As the 2011 season begins for the New York Mets, we all know that it's about pitching and defense – well, at least that's what the experts say, anyway. If you are Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, you had better hope that your pitching comes together in a hurry. Otherwise, it could be a long season.
In terms of the starting rotation, I do believe that Mike Pelfrey could carry this staff as the temporary ace in the absence of Johan Santana, at least for a little while. I even believe that Pelfrey can pull of 15 wins. It's the guys behind him that I'm most worried about.
I am not a big fan of Jonathon Niese. Yes, I know he is a young lefty with potential. Scott Kazmir had potential, too. At least you know that you can count on R.A. Dickey to give you effort, every time he takes the ball. Will it be enough to keep the Mets in contention?
Then, there's Chris Capuano and Chris Young. These truly are two unknowns. If everything rolls right with these two, the Mets could be a surprising group. If not, well, you know the rest.
As for the bullpen, I don't think that we as Met fans want to pin our hopes on Bobby Parnell, with Blaine Boyer as the lefty specialist. Nothing against Boyer, but he is one of a group of unknowns roaming around the bullpen. With Jason Isringhausen not ready to start the season, you have to keep your fingers crossed, once you get to the 7th inning.
Now, I will put out some positives with the starting lineup. I do believe that the top five in the batting order will put up their average numbers. Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Ike Davis will all be fine. At the bottom of the order, I have enough confidence in catcher Josh Thole to produce from an offensive standpoint. His defense will be in question. Jason Bay? Still to be announced, now that he is on the disabled list.
As for the bench, with Mike Nickeas starting the season as the #2 catcher, it looks more and more like the Ronnie Paulino signing is a disaster. He still has the tail end of a 50-game suspension to serve, and he needs to be healthy, which I do believe that he will be.
Willie Harris and Scott Hairston will be serviceable players, and hopefully, Nick Evans will be among them. If not, Lucas Duda should have a better start than he did last season. As for Daniel Murphy, obviously, the big issue there will be finding him a place to play in the field. Otherwise, he could be looking for a new team altogether, most likely in the American League.
As with most teams, there are issues abound. We will see how quickly the Mets can solve theirs. After all, their season - and the course of their franchise – will depend on it.