Here is the ideal starting roster for the 2011 New York Mets (within reason). The Mets are not expecting to make any big splash this off season, just some hole fillers, so this is mostly based on who they already have. This is assuming Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo are traded:
-Starter: Josh Thole- As a developing prospect, Thole appears to be major league ready. He doesn't seem like he is going to be a superstar, but a solid major league catcher looks to be a given.
-Backup: Henry Blanco- Blanco knows the pitching staff well and is a veteran who can help the pitching staff and mentor Thole to improve his defensive skills. Blanco's defense is as good as any and can deliver a clutch hit every now and then.
-Starter: Ike Davis- Ike had a phenomenal season, for a rookie, in 2010. He batted .264 with 19 Homers and 71 RBIS in 147 games. I can't say enough about Ike. He's got enormous power, great defense, and looks to be the future star of this franchise. I believe Ike will be a 30 home run and 100 RBI man for the Mets in the near future. No one should be at 1st base on opening day besides Ike Davis.
- Starter: Orlando Hudson- The Mets need to sign Orlando Hudson and trade Castillo for a halfway decent relief pitcher. Hudson is know for his ridiculous defense and a leader in the clubhouse. He is a four-time gold glove award winner and a two-time all star. The Mets were reportedly interested in Hudson last off season but couldn't find a suitor for Castillo.
- We cannot have another season of Castillo. His range at 2nd base is decreasing and has nowhere to go in the lineup. The best top of the order is the Reyes and Pagan one-two punch and Castillo is useless in the 8 hole. Castillo's offense consists of bunting, the occasional hit and his speed; all useless in the 8th spot because he is hitting in front of the pitcher's spot. Castillo should be traded to an American League team where he can be in the 9th spot as a 2nd lead off hitter.
- If Hudson isn't signed the most likely scenario is 20 year old Ruben Tejada would get the starting job. Tejada is a shortstop originally and has a great arm and incredible range. He will not be a major power hitter but Tejada is capable, unlike Castillo, of hitting the ball deep in the gap or over the fence every once in a while.
-Starter: David Wright- Is it even a question? He is the face of the franchise and brings fans to the park. Wright is streaky but he is a good defensive 3rd baseman and when he retires will be the last Met to wear #5. Wright is the man in the 3rd spot in the lineup and the man at the hot corner. He is the consistent 5 tool player for the Mets and the perfect trifecta of speed, power and defense. there is a 99.9999% chance of David Wright being the everyday 2011 3rd baseman.
-Starter: Jose Reyes- Even though Jose Reyes is the subject of trade rumors, Reyes and Wright are the clubhouse leaders and the co-captains of this team. When I think of the New York Mets I think David Wright, Jose Reyes and Johan Santana. Reyes is the spark in this lineup and prior to his oblique injury played the best game of his career. I fully believe Reyes will have a monster year. I predict he will hit .290 to maybe even .300 with 40-50 stolen bases and 100 runs. 2011 will be a career year for Reyes granted he nips the injury bug.
-Starter: Jason Bay- Jason Bay had himself an awful year at best. We probably could have given Fernando Martinez the starting job and it would have gone better than Bay did in 2010. If it wasn't for the concussion Bay probably would have finished in the realm of 11 homers and 65 Rbis, relatively similar to Wright's first year at Citi Field. Wright in 2009 had 10 home runs and 72 Rbis. I believe Bay will adjust to Citi Field like Wright did but i do not expect a repeat of his 2009 campaign in which he hit 36 homers and 119 Rbis with the Red Sox. Bay will most likely be in the 5 hole and be back to his All-Star caliber form.
- Starter: Angel Pagan- Pagan had a breakout year in 2010 batting .290 with 37 stolen bases and 80 runs. He solidified himself as an everyday player by stepping over Gary Matthews Jr. and Jeff Francoeur by taking advantage of his opportunity to showcase his potential to Manuel and the Mets. He proved himself as an essential part of the team by batting well over .300 with runners in scoring position (RISP) and batted nearly .400 in the 7th inning or later. Pagan is easily the most clutch player on the team. Pagan also had a phenomenal year in the field as well. Pagan had a .987 fielding percentage with only 5 errors and 10 outfield assists, including a triple play. Pagan's blazing speed also allows him to have an amazing ability to run down balls in the gap, a requirement for the spacious Citi Field. He deserves the job over Beltran in center field because while Beltran's range is decreasing, Pagan's is getting better and better. Beltran is still trying to recover from his knee surgery in which he has to wear a knee brace that slows him down. The best center field option the Mets currently have is Angel Pagan.
-Starter: Carlos Beltran- Currently, the more capable man for the center field job is Pagan, forcing Beltran to right field. Beltran has had a forgettable past two years at best. In 2009 and 2010, Beltran had 17 home runs and 75 Rbis in 145 games played over the two seasons. Beltran in 2011 will be in the final year of a 7-year 119 million dollar contract and is the subject of trade rumors. It is believed the Red Sox and the Cardinals could be suitors but the Mets would have to eat roughly 15 million of his 18 million dollar salary in 2011 for a trade possibility to become feasible. In September of 2010, we began to see the Beltran of old. In September, Beltran hit .353 with 5 home runs and 12 Rbis. Beltran also began reading balls off the bat better in the field, giving him a better chance of running down a ball in the gap. While we saw Beltran finally begin to recover from his knee surgery that benched him until after the All-Star break, we still are not sure he will regain his 2006 form. Since we do not know how Beltran will perform, the Mets need a better 4th outfielder as a safety net. I believe an Austin Kearns or an Eric Hinske would fill that job well.
Starting Rotation: This is Mets rotation granted Santana is not ready by Opening Day:
1. Mike Pelfrey- Pelfrey's breakout year has proven he is top of the rotation material. Pelfrey went 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA and even 1 save in the Mets 20 inning marathon. He did struggle in the middle of the season due to changing arm speeds that tipped his pitches to batters. Once Pelfrey got that under control, he was back to dominance. If Santana is not ready for Opening Day, Pelfrey will surely be handed the ball.
2. R.A.Dickey- Robert Allen (R.A.) Dickey had himself a career year in 2010. The 35-year old knuckler went 11-9 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. The former 1st round draft pick had never had a better year than 9-8 with a 5.09 ERA in 2003. When R.A. Dickey was signed this past off season, it was mocked as a waste of money. In 2010 R.A. Dickey finished 7th in the National League in ERA with his incredible 2.84.
3. Dillion Gee- Gee got the September call up when Santana went down for the season with a torn shoulder. Gee dazzled in his debut allowing 1 run and 2 hits in 7 innings and had a no-hitter for 5 innings. The 24-year old rookie has the potential to be a top of the rotation arm. In his 5 starts in the majors this year, Gee was 2-2 with a 2.18 ERA and had a quality start in each of his outings. There is no doubt Gee will be in the rotation come 2011.
4. Jon Niese- Niese had a good rookie campaign going 9-10 with a 4.20 ERA. Jon collapsed down the strech going 2-5 with a 5.43 ERA in his final 10 starts of the year. The 24-year old southpaw will be a solid 3rd or 4th starter in the Mets rotation for years to come.
5. Hisanori Takahashi- Takahashi is the perfect 8th inning man/ 6th starter for the Mets. He will be a free agent this winter but the Mets need to resign him. Takahashi has proven himself a dominant reliever and a decent spot starter. In his first year in Major League Baseball, Takahashi went 10-6 with a 3.61 ERA and 8 saves in 8 opportunities. Takahashi had been in Nippon Professional Baseball with the Yomiuri Giants prior to the 2010 season. When Santana returns Takahashi should be the 8th inning man. Jenrry Mejia was snubbed because he needs more time to develop as a starter in Triple-A.
Fransisco Rodriguez- K-rod is a hot head but the bottom line is the Mets need him. K-rod is still one of the prominent closers in the game. In 2010, K-rod was 4-2 with a 2.20 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 25 saves in 30 opportunities.. In August K-rod was charged with 3rd degree assault for beating his father-in-law in the family lounge of Citi Field. He spent a night in prison and a two game suspension by the New York Mets. Later it was discovered that he torn his thumb ligament in the scuffle and had to have season-ending surgery. If the new GM doesn't trade him, K-Rod needs to be the 2011 closer for the Mets.
Some players will look to bounce back while others are looking to build on 2010, the 2011 season for the New York Mets could be a pleasant surprise if everything more or less goes their way.