April 4, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis (29) hits a three-run home run in the third inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
While most coverage of the Mets treats the team as if they're going to lose more games than their 1962 incarnation, the roster is not awful. While they could very well finish at the bottom of the division, that has a whole lot to do with the rosters of the other four teams in the division. It's still entirely possible for the Mets to finish with a respectable record, one that would be a step in the right direction after the last few years.
There are some obvious flaws. The team's rotation is heavily dependent on health because there aren't too many options available until the likes of Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, and Zack Wheeler are ready to make the leap to the big leagues. Johan Santana is obviously the top concern when it comes to injuries, but should any of the other four starters hit the disabled list for a significant amount of time, the Mets will be in a bind. Chris Schwinden, for what it's worth, could probably fill in for Pelfrey or Gee and do a reasonable impersonation of either one. If he's replacing Santana, Dickey, or Niese, though, neither he nor Miguel Batista will be able to live up to the pitcher he is replacing.
When it comes to the starting position players, there's plenty of opportunity this year. The lineup should still be very good, even though Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are playing in different uniforms now. There are plenty of young players who will have a chance to prove they belong with the team for the long run. Josh Thole, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, and Lucas Duda have all shown enough positives to be starting players this year, but there's nothing standing in the way of their playing time now. That group, combined with David Wright, Jason Bay, and Andres Torres - all of whom would like to put 2011 behind them - should give the Mets the ability to score a bunch of runs this year.
If nothing else, the bullpen will get its strikeouts. It doesn't look perfect on paper, but it's very rare that any bullpen ever does. Jon Rauch is probably the biggest concern for the year, and Manny Acosta will probably continue to go unnoticed as one of the best pitchers in the Mets' bullpen. It'll be interesting to keep an eye on Josh Edgin, who thoroughly impressed in spring training and has a shot at cracking the bullpen this year if all goes according to plan in the minors.
The bench is rather bland, and there's not a ton of power there. Well, there's really not much hitting there at all. Scott Hairston is the exception, and if he can hit anything like last year, there will be some calling for Terry Collins to bench Jason Bay and play Hairston instead. The rest of the group is decent, but the only real pinch-hitting threat appears to be Hairston.
All in all, it's a decent team. There's certainly room for improvement, but there's at least enough potential on the roster and in the minor leagues to make this year enjoyable for Mets fans. Absolutely everything would have to break right for the Mets to contend for one of the wild card spots, but I suppose crazier things have happened in baseball. Even in the realistic scenario that the Mets don't contend for anything this year, however, these will not be the 1962 Mets.