20 Questions – Revisited!

| jpascullo@queenscourier.com |

     Ah here we are, finally! Hello all, welcome back to the Queens Courier’s New York Mets blog! As you know, three and a half months ago I laid out 20 questions that would be answered over the course of the season by the 2011 Mets team and front office. Well while things were enigmatic prior to the season’s kickoff, we’ve got a better idea of what’s what in Metland now that our hindsight is 20/20. So, as promised, let’s take a look at what did and did not pan out over the course of the season’s first half. Here we go!

1. How will Sandy Alderson’s first season turn out? – Arguably Sandy was the team’s biggest acquisition of the offseason, and so far things have been a nice improvement over his predecessor. He made a number of tiny deals, and none of them can really be considered head-scratchers. He hasn’t been shy to DL any player with an injury, which is good since there won’t be any opportunity to aggravate the injury even further. He’s made the first major deal of this year’s MLB trading period, and it’s one that made plenty of sense. There haven’t been any boneheaded moves out of Alderson, something that certainly can’t be said about Omar Minaya.

2. How will Terry Collins fare as the new Mets manager? – Though he surely wasn’t anybody’s first choice, Collins has done nothing but prove he was the best choice out there last winter. Collins has motivated these players to do their best, and most importantly, boost their confidence by letting them know that they belong in the big leagues. That’s a stark difference than what Jerry Manuel did, and the results have certainly shown. It’s not even a question: the Alderson-Collins connection is much better than the Minaya-Manuel one. Things are looking up.

3. What sort of season will Ike Davis post in Year #2? – Sigh. Well, he WAS avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump with a sweet .302/.383/.543 slash line over his first 36 games. That is, until an odd collision with David Wright in Colorado has put him on the shelf with an ankle injury since May. Things haven’t exactly gone swimmingly for Ike in his recovery, and odds are he’ll eventually need season-ending surgery in order to be 100% for next year. The real question now is whether or not his ankle will be what it once was when 2012 arrives.

4. What can we expect out of second base this year? – How about a revolving door? Brad Emaus who won the job out of spring training was given the boot rather quickly after failing to produce, and since then Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, and Justin Turner have all seen time there. Tejada’s done his typical "all glove, no bat" act, but Murphy and Turner have been impressive. Murph’s got a .312/.351/.446 slash line this season, and Turner’s been decent too with a .272 batting average and numerous clutch hits to his resume.

5. Are we seeing Jose Reyes’ final days as a Met? – It’s all but assured that Reyes will not be dealt prior to the trade deadline. So at least we’ll get to see the potential NL MVP for a little while longer. Reyes has had an incredible season up to this point, leading the league in batting average, hits, three-baggers, and is second in steals with 30. His OBP is nearly .400, which is uncharted territory for Jose. Whether or not he’ll be back for 2012 and beyond…well I guess the jury is still out on that one!

6. Which David Wright will show up in 2011? – Like Ike Davis, Wright was also injured on a strange play, this one a diving tag attempt against the Astros at Citi. Regardless, Wright was hitting a very underwhelming .226 in his first 39 games. He’s on tap to return by the end of the month. Hopefully his return benefits the club rather than detract from it, especially since he’ll be bumping one of Turner and Murphy out of the lineup, two of the more impressive bats this season for the Mets.

7. Will Jason Bay rebound? – Uh…nah, not really. Every time it looks like Bay’s ready to hit consistently, he slips back into a deep slump. Right now he’s 3 for his last 26, with no home runs, no RBI’s. Gary Cohen put it well Friday night; it’s been fits and starts for Bay. Unfortunately the down times have lasted a lot longer than the good ones for Bay, who’s been a real bust ever since he signed in Queens.

8. Can Angel Pagan keep it up? – Unfortunately, this is the second Mets starting outfielder that hasn’t lived up to expectations. He’s just 10 for his last 55, and sports just a .670 OPS on the year. According to FanGraphs, his defense also hasn’t lived up to what it was last year. Angel’s basically looked like the player we were all skeptical about starting prior to last season.

9. What on earth can we expect out of Carlos Beltran? – With Beltran’s two balky knees, no one knew what kind of season he’d have come 2011. Well, he’s outdone all expectations and more. Beltran has been incredibly durable, leading the team in games played at 90. He’s got a .287/.381/.512 slash this season, and is leading the league in doubles with 28. He’s been nothing but money for the Mets this year, but he’s on the trade block all right. Just how much longer will Carlos be producing for the Mets?

10. Can Josh Thole survive as an everyday player? – The answer to this one is no. Not only has Josh’s bat been nothing to write home about in 2011, but his defense has really been brutal too, he leads the NL in passed balls with 13, which is inexcusable. Though backup Ronny Paulino’s glove hasn’t been all that better – he’s 3rd in the league with 6 passed balls – he’s hit .303 on the season, which is always nice to see out of a catcher.

11. Will we see Johan Santana at all? – Ha, not yet we haven’t! It’s been said he’ll be back by the season’s end, but likely won’t be any real difference maker on the year’s final result. But hey, with the way the Mets doctors misdiagnose seemingly everything, let’s first see if he’s even back in the first place. But so far, nothing to report here.

12. Can Mike Pelfrey handle being the ace of the Mets staff? – It sure doesn’t look like he’ll ever be an ace of a pitching staff. Pelf entered play today 5-8 with a 4.55 ERA. He was handed the title of ace this spring, but simply hasn’t run with it. I’ll even go as far to say if Santana does make a comeback this year, Pelf should be the one bumped to make room for him. He’s been the worst starter of the year for our boys.

13. Will Jon Niese’s stamina improve this year? – Niese has been great this year. He’s got a 3.73 ERA in his 118.1 frames of work, and hopefully the good pitching continues until the season’s end, a problem he had last year. But regardless, Niese has been impressive, and I feel the expectations can only get higher for the young lefthander.

14. RA Dickey: Fluke or Fabulous? – Well while Dickey hasn’t been as eye-popping as he was last year, he’s still been very very useful, not fluky. His record wouldn’t show it, but his 3.70 ERA in 121.2 is almost identical to Niese’s, which shows he’s been a bit of a hard luck loser in 2011. Despite that, he’s been very useful in Flushing.

15. How will Chris-squared perform? – Let’s start with Chris Capuano. He’s gone 8-8 with a 4.12 ERA, and has been even better as the season has progressed with a 2.57 ERA in his last 7 starts. Though initially believed to be just a 5 starter, Cap’s been a nice addition to the Mets rotation. Chris Young on the other was good, but it only lasted 4 starts before a shoulder injury cost him his 2011. Then again, his injury opened up a fulltime spot in the front five for rookie Dillon Gee. Though he’s struggled over the course of his last 4 starts, Gee’s proven he certainly belongs in the big leagues for good.

16. What will we see out of K-Rod? – Well, we did see effective closing, that is until he was shipped to Milwaukee in a trade over the All-Star break. Even still, K-Rod was a model citizen following the problems he encountered last year, and was a very productive pitcher when called upon. Best of luck in Wisconsin!

17. Will Bobby Parnell be groomed as the Mets 2012 closer? – Well, the time may be upon us now that K-Rod’s been dealt. Recent talk has said that Jason Isringhausen will get first dibs on any save opportunities, but perhaps that’s just for future trade display. Parnell deserves to be this club’s closer, and whether it be in 2011 or 2012, it’s only a matter of when, not if.

18. Can Tim Byrdak replace Pedro Feliciano? – Well, considering Feliciano won’t be pitching at all this year thanks to injury, I guess Byrdak’s been better. His line against lefties is .246/.306/.404 isn’t exactly the lights-out line he has over the course of his career, but I suppose it’s decent enough considering just how horribly he started off 2011.

19. How will the bench perform? – Honestly, the bench hasn’t been too terrible. Paulino, Murphy, and Turner have all been productive when pressed into duty. Scott Hairston started off slow as molasses, and has come around to be the best of the bunch with an .850 OPS. Willie Harris, Lucas Duda, and Jason Pridie, though none deserve to start, have had their moments over the first half of the season.

20 Last, but certainly not least, will the Mets financial troubles affect this team? – Not really. Frank Robinson, who knows a thing or two about financially struggling teams as he managed the Expos up until their death, said prior to the season that the Mets money woes were worse and that it would distract the team. Fortunately that has not happened, and Collins has done a very good job keeping the team’s head in the game where it belongs. And thankfully for David Einhorn, it looks as if the money woes of the Mets will not be long-lived. Take that Frank!!!