With pitchers and catchers set to report to lovely Port St. Lucie on Monday, the Mets appear to be a formidable team ready to make a run to a world championship. However, like most teams, they do have some questions that need to be answered, preferably before the season begins.
The health of the Mets five starters is paramount; after all, they will only go as far as their rotation can take them. Four of those young studs — Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler — all ended 2016 on the disabled list. Wheeler, of course, never pitched at all. Are they all healthy, finally ready to become the dream rotation we’ve been promised? Or will this be Generation K all over again — never pitching together at the same time?
David Wright played just 37 games last season after neck surgery, and dealing with his spinal stenosis will be a daily battle. Neil Walker was sidelined in August with back surgery. Lucas Duda missed two-thirds of the season with a broken back. Add Asdrubal Cabrera’s balky knee and you’ve got a recipe for potential disaster. Can they make it through the season? Fortunately, the Mets have Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores, who would be starters on many teams, in reserve if/when anyone goes down.
Yoenis Cespedes will be in left. Jay Bruce will start the season in right. Curtis Granderson will likely see the bulk of the playing time in center, at least early on. At age 36, will he be able to handle the grind for the entire season? Juan Lagares should see plenty of late-game action in his place. But what about Michael Conforto, still a budding star despite his poor 2016? Will he waste away in the minors? Not to mention Brandon Nimmo. Sometimes too many quality players can be a bad thing.
Familia will almost certainly face a suspension to start the season, likely 30 games (although 15 games seems more appropriate to me, since Aroldis Chapman got 30 games and the accusations against him were far worse than what Familia was reported to have done). By the way, what is taking MLB so long to make this decision? In any case, Addison Reed will have to be the closer in his place, which means everyone else in the bullpen will have to step up a notch. Are they up to the task? Fortunately, the bullpen looks pretty solid with the return of Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas, and the emergence of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman.
So those are the major questions for the Mets heading into Spring Training. I didn’t even mention Travis d’Arnaud, who needs to prove once and for all that he can stay healthy and be productive. If these questions can be answered positively, there is no reason to doubt a successful season for the Mets, one that ends in the Canyon of Heroes in early November.