10 Questions for Mets’ Spring Training
Hope springs eternal during the first week of spring training — every team has high hopes, big dreams, and is gunning for the World Series. Previously injured players are miraculously healthy — in the best shape of their lives — and those who had off years spent all winter working on a way to bounce back. It’s a great time in the baseball season, perhaps the best. But for the glass-half-empty crowd, there is one doubt for every dose of optimism.
Johan Santana made it to Port St. Lucie, as did all the other pitchers and the catchers and David Wright. To a cynic, that is about the extent of the certainty after one day of spring training. For many Mets fans — especially in the wake of the “collapse” — spring training is a six-week process that hopefully answers burning questions.
Following are ten questions that need to be answered by April.
1. Is Duaner Sanchez healthy and can he pitch at the same level prior to the infamous midnight ride for Dominican cuisine?
2. Is Carlos Delgado’s hand (broken during game 162) 100%, and can he regain the bat speed that made him one of the most feared hitters in MLB before 2007?
3. Can Moises Alou get through six weeks in Florida without injuring himself, and therefore open the season in the starting lineup?
4. Can El Duque join Alou on the Opening Day roster?
5. Does Mike Pelfrey have a second pitch to go with his fastball, and is it good enough to retire Major League hitters?
6. How will Pedro Martinez handle NOT being “THE MAN” for the first time in over ten years?
7. What kind of pitcher is Pedro now? Is he the cunning, five-inning soft-tosser that went 3-1 last September or has he recovered enough to resemble the flamethrower that dominated MLB from 1993-2004?
8. Are any of the young guns (Brant Rustich, Eddie Kunz, etc.) talented enough to make an impact this season?
9. After minor knee surgery, is Carlos Beltran finally healthy enough to be the superstar the Mets have been paying him to be?
10. Speaking of knee surgery, what about Luis Castillo? Is he physically back to being the guy who sparked the top of the Marlins lineup for so many years or are those days long gone?
11. (bonus) Will Ruben Gotay get a chance to win the job of 25th man, or will he be played just enough to lose out to someone like Olmedo Saenz?
This list could have gone on to 20 or 30, but I’d like to keep the glass half-full. What question or questions do YOU think need to be answered in the next six weeks?
LF – Can Moises Alou stay healthy for more than half the season? And if so, can he hit close to .340 again?
CF – Can Carlos Beltran remain consistent over the course of 162 games and regain his 2006 MVP-caliber prowess?
RF – Can Ryan Church hit LHP enough to justify a starting role?
3B – After a .325 30/30 season, has David Wright finally reached his peak or will he continue to improve?
SS – Can Jose Reyes mentally move past last year’s 2nd half slump, and can he remain focused and energetic the entire year?
2B – Can Luis Castillo’s knees withstand another year of punishment?
1B – Is Carlos Delgado recovered from his broken hand, and if so, is he still capable of his pre-2007 production?
C- Will Brian Schneider’s defense prove worthy enough to justify his poor offensive output?
Bench – Are we too left hand heavy? Is Damion Easley over his injured ankle, and can he produce like last year? Can Ruben Gotay find lightning in a bottle again?
Starting Pitching – Is Pedro Pedro again? Can Johan handle New York? Can Maine and Perez re-produce their 2007 success? Can El Duque hold it together when we need him? Do we have enough depth in case of injury?
Relief Pitching – Is Sanchez able to fall back into his 2006 role? Can Heilman’s arm continue to hold up to a heavy workload? Is Wise going to be better than Mota? Can Schoeneweis prove to be an effective commodity? Will Sosa revert back to his pre-2007 ways?
Management – Will Willie utilize his bullpen correctly? Will he allow starting pitchers to go longer in games? Will he ride his starting position players too hard? Will Omar stick with unproductive veterans on the roster for too long? Will Willie get the boot if the Mets underachieve again?
I guess with all these questions facing the team this year, it’s good to have the team motto that we do…
“Ya Gotta Believe”
Kidding….but it’s a nice little under-the-wire pickup by Omar — supposedly, they’ll be putting the finishing touches on a Minor League deal/ST Invite this weekend.
If Clark makes the team — it can only be a positive, on work ethic alone.
From an older ESPN article:
One of the hardest-working players in the game, at age 32, Clark doesn’t take a day in the majors for granted after being undrafted, released twice and traded once while in the minors. “Whenever my career is over, I don’t want to have any regrets. I just want to know that every time I stepped on the field, I did my best.”
Good to see Omar bringing in some guys with pride this year. Every single member of this team should be hungry in 2008.
The Mets have officially signed Brady Clark to a minor league deal and have invited him to Spring Training.
Hopefully, he pushes some of these guys and makes camp that much more competitive. Gotta love a gamer.
Is this a good thing or bad thing? Jury’s still out for me. I love watching Jose’s exuberance and energy, but I agree that sometimes he gets a little too over-the-top with his celebrations and it becomes distracting and a story in-and-of-itself. I think I’d be happy with seeing a toned down Reyes, not one that doesn’t celebrate at all. Find the happy medium.