New York Mets Spring Training Nuggets: Beltran, Santana, 2nd Base

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     Hello everyone, welcome on back to the Queens Courier Mets blog! Opening Day inches ever so closer to actual existence, and the overall atmosphere surrounding every MLB team should be one of optimism. And why shouldn’t it be? Everyone’s got the same record, which means for one day only, everyone is tied for their division’s lead. This of course should be the Mets line of thinking. While everyone in the baseball-know expects the Philadelphia Phillies to run roughshod over the rest of the National League, at the same time you can’t win a thing on paper. Injuries/unexpected ineffectiveness can always deplete an impressive roster, and that’s why you’ve got to play the games. Yes it’s a time to be excited, but meanwhile, we can’t get too over-the-top. Things aren’t 100% in Metland, and there are a number of things that certainly aren’t "finalized" and ready to be wrapped up. In today’s column, we’ll examine those Mets storylines that are still a bit murky.

     First and foremost, let’s talk about Carlos Beltran. Last week we had a reason to be optimistic. He finally made his Grapefruit League debut as the Mets designated hitter going 1-for-3 with a frozen rope single. The following day he sat out with what was called general soreness, but a good kind. And here we are, one week later, and Carlos is AWOL. Reason being? Carlos’ OTHER knee, not the right-sided one that’s been so problematic, now has tendinitis. Just our luck. He’ll continue to work out at the Mets minor league complex, and is said to be expected back by the time Opening Day rolls around. Ok. Stop. Stop right there. I don’t care that the Mets have a new chain of command running things. This organization has had a laughably impossible time trying to communicate things to us. They can say all day and all night that this new problem with Beltran won’t hinder his chances to be ready by April 1st, but I just won’t listen. Until I physically SEE results on the field – for more than one day that is – I will expect the worst-case scenario. It’s just what I’ve adapted to doing when it comes to this ballclub. When I see it, I’ll believe it. My current line of thinking is that Lucas Duda – who has had a good spring – will be the guy in right for the Mets. Sorry, it’s just become really hard for me to believe the things that come out of the mouths of Mets authoritative figures.

     Another player dealing with injury issues of his own is the staff ace, Johan Santana. Today the Wall Street Journal were the first to report that Santana’s rehabilitation has been going poorly, and that the club is on the verge of shutting him down completely, ruling out all of the 2011 season. On the other side of the ball, Santana and Dan Warthen denied this report, saying that Johan’s right on track and is where he ought to be. Other reporters other than the WSJ have been saying similar things however, indicating that the Mets are expecting relatively nothing out of Santana in 2011. See? Here we go again. Two stories that absolutely contradict one another. And once again, we’ve got to play the "won’t believe it til’ I see it" game. Sandy Alderson specifically said to expect Santana back around the All-Star break section of the schedule. Do we believe him? Or do we instead believe that this is another case of the Mets exaggerating things, things they always get wrong in the end? I don’t know. All I do know is that I’m not changing my approach on this, and it’s the same approach I’m taking on Beltran and his knee: Assume the worst. We can’t get our hopes up and expect that Santana will be back sooner or later. Let’s all hope for the best out of hurlers like Pelfrey, Niese, and Dickey, because for all we know, these guys are going to be the permanent frontline members of the Mets starting rotation from April through September.

     And finally, another piece of the Mets puzzle that isn’t yet in place would be the starting second base job. And while that could be understandable since roughly three weeks of spring training remain, the problem with this whole situation is that not one single candidate for the job has really opened eyes on both sides of the ball. Daniel Murphy has hit well enough, but his play in the field has been extremely suspect. Luis Castillo, Brad Emaus, and Justin Turner (the fact Turner’s even in this little tournament kind of speaks volumes to how weak the class is) have all hit light, without any sort of stand-out fielding. The competition has gone so poor, that manager Terry Collins stated that Luis Hernandez is now in the mix as well. At this point, why not? I haven’t read much about his play in the field this spirng, but his 3-for-8 line entering play today is noteworthy I suppose, even if the sample size is pretty minute. Should the Mets be hunting for a second baseman when the MLB Draft arrives in June? It’s been a long time since we’ve had a real reliable staple there. Reese Havens’ career has been derailed by constant injuries, making him hard to swear by, and though Jordany Valdespin put up decent numbers this spring before he was sent to Mets minor league camp, he’s yet to truly establish himself in the minor leagues. I’m not sure who ends up here once camp breaks, but it’s safe to say this will likely be the weakest link in the Mets day-to-day starting lineup.

     Well, I have spoken! Now, you must do the same! What do you think of Carlos Beltran’s latest setback? Do you believe he’ll be good to go when the team heads to Sun Life Stadium for Game #1? Will Johan Santana be back at some point in 2011? And if you had to choose, who is the current frontrunner in the race to win the Mets 2nd base gig? Is the current frontrunner the man you want to see there all season? As always, comment your opinions below, and thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read!