Half the fun of the end of spring training (and yes, there actually is an end in sight) is taking a look at the teams’ expected Opening Day rosters. Though the Mets aren’t dealing with any real position battles, there are some interesting scenarios shaping up. So with that said, let’s take a look at what we expect:
C: Brian Schneider, Raul Casanova
Schneider’s hamstring remains balky, as does Ramon Castro’s. Schneider maintains he could go if he needed to, but he’s had 5 ABs all spring. Even so, I’ll assume Schneider will be there at this point. Fathead Castro is still waiting for his MRI to come back. I think he’s shelved for a while, and Casanova, a respectable backup, will be there Opening Day.
1B: Carlos Delgado
Until the anvil falls on his head cartoon-style, I’ll assume he’ll make it to Opening Day. Seriously…4 stitches from a broken bat? Somebody better break out Cerrano’s JoBu, and load up on the rum…the good stuff, not the bottle on the shelf with Crazy Horse and Olde English 800.
2B: Luis Castillo
Hobbled himself, Castillo took his sweet time coming back, but supposedly feels OK after playing a few games. In fact, he says he wants to run more. I want to be in the shape I was when I played in college…wanting it won’t make it happen. Let’s just try to keep Castillo’s legs functional and let Reyes steal the bases around here.
3B: David Wright
No problems here. Are there ever?
SS: Jose Reyes
Pair of steals today make me think Jose is gearing up for Opening Day. Obviously no issue here.
OF: Carlos Beltran, Ryan Church, Endy Chavez
Beltran feels fine, which was the big concern. Back to back days in the field have been handled well, so that should mean he’s good to go.
Rotation: Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Oliver Perez
Bullpen: Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano
That’s 16 guys we’re reasonably sure about. Sure, Castro depends on the MRI, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Since the final spots are usually weighing bullpen roles, we’ll work backward from there on the final 9 slots.
Mike Pelfrey should get the final rotation slot. El Duque hasn’t even pitched in a game yet, so while Pelfrey hasn’t been as sharp his last two times out as the first two, he’s still the best option here. Leave Hernandez down in Florida to fix his bunions or whatever else is bothering him. Dismissing Hernandez is foolish, as he was their best pitcher last year when he was healthy. But he’s incredibly frustrating to deal with.
Jorge Sosa has been great, as has Scott Schoenweis. That takes care of your long reliever and your second situational lefty.
The team wants Duaner Sanchez ready. But he has to show he’s able to pitch 3 or 4 times a week, and so far the Mets haven’t seen that. Still, what other options are there. The fact is, the team can carry 12 pitchers if they aren’t sure about Sanchez’s workload. Consider him a given, and if they want backup, Matt Wise will make the team as the 12th arm over sidearmer Joe Smith, who many feel has great stuff but needs to develop a bit more confidence/killer instinct. In fact, Pelfrey could even be left off the Opening Day roster since the Mets don’t need a 5th starter until the second week.
Four spots left. Damion Easley gives right-handed pop and infield versatility. Marlon Anderson is a lock as the best pinch-hitter on the planet. Angel Pagan has been outstanding this spring, and while that doesn’t mean he’ll be great going forward, it does mean he gets the hot-hand benefit of the Mets current outfield problem.
With one slot left, the assumption is Jose Valentin. But this new neck problem could mark the end of Valentin, as it’s not really a new problem, but an old one that’s crept back. I like Jose a lot, personally and as a useful role player. But I don’t think he’s making this team out of camp. He may get the "extended stay" in Florida rather than be sent to AAA, but I can’t see them bringing him north with the team at this point. I have an odd feeling Valentin’s career is over, and that’s a shame.
I think Brady Clark is going to get the last spot on this roster. He’s hitting .300 this spring, can run a bit, is regarded as a solid defender and can play all three outfield spots. Don’t be surprised if he is told to grab a first baseman’s glove and pick up some ABs there as well if Delgado needs a breather. Perhaps that’s just me trying to justify my praise of his pickup a few weeks ago on this blog.