The Mets pitchers and catchers have to report to Port St. Lucie by tomorrow and have their physicals on Tuesday. There isn’t a lot of intrigue this year given the team’s dire financial situation. But the one pitcher that everyone will be keeping an eye on is Johan Santana. He missed all of last season recovering from surgery on his left shoulder and there are still major questions about when he can come back. And there are even bigger questions about how effective he’ll be when he does come back. The good news is that Santana only has two years left on his deal with the Mets plus a team option for 2014. I never thought that I’d be counting down the days until Santana’s contract ended.
There are some new faces in the bullpen this year. Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, and Frank Francisco will be the newly acquired back of the bullpen. Tim Byrdak will be back as the lefty specialist. D.J. Carrasco might find himself back in the minors again if he can’t keep it together. Carrasco might be pitching along side Pedro Beato at Buffalo this season. Beato started hot last season but ended dreadfully. He’s available to send back to the minors now that the Mets got past his Rule 5 season.
The rotation will be a familiar one depending on Santana’s health. It should be Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, and Dillon Gee. If Santana can’t answer the bell on opening day, Chris Schwinden could be a placeholder until he’s ready.
The catchers are also familiar. Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas are back. Ronny Paulino is gone. The Mets didn’t like his pitch calling or his work ethic. And he didn’t hit enough to justify his shortcomings behind the plate.
Other than the back of the bullpen, it’s a very familiar cast of characters from last season. The Mets pitching, on paper, doesn’t come close to comparing with the rest of the NL East especially if Santana can’t quickly regain his pre-surgery form. Get ready for a long season Mets fans.