Spring Training is about to close, meaning the Mets will embark on their 2013 season hoping to prove critics wrong.
However, despite the team having only two weeks remaining of their time in Port St. Lucie, there are still many unanswered questions Manager Terry Collins and General Manager Sandy Alderson need to answer before they head north.
Questions surrounding the team’s health have made some decisions more difficult than others. However, the 25-man roster that will take the field against the San Diego Padres on Opening Day.
As of now, the team’s starting rotation is all but set. Considered to be strength before Spring Training began, an inexplicable spring from Johan Santana has left the starting five a little more murky than expected.
As of now, Jonathon Niese will take the ball against the Padres, followed by newly-acquired Shaun Marcum, pitching phenom Matt Harvey, the ever consistent Dillon Gee and youngster Jeremy Hefner should fill in for Santana until late April.
Once Santana returns, the Mets should have a solid rotation – of course, that all depends on how Santana pitches after returning from his prolonged break.
The bullpen, which could be the team’s biggest wildcard heading into 2013, seems more or less set as of today. While one or two spots could still be up for grabs, the majority of the ‘pen seems to be outlined.
Bobby Parnell was anointed as closer early in camp after Frank Francisco was unable to return to the team for the beginning of camp and should hold onto the job for as long as he can pitch effectively. The Mets made a savvy move in acquiring veteran reliever Brandon Lyon to serve as the team’s primary setup man. The rest of the bullpen should include lefties Josh Edgin and Greg Burke in addition to righty Scott Atchison.
The final two spots will come down to the wire between veterans LaTroy Hawkins, Robert Carson or Pedro Feliciano.
As for the infield, the Mets will hope to patch together a serviceable bunch of players to hold down the fort until injured regulars like Daniel Murphy and David Wright can get healthy.
Ike Davis is entrenched at first base, and if he can continue his second-half hitting spree from last season, he will be the Mets biggest power threat.
Murphy is slated as the starting second baseman, but some combination of Justin Turner and Omar Quintanilla could play there until he is fully healthy.
Shortstop is taken care of with the young Ruben Tejada manning the position. The Mets are hoping Tejada can continue to build on his impressive two years in orange and blue and become a stalwart at the position for the future. Despite his absolutely putrid spring, Tejada could be the team’s shortstop of the future.
Third base will now be David Wright’s for the foreseeable future after signing a mega-deal earlier this offseason. The Mets know what to expect from Wright’s bat, but more importantly, Wright will act as the team’s leader for 2013 and beyond.
The true crutch facing the Mets this season will be their outfield – which was one of the game’s worst in 2012 – and is quite honestly a complete tossup heading into this season.
As of now, Jordany Valdespin’s strong spring training performances may have won him a starting gig, but the team’s success hinges on Lucas Duda’s ability to become a middle-of-the-order bat. Marlon Byrd has seemingly found the fountain of youth this March and as such will start in right field to begin the season, but it’s still unclear how long he can hold down a starting job.
Other names like Colin Cowgill and Mike Baxter will be in the mix, but until another name falls to the Mets through the wavier-wire or a trade, this is what the Mets have and they intend to see what they can squeeze from this unproven bunch.