Opening Day Lineup: 2010 vs. 2011

MetsToday reader “NormE” had this to say in the comments section:

Joe, if your looking for perspective, how about comparing 2010?s opening day roster with this year’s roster? There’s been quite a bit of housecleaning and, in the field, position- by-position the Mets look better off (except left field). The bullpen, on paper looks sounder. Starting pitching is a big
question mark.

I won’t do the entire roster, but let’s look at the Opening Day lineup of one year ago vs. today:


Wow. I mean, I know the team was much different a year ago, but, wow — David Wright is the only repeat in the lineup.

When the 2010 lineup was announced, I immediately assumed it was a belated April Fools Day joke. Additionally, there was no place in the universe that would have accepted Mike Jacobs as a cleanup hitter except for on Planet Manuel; still, I had further evidence proving it was a bad idea. Let’s not even get into the inanity of placing Alex Cora in the leadoff spot, or Gary Matthews Jr. in place of Angel Pagan.

This year, on paper, the lineup looks much improved in many ways, thankfully. Yes, it would be great to have Santana in the 9-hole, but Big Pelf is up to the task. And the lineup would look a lot deeper (as well as Harrisless) if not for the last-minute injury to Jason Bay, but what can you do?

What do you think? Does this year’s Opening Day lineup look better than last year’s? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. michael black April 1, 2011 at 7:13 am
    too much emphasis on Pelfrey as ace. Not enough on Capuano and Young replacing Maine and Perez. Including Takahashi in the mix can those one of those 2 replace the 28 starts 8-13 record with a 6 era averaging 5 innings per start? can both replace the 57 starts 4.3 era and 18-22 recond when Santana is put in the mix. Finally, Dillon Gee will be their 6th starter and will pitch this season. How much better is he as the 6th man in the rotation compared to last year?
  2. Steve S. April 1, 2011 at 7:55 am
    Better? LOL! Cora never should have been given that contract, and we’re still paying (though, thankfully, not playing) Matthews! And Jacobs at cleanup?! Another guy who shouldn’t have been signed. While all of this is obvious in retrospect, sadly, it was obvious at the time as well. Some people had high hopes for Francoeur then, but he soon reverted to form, and Castillo was still around. Thole will get on base and show occasional power; Barajas’s OBP was putrid, but he did have some pop. I’d still take Thole. Emaus should be a much better then Castillo, and do an adequate job in the field.
    Rod Barjas C Josh Thole C
    Johan Santana P
  3. Steve S. April 1, 2011 at 8:00 am
    And obviously Pelfrey is a step down from Santana. But I think he’ll be decent this year, and he’s healthier with more confidence, I would imagine.

    And we don’t have Perez and Maine in the rotation. Young and Capuano will be worlds better. Even with health concerns about them, they are a big improvement over P & M. Dickey will do at least as well, not revert to the mean. Niese should progress. Gee, Bonser, Misch, and Meija are OK backups, for now, at Buffalo.

  4. Mark April 1, 2011 at 8:09 am
    This year’s team is well designed for CITIFIELD. I assume Beltran has legs enough for RF and that Bay will be out if RF soon.

    I do not love Wright’s defense – his sidearm throws sail toward home plate and his backhand spears rather than moving to his right often leave me shaking my head about how things have changed. I hope Reyes can stay awake this year. I do not know what second base will look like, but the superb play of Davis at first makes the whole infield better.

    How about Thole? Let’s keep the batters off the bases.

    The entire Mets starting pitching is a major question. There seems a lot of tempermental players – both physically and mentally. My hunch is that on balance the starting pitching will be better than we think, and that with better management, the bullpen will be too.

    I have heard a number of Mets talk about being more patient at the plate this year. Good idea!

    I think we may see more creative playcalling this year then we have in the past several years – hope so.

    I’d love 87 wins – wouldnit you?

    • Joe April 1, 2011 at 9:31 am
      “I’d love 87 wins – wouldnit you?”

      Back to reality ….

  5. Brian Schottenheimer April 1, 2011 at 9:17 am
    Did someone say, “creative playcalling”?
  6. Alex April 1, 2011 at 9:18 am
    I know Harris has been on fire in the spring, but I still want Pagan batting 2nd not 5th. Pagan doesnt have the pop for 5th and I want him up top to help reyes out. Why not put davis 5th and Harris 6th or lower? But overall, this lineup is a million times better than last years
  7. Sonny April 1, 2011 at 10:33 am
    I agree with Alex 100%. Pagan needs to be hitting second. That speed at the top of the lineup is crucial. I’m sure Harris is speedy too but not like pagan. Ike should hit 6th with Harris behind him at 7th to be the table setter towards the bottom of the lineup, and I like Beltran batting 3rd and wright 4th. But overall this lineup is sick, let’s hope it works. LET’S GO METS!!
    • paqza April 1, 2011 at 5:19 pm
      I am fairly certain Harris won’t normally a) start or b) bat 2nd. However, Willie Harris is the best hitter in all of baseball (min. 20 plate appearances) against Josh Johnson. He’s got a .500 OBP against Johnson.
  8. Mike Tomaselli April 1, 2011 at 10:54 am
    Why I like Harris starting game 1: he totally earned it this spring. Collins is trying to be a player’s manager, this goes a long way.

    Why I hate it: 2nd?? Really? This is one of my pet peeves but the number two spot is the most important spot in the order. No other position sees more runners on base. Not as many RBI chances as 4th, but do we really want Harris hitting with runners on? Not as many times as Angel Pagan, that’s for sure. Collins doesn’t understand how to fill out a lineup card any better than he did a decade ago. Great start, Terry.

    Plus, Harris hits Johnson well. So there’s that. Playing match-ups from game one. Wonderful.

  9. murph April 2, 2011 at 1:55 am
    Contrast this with the Yankees, who had the EXACT same starting 9 on opening day as they had last year.
    (They said that it was the first time since 1926-1927)