The New York Mets 2010: Injuries & Mishaps Make for Questions, Questions and More Questions

Tom Chieppo

PORT ST. LUCIE’ —The Mets’ spring training has gotten underway with many issues regarding the 2010 regular season, and it is put up, or shut up time.

Starting rotation after Johan Santana is questionable because the Mets don’t have a number two starter: just a bunch of guys who can be fourth or fifth starters. Nonetheless, we know that the majority of the team was decimated with injuries, making last year a total washout.

Every starting pitcher has to have a big year. Oliver Perez must step up his performance and not be erratic in the strike zone. He’s got to be more consistent around the plate. Mike Pelfrey can be a number two but he’s an average pitcher at best, who fights himself on the mound after missing the target and walking batters. John Maine is unpredictable; his health is a worry and he doesn’t perform the same. Finally Jonathan Niese, who is a young left-hander, has to drop his pitch count. The Mets missed the boat on John Lacke; Fred and Jeff Wilpon didn’t want to spend a lot of money on him.

Jose Reyes’ position as third batter may cause problems offensively. With Carlos Beltran out of commission until June, the running game is taken away from Reyes, a man with very little home run experience.

Yes, Citi Field lowered the dimensions in their ballpark to have more players’ hit homers, but Reyes isn’t a 25-30 home run hitter, he’s a doubles and triples player. It’s the Mets’ prerogative to have Reyes as the leadoff hitter. The team has seemed to choose differently.

But who’s going to lead off? Will it be Luis Castillo? Will it be Angel Pagan? None of those possibilities will work. The Mets need to have David Wright hitting third, and with a game against the Florida Marlins in the home opener on Apr. 5, Mike Jacobs needs to hit fifth.

Jeff Francoeur would be a good choice if it wouldn’t cause three lefties hitting in a row (a no-no in the world of Major League Baseball). The Mets also missed the boat on Bengie Molina, who has improved his catching for the San Francisco Giants. He could have been the fifth hitter for the Mets, and Reyes batting wouldn’t be a discussion.

The Mets first base is a platoon because of Daniel Murphy, who has improved his defensive ability with the help of hall-of-famer Keith Hernandez. Murphy was a .266 hitter with 12 homers 63 RBI’s, in 155 games, with 508 at-bats last season. Ike Davis, a very young player, has a lot of potential but isn’t quite ready for the starting first base position just yet.

Is Fernando Martinez the player that the Mets can rely on to have a productive year? Martinez played 29 games with 11 runs scored, 16 hits, 1 homer, 8 RBI’s, and a .176 batting average in 91 at-bats. Martinez filled in for Reyes and he didn’t live up to the expectations for Jerry Manuel’s club.

Martinez needs to develop his fundamentals more to become a major league player.

We can’t forget about job security.  The heat is on for skipper Jerry Manuel and General Manager Omar Minaya to have a productive season. The front office seems to be preparing for a shake up and is definitely due for one.  Manuel will need to have a strong showing this season to be even considered for the managerial position. Minaya keeps saying over and over to the media, “we have a good team.” Everything has to fall in place for the Mets. It’s a game of dominos for them. If one piece falls, the entire team falls.  The Mets are a team with questions, but the question that will be talked about throughout the regular season is “what if?”