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Lucas Duda has power but a tenuous hold on first base, and Eric Young is a threat to run when he gets on base. But that is where the reliable production stops. Juan Lagares has hit in the minors, but needs to prove he can do it at the next level. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and shortstop Ruben Tejada lack proven hitting talent. FIELDING Teams want their middle infield to be strong, but the Mets will have to settle simply for competence from Tejada and Murphy, neither of whom distinguished himself last year in the field. In fact, competence might be a step up for them. Wright remains a stalwart at third, but Duda is weak at first. We don’t have enough of a book on d’Arnaud to tell whether he will be a strong backstop, but he didn’t commit an error in 30 games behind the plate last year. In center, Lagares just missed out on a Gold Glove last year. Granderson has made only 18 errors in 10 years, and though his arm isn’t as good as it once was, he is a sturdy rightfielder. Chris Young isn’t as reliable as Granderson, but he is in no way a liability in left. STARTING PITCHING As if the Mets haven’t received enough bad news over the past few seasons, Jon Niese struggled with injuries all Spring. At first, his arm was dead. Then, the shoulder was an issue. Finally, the pain moved to the elbow. The good news? No structural damage. But with Johann Santana in the rear-view mirror, and Matt Harvey (Tommy John surgery) out until at least September, Niese’s troubles are not soothing. If he recovers, he’ll be number two behind soon-to-be-41-year-old free-agent acquisition Bartolo Colon, who went 18-6 last year. The rest of the rotation has potential, thanks to Dillon Gee (12-11), Zack Wheeler (7-5) and Jenrry Mejia (3-8). RELIEF PITCHING No one can point to the Mets’ pen and say that it is filled with star power. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but depth is lacking, and closer Bobby Parnell is likely gone for the season. The road to the ninth includes Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde. They are older relievers that have some work to do to be considered reliable. The rest of the bullpen includes lefty Scott Rice, Jeurys Familia and Gonzalez German. For a team that has a rotation without guys who can be counted on to work into the eighth and ninth innings of games, having a bullpen of inconsistent performers isn’t the best thing. MANAGING Anybody who decides to blame the Mets’ recent problems on Terry Collins would be making a big mistake, but the reality of the situation is that if the team doesn’t get above .500 this season, Collins could be in some trouble. Barring a collection of bad moves from the dugout, Collins is a solid presence and a good choice to handle a young pitching staff. His biggest challenge will be to make sure a lineup that includes a lot of players who struggled with injury last year, can stay on the field. That will require use of the bench, which won’t be easy, since there aren’t a lot of good options there. Contention is unlikely, but don’t look for things to fall apart because of Collins. Curtis Granderson JOEL AUERBACH/GETTY IMAGES SPORT


2014 Chicago-North Gameday HQ
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