Jack Flynn: - Early Projections: 25-Man Roster

SP- Mike Pelfrey
SP- Jon Niese
SP- R.A. Dickey
SP- Chris Capuano
SP- Chris Young

Johan Santana won't be back in the rotation until the All-Star Game (at the earliest), and I wouldn't be surprised if he misses the entire 2011 season. Pelfrey, Niese and Dickey appear to the the only locks - Dickey is probably going to arbitration, even as he looks for a two-year deal. Capuano and Young will round out the rotation, provided both men are healthy to start the season. Dillon Gee, Pat Misch and *gulp* Oliver Perez will compete for rotation spots that open up as the result of injury or ineffectiveness.

RP- Francisco Rodriguez
RP- DJ Carrasco
RP- Bobby Parnell
RP- Taylor Buchholz
RP- Pedro Beato
RP- Oliver Perez

The Mets will start the season with seven relievers, of course, but I suspect at least one slot in the bullpen will be awarded to a dark horse who pitches impressively in Spring Training. Yes, I know you don't want to see Oliver Perez throw a pitch in a Mets uniform ever again, but right now they do not appear to have any viable left-handed options in the bullpen. I could see Perez filling a dual long man/lefty specialist role, especially if the Mets go into camp without a larger selection of southpaws to choose from. Terry Collins absolutely has to dance the fine line of keeping K-Rod's 2012 contract option from triggering without drawing a grievance from the MLB Players Association.

C- Josh Thole
C- Ronny Paulino

I really like this combination. Thole is the clear starter and Paulino is a veteran platoon partner who will hit lefties well enough to be a positive contributor, but not well enough to tempt Collins from taking at-bats from Thole even if he gets off to a slow start. I don't expect that to happen, however - Thole looks like a good bet to put up a string of .285/.360/.375 seasons in a Mets uniform. It ain't great, but you don't need much more from a #8 hitter and/or a catcher.

1B- Ike Davis
2B- Dan Murphy
3B- David Wright
SS- Jose Reyes
IF- Brad Emaus
IF- Justin Turner

The only competition is at second base, where Murphy, Emaus and Turner are the most likely players to stick with the team. I'm not sure if Luis Castillo will be with the team by the time it heads south, but he will have to hit like the the 2000 version of Castillo to have any hope of making this team. Chin-lung Hu and Luis Hernandez are in the mix as well, I suppose, but Murphy and Emaus seem pretty secure and only Turner seems vulnerable. I think he will out-play his competition and stick with the big club.

LF- Jason Bay
CF- Carlos Beltran
RF- Angel Pagan

The starters are set in stone, unless injuries get in the way. I'm not ready to speculate on the backups, because the race just seems so wide open. I suspect Scott Hairston has the edge for one of those positions; he hit 17 home runs in both 2008 and 2009 and has a career line of .278/.331/.498 line against lefties. Lucas Duda and Nick Evans are in the mix as well, but Hairston's position flexibility and major league resume seems more likely to block the right-handed Evans than the left-handed Duda.


Guz said...

I'd be shocked if Perez and/or Turner make the team. Turner still has minor league options and unless he totally outplays Hu, Hernandez, Castillo, Emaus, and Murphy, I don't see him on the team. Hu and Hernandez don't have options and would need to be placed on waivers. And their aren't any viable lefthanders for the bullpen? Both Tankersley and Byrdak, while on minor league deals, have better success in a left handed specialist role than Ollie. Only way he makes the team is if the Wilpons say no to dumping him. Otherwise, expect to see Tank/Byrdak or both on the roster. Also, Hairston is on a major league deal. He will make the team. The last spot is gonna be up to Evans or Willie Harris. Barring injuries, Duda starts at AAA.


Aaron said...

Yeah, agree with Guz here. After K-Rod, Tank and Byrdak will almost definitely be on the opening day roster barring injury or a serious inability to get anybody out in March. Carrasco is the other lock.

That leaves: Pat Misch, Oliver Perez, Michael O'Connor, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, Blaine Boyer and Boof Bonser competing for three spots. I expect Misch, Bonser, and O'Conner to end up at AAA as depth, but beyond that, I have no idea. Does Perez show he has a chance to produce out of the pen or does he get cut? Is Parnell ready to be a reliable guy or is he too streaky? Same question for Acosta and Boyer, two more flame-throwers who have issues. Beato is Rule 5, so tough decision there, too. Should be fun to watch.

Also, agree with Guz on most of the bench stuff, although I think Harris will almost definitely by the 4th or 5th outfielder along with Hairston. Harris is a strong defensive outfielder who can play any position out there, which is a must when your outfield includes Carlos Beltran's knees and Angel Pagan's injury history. Evans is a mediocre left-fielder, who might be able to play right field, but could never play center. His defensive inflexibility is his ticket to AAA.

Jack Flynn said...

Guz: I agree that Turner has to outplay Hu to make the team, because of Turner's minor-league option. In my projection, he is the 25th man on the roster and the first to go if Castillo or Hu outplays him. I think Murphy is a lock and Emaus is a near-lock - both will make the team before Turner.

Tankersley and Byrdak have to clearly out-pitch Ollie to make the team. Eminently possible, of course, but I'm not big fans of either one. I'm pretty sure that Hairston is actually a minor-league deal, but he has a leg up as the right-handed back-up outfielder.

Aaron: If Tankersley or Byrdak don't work out, I suppose Misch could also play the lefty long-man role. Mack would know better than I, but I suspect that the Mets simply don't think much of him and do not consider him a priority for 2011 innings. It's one thing to eat $6 million on a middle infielder with nothing left in his bat or his legs, but it will be so hard for the Mets to eat another $12 million on a 29-year-old lefty with past success unless they try him in absolutely every conceivable role first.

Jerry Manuel did the Mets no favors by completely burying Perez in the second half of last season. That team was never going to the playoffs and if he had at least tried to use Ollie for a month as a regular reliever, the Mets would know if there was even a glimmer of hope left for him. I suspect that there isn't, but $12 million makes you anxious to know for sure.

Willie Harris certainly has a shot of making the team. I can see a Hairston/Harris combination on the bench, even though I'd prefer to see Evans, Duda or both make the team. Harris was just horrible at the plate last season and I always worry that utility players over the age of 30 are given too many chances even after they are toast.

David Rubin said...

Jack- Hairston is a Major League deal. It was verified by Adam Rubin Friday. He's making the team- it's almost a given at this point.

Jack Flynn said...

Thanks David. I agree then - pencil Hairston in for one of the two backup outfield spots. Could even platoon with Pagan in right field.

David Rubin said...

Jack- exactly! He could spell Pagan in right, when Beltran is off and Angel moves to center; he can also spell either Bay or Beltran as, I believe, he can play all 3 outfield positions. What makes it even more interesting is the fact that he also plays a decent second base- doesn't it seem like we're getting a second base "overkil"?? LOL
Great post!!!

Mack's Mets © 2012