2010 Mets: So much for ‘Prevention & Recovery’

The Mets unveiled a new slogan in spring training: “Prevention & Recovery.” They even had signs made up for the clubhouse. The goal was to avoid the plague of injuries that ruined the 2009 season. But the Mets will open the season with three regulars on the disabled list: Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Daniel Murphy.

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At least Reyes is expected to be back fairly soon. Reyes appears to have recovered from his hamstring woes, but had a new problem this spring when he was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid. Rest brought his thyroid levels down, but now he must get back in baseball shape. The hope is to have Reyes back before the middle of April.

Photo by Icon SMI

Beltan is still recovering from his January knee surgery. Once he is cleared to resume baseball activities, he will need at least four weeks to be ready to play. Beltran is expected back somewhere between the middle of May and the beginning of June.

Murphy sprained a knee in the last week of spring training and will be out at least until the middle of April and perhaps until early May. Mike Jacobs will platoon with Fernando Tatis while Murphy is out. Even in Jacobs’ poor 2009 season with the Royals, the lefty batter hit 18 homers in 333 AB against right-handed pitching. Murphy led the power-starved 2009 Mets with just 12 homers. If Jacobs gets off to a good start, Murphy, also a lefty, could have trouble getting his job back.

Top prospect Ike Davis had a great spring, but will begin the season in the minors. But Davis is expected to take over first base in 2011, and if both Murphy and Jacobs struggle, Davis could be up at some point this season.

While Reyes is out, the Mets have gone with Alex Cora at short, with 20-year-old Ruben Tejada backing him up. Tejada, considered a better fielder than hitter, could also see some time at second base in place of Luis Castillo.

Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews Jr. will share center field while Beltran is out.

As for the healthy part of the lineup, David Wright had a good spring, hitting five homers, half his entire 2009 total. Jason Bay should give the Mets some much-needed power in left, while Jeff Francoeur hopes to build on his successful second half of 2009. Castillo managed to stay healthy almost all of 2009, but can he do the same this year? Rod Barajas is the catcher, with Henry Blanco his backup.

Moving to the rotation, the good news is that all five starters are healthy. The bad news is that the rotation is filled with question marks after ace Johan Santana, and even Santana is a bit of a question mark after a so-so spring following his return from having bone chips removed from his elbow.

But the rest of the rotation is in such a state of flux that Jon Niese, who was only recently named the No. 5 starter, will open the season at No. 3. John Maine will pitch the second game of the season, Mike Pelfrey will be the No. 4 and ever-frustrating Oliver Perez is now the fifth starter. Unfortunately, the Mets failed to bring in any new starters during the offseason who can become alternatives to these struggling pitchers.

The Mets hoped that Kelvim Escobar would be the setup man behind Francisco Rodriguez, but prevention & recovery has not panned out so far for Escobar, who starts the season on the DL after missing almost all of the last two seasons. Going into the season, the setup job is still unsettled. Ryota Igarashi was signed from Japan to compete for  the role, but has disappointed so far. Bobby Parnell will start the season in the minors. Pedro Feliciano wants to be the setup man and has a shot, though the Mets would prefer that he remain the lefty specialist.

The best arm in the Mets’ farm system, 20-year-old Jenrry Mejia, made the team as a reliever and could be the setup man before too long.


Even if Reyes and Beltran make it back soon and are able to recapture their pre-injury form, the Mets will be in trouble this season with that rotation.

But with Mejia, Niese (who is technically still a rookie despite being in the rotation part of 2009) and Tejada, the Mets have three rookies on their roster at the start of the season. Both Mejia and Niese could end up being important parts of the team. Davis could be up before too long. Last year’s top prospect, Fernando Martinez, had a great spring and could also play a role later this season, though perhaps as trade bait.

So while the present does not look promising for the Mets to compete for a playoff spot, the much-criticized organization has come up with several prospects who offer hope for the future.

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