Over at MSGNetwork Joel Sherman whittles down the Mets' forthcoming 2006 season to five questions. I will tackle them myself now; click the link to read Sherman's take.
1. WILL PEDRO MARTINEZ MAKE 30-PLUS STARTS?
Who am I, Kreskin?
2. ARE THE SET-UP MEN STAND-UP GUYS?
Sort of. To be honest, I have no idea what to expect from Duaner Sanchez and Jorge Julio. They could be great, or they could be awful. Julio will probably drive us crazy by pitching lights out one day and piss poor the next. Sanchez doesn't have a huge body of work to look at, but he had mediocre peripherals (2:1 K:BB, and roughly one homerun per ten innings). Aaron Heilman should be the Mets' best setup man until he is rightfully restored to the rotation when:
(a) Brian Bannister self-destructs, or
(b) Someone in the rotation gets hurt
The over/under on one of these things happening is May 1st.
3. WILL THE MOST EXPENSIVE PLAYER IN MET HISTORY EARN HIS MONEY?
No, probably not, but that doesn't mean he won't have a good season. It's not likely that Carlos Beltran will ever have a good enough season to "earn" $17 million, but if he can hit .300/.380/.550 with 30 SB and great defense in centerfield then he will be one of the five or so most valuable position players in the game.
4. ARE THE METS SECOND RATE AT SECOND BASE?
Assuming we're choosing between "first rate" and "second rate", then yes, the Mets are second rate at second base. If "third rate" were an option I'd surely take that one. Anderson Hernandez has virtually zero experience playing the position defensively and he has done nothing in his limited MLB experience (counting Spring Training) to think he's ready to handle big league pitching. He has hit for no power and draws nary a walk. I'm hopeful that he'll blossom into a productive hitter at some point, I just don't know when that will be, and I'd wager dollars to donuts that it won't be in April.
Jeff Keppinger is clearly the superior hitter at this point, but the Mets never had any intention of having Kepp make the club.
5. HOW GOOD IS JOSE REYES?
Right now, not very. If you believe the stats, he's a below-average defensive shortstop with no plate discipline and limited power. Most of his value derives from his decent batting average and terrific stolen base numbers. If he can improve his range at short and get his OBP/SLG into the .330-.350/.430-.450 range he will be immensely valuable. I concur with Sherman on this one: until he improves his discpline he will be just an exciting player with high upside who makes too many outs to justify batting him leadoff.