Before my doctor tells me to turn my head and cough or bend over and relax, we talk about the Mets. I try to keep the conversation going for as long as possible, for obvious reasons. Before a fortunately non-invasive recent visit, he asked me what I thought about the team’s prospects for 2011. I told him it didn’t look good, but if everything falls into place, who knows?
“If” everything falls in to place. The Mets are one big if.
There is pretty much only one given on the team, and that would be David Wright. And even with him, the stink of that strange 2009 season hasn’t fully washed away. He needs one more season to ensure that 2009 was just an aberration. He also needs to cut back on his strikeouts — 160 whiffs are unacceptable.
Then we have all of the ifs:
— If Jose Reyes is healthy; I think he is and will have a huge year.
— If Carlos Beltran is healthy; I don’t think he is and will have an injury-plagued year.
— If Jason Bay rebounds; I think he will, although his latest setback is a concern.
— If Johan Santana can contribute; I don’t think we’ll see him before August.
— If Ike Davis and Jonathon Niese can build on their rookie successes; I think they will.
— If R.A. Dickey is the real deal; I think he will struggle at times this season.
— If Josh Thole and Brad Emaus can do the job; Yes on Thole, no on Emaus.
— If Mike Pelfrey can be an ace; I don’t think he is.
— If Francisco Rodriguez is the old K-Rod; I think he will be.
— If Angel Pagan can repeat his performance; I don’t think he will.
— If Chris Young and Chris Capuano will stay healthy; I don’t think they will.
Well, that’s most of the team. If all of the ifs can turn positive, then the Mets have a realistic chance of contending. But really, what are the odds of that? If half of the ifs happen, which is more likely, then the Mets are a .500 team. And that’s where I think they’ll end up — 81-81, in third place in the NL East behind the Phillies and the Braves.
As far as mid-season trades, I will go against conventional wisdom and say Reyes will not be traded. As I said above, he will have a big year, and I will make the bold prediction that the Mets will sign him to an extension — in the neighborhood of 4-years, $60 million.
K-Rod will also have a big year, and will be traded to a contending team at the deadline. Because of that $17.5 million vesting option the Mets will get little in return, but at least they won’t have that ridiculous contract on the books next season.
The Mets will be stuck with Beltran all season because he will be too damaged to trade.
Sandy Alderson could also surprise us and trade someone like Young or Capuano if they are healthy and Alderson decides he doesn’t see them contributing to the 2012 team, the way Omar Minaya should have traded Pedro Feliciano at the trade deadline last season.
Despite what promises to be a pretty rough year, I can’t wait for the season to start. Watching a bad Mets team is better than watching no Mets team at all.