With Opening Day right around the corner, the noxious fumes of the spring have jolted the optimism I tend to have around this time regarding the Mets. Maybe it has been the random bouts of 50 degree weather or maybe it’s been the sight of the orange and blue jerseys clashing against the green grass and golden infield dirt – but I have hope about the Mets chances of being a contender this season.
Most fans know that the Mets’ rotation is a huge question mark. It lacks a true ace; it boasts reclamation projects and is held together by hope and potential. After Mike Pelfrey, you really don’t know how the Mets’ rotation is going to perform. The staff has a chance at being solid, but expecting the group to be anything but average might be asking too much.
On the other side of the ball, things are much less terrifying but still cloudy. While there are still question marks surrounding the Mets’ potential offense next season, the promise of a strong offense is much less of a proposition than our pitching staff producing similar results.
The current Mets makeup largely depends on the health of three players. If Jose Reyes can return to the dynamic form he had before his past two injury-riddled seasons, Jason Bay can figure out how to hit home runs again and recover from the concussion he suffered last season and if Carlos Beltran can somehow find a way to recapture the magic that made him one of the best players in baseball and not injure his brittle knees, the Mets will have a strong offense.
While health is an issue, it would appear that all three of those players have had ample time to heal from their respective injuries and have a decent chance at performing at a solid level this season.
With a healthy Reyes leading off, Angel Pagan coming in and batting second, followed by David Wright and Beltran gives the Mets a solid front four. I am especially excited to see Reyes and Pagan being table setters at the top of the order. If both of them perform to their capability, they have a chance of becoming one of the best top of the order threats the Mets have had in a long time. A healthy Beltran hitting behind Wright should give Wright more pitches to hit and drive in runs.
The middle of the order will feature Bay hitting fifth and Ike Davis hitting sixth. These two have potential to be the meat of the Mets batting order and could be two bats that opposing pitchers don’t want to face. If Bay can figure out how to hit in Citi Field and Davis continues to progress from his extremely promising rookie season the Mets could boast two 30 home run threats in the middle of their order.
Another thing to remember is that Davis was hitting cleanup for much of his rookie season, likely adding a lot of pressure to the freshly called up 23-year-old. Moving down in the lineup could allow Davis to relax and focus more on his personal hitting than having to carry the team’s offense.
Finally rounding out the final spots in the order will likely be the winner of the second base competition and young catcher Josh Thole. If I had to call it now, I’d say that Brad Emaus wins the second base job out of camp, but Daniel Murphy will be there waiting. Either player provides the Mets with an offensive-minded second basemen who should be a solid No. 7 hitter in the lineup. Expecting a .270 batting average with 65 to 70 RBI’s is not out of the question.
Finally, Josh Thole will fill out the lineup as a tough out in the No. 8 spot. Thole takes pitchers and works counts and I can see him eventually developing into a Paul LoDuca type of hitter that is able to be in the top of the order. For now, Thole will be expected to perform well and be a tough out which will allow him to develop.
The Mets lineup is certainly not a lock to perform, but when taking a closer look at it the potential to have one of the National League’s best lineups is there. Who knows, maybe my optimism will be warranted or maybe it will be squashed when the summer rolls around. All I know is I’m just happy that baseball is coming back.