It seems like Spring Training was only yesterday, and questions swirled around the Mets. Could they be competitive? Were they as bad as the mainstream sports media said they were? Who was going to play second base? Would we have to put up with Ollie Perez and Luis Castillo for yet another year? Could Mike Pelfrey be the ace of the starting rotation? Would the Mets trade Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes? Could Fred Wilpon recover from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme? Does Jeff Wilpon think “Ponzi” was that guy from Happy Days?
Well, August is here, and while the Mets’ future is still uncertain (then again, what future isn’t?), a great many of those questions have been answered. Let’s take a look at those on the 2011 opening day roster, and see where they are now, both physically and metaphorically.
Today, Part I of II:
OK, arguably not on the opening day roster, but certainly worth mentioning. Wall-Street whiz David Einhorn became minority owner of the team, taking a little economic pressure off of the Wilpons with his infusion of cash. Sandy Alderson has done just about everything right, and seems to be in complete control of baseball operations. He adeptly executed two necessary trades before the non-waiver trade deadline. And Jeff Wilpon now thinks “Ponzi” is a speedboat.
Terry Collins has impressed the fan base, the organization, and the media alike with his ability to keep his team motivated through the most trying of times. The man who purportedly “lost” his team while managing the Angels a decade ago has the 2011 Mets squarely behind him.
The Starting Lineup
- C Josh Thole - In his first full season in the Majors, Thole has allowed a league-leading 14 passed balls. In part, this can be attributed to his frequent role as R.A. Dickey’s personal knuckleball barrier, but there is no question he needs to work on his mechanics. Among other things, he tends to “chicken-wing” pitches off the plate to his left, and has trouble getting in front of pitches in the dirt. He has improved as a hitter as the season has gone on, and is platooning with Ronny Paulino.
- IB Ike Davis – Ike came out of the gate looking like a polished hitter in his sophmore season. To go along with his solid defense at first base, he showed more discipline at the plate than in 2010, and retained his impressive power stroke. He was hitting .302 with 7 HR
and a .925 OPS when he injured his ankle in a collision with David Wright. His return to the lineup in 2011 is looking less and less likely to occur.
- 2B Brad Emaus – The favorite of former Toronto GM, J.P. Ricciardi, had a mediocre Spring and an ice-cold start to the season. The Rule 5 draft pick was returned to the Blue Jays, then later claimed on waivers by the Rockies. He is currently playing for the Rockies’ AAA affiliate in Colorado Springs. The Mets’ second base situation is still unstable, but Justin Turner has gotten the lion’s share of the starts at that position.
- 3B David Wright – A stress fracture to one of his lower vertebrae hampered his game for about a month before going on the disabled list. Since his return, he has been hitting better, batting .271 overall with 9 HRs.
- SS Jose Reyes – For most of the season, it seemed a certainty that Reyes would be traded before July 31. But his performance more than impressed his new boss, Alderson, enough to convince the Mets to try to re-sign him at the end of the season. He was in the middle of a career year until the injury bug bit him again (in the hamstring), and is currently on the DL. He still leads the National League with a .336 batting average and 16 triples.
- LF Jason Bay – Bay started the year on the DL with a ribcage injury. Since his return, he has once again struggled to find the form that made him a premier power hitter for the Pirates and Red Sox. He has played surprisingly good defense in left field.
- CF Angel Pagan – Angel is in the middle of an inconsistent season following his breakthrough year in 2010. He has shown signs of life at the plate, but is still prone to mental errors in the field and on the bases.
- RF Carlos Beltran - In Spring Training, Beltran moved to Right Field to accomodate Pagan. He had a terrific final year for the Mets,
hitting 15 HRs, driving in 66 runs, and boasting a .904 OPS. He was traded, as predicted, on July 27 to the Giants for top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.
- IF/OF Daniel Murphy – Began the season as a utility man/pinch hitter. He was pressed into service at second base following the departure of Emaus, then became the Mets’ every day first baseman following the injury to Davis. He also filled in at third while Wright was on the DL. His questionable defense and red-hot bat made him an enigma. He suffered an MCL tear last week while playing second, and is likely out for the year.
- OF Scott Hairston – Hairston got off to a slow start after a torrid Spring. He seemed to swing for the fences every time up. He has since returned to form offensively, and has earned more playing time in the outfield.
- OF/IF Willie Harris – He’s been called upon to play outfield, second base, and third base. Despite an uneven season at the plate, Harris has become a clubhouse leader for the Mets. His highlight so far? Getting tossed in a garbage can by Lucas Duda.
- IF Chin-Lung Hu – Apart from being the butt of an endless stream of Abbott and Costello jokes, Hu contributed little at the plate or in the field. He currently plays for the Mets’ AAA affiliate in Buffalo (Correction: Hu currently plays for the GCL Mets – thx Bryan).
- C Mike Nickeas – Nickeas started the season as a fill-in for Ronny Paulino. He’s spent most of his season in Buffalo, but in his limited time with New York, he has shown he is a capable defensive catcher.
Coming up on Monday: Part II – The Pitchers