes: It was clear that the Mets missed Beltran last season. The news that Beltran will be shut down for at least five more days due to tendinitis leads me to believe that he will likely start the season on the DL. With the season rapidly approaching, he has yet to even play in the field. In addition, Nickeas will be sent down to the minors once Ronny Paulino is eligible.
Mike Pelfrey – Without Johan Santana, Big Pelf is the Mets Opening Day starter. He is by no means an ace, but he will have to try to carry the staff until Santana is able to return from his injury
R.A. Dickey – Dickey was one of the biggest surprises in the majors last year. The knuckleballer had a career year and the Mets can only hope that he can repeat his sub-3.00 ERA once again this season.
Jon Niese – The young lefty still has a lot to learn in the majors and he will be faced with the task of being the Mets number three pitcher. He has the opportunity to take big steps this year and show that he has top of the rotation potential.
Chris Young – When healthy, Young has always been a good pitcher. The problem however, has been keeping Young healthy. He came back from shoulder surgery towards the end of last season and was very productive in his limited appearances.
Dillon Gee – It will come down to Gee and Capuano for the last spot in the starting rotation. A few weeks ago I suggested that Gee would make the team and take the fifth spot in the rotation. Even after some spring struggles, I still believe that.
Francisco Rodriguez – There was little doubt that Rodriguez would be the team’s closer to begin the year. The bigger question surrounding Rodriguez is if the Mets will allow him to finish 55 games this year so his 2012 option vests.
Bobby Parnell – Parnell was able to solve his control problems last season and had a very strong year. The one issue that Parnell has had is allowing a lot of hits. The explanation for this was that Parnell had an absurdly high .374 BABIP. This number should drop significantly and Parnell’s performance should improve.
Chris Capuano – Even if he is not in the starting rotation, Capuano will make the team. After coming back from his second Tommy John surgery last season, Capuano spent some time in the bullpen as well as the starting rotation. He fared better in his 15 relief appearances and he could be great in that role with the Mets.
D.J. Carrasco – Carrasco’s signing was one of the bigger moves made by the Mets this offseason. He will undoubtedly be in the Mets bullpen this season.
Pedro Beato – While Spring Training stats mean very little, Beato is performing very well. Beato has excelled since moving to the bullpen. Since he was a Rule-V Draft pick the Mets need to offer him back to the Orioles if he is not on the opening day roster. I don’t see this happening.
Taylor Buchholz – This was another low-risk/high-reward signing the Mets made of a player coming of an injury this offseason. Buchholz has the potential to be one of the better pitchers in the Mets bullpen this season.
Tim Byrdak – The last spot in the Mets bullpen will come down to Tim Byrdak, Pat Misch, and Jason Isringhausen. Byrdak and Isringhausen are would both provide another veteran presence in the bullpen. As great as it would be to see Izzy back on the Mets roster, I just can’t see it happening at this point. Byrdak will just edge out Izzy for the last bullpen spot.
Pitching Notes: The Mets will obviously miss Johan Santana for the first part of the season. Once he returns, Gee or Capuano, whoever is in the fifth spot will be moved either sent to the minors (Gee) or moved to the bullpen (Capuano). If the Mets plan to have Santana back in June it may make sense to let Gee get major league experience while Capuano can serve in the bullpen all year. The Mets will also have a lot of bullpen depth in the minors. If he clears waivers, Pat Misch could be one of the Mets first call-ups. In addition, if Jason Isringhausen does not retire, he could see time on the Mets major league roster this season. Boof Bonser, Manny Acosta, Ryota Igarashi, and Mike O’Conner will all help contribute to the Mets pitching depth.
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