By Rich Coutinho
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The 2011 season has been an interesting journey for the New York Mets. There have been some fun moments but there have also been some forgettable ones. So, as the Mets play out the string down the homestretch, they need to find out some things. Here is my Top 5 list:
1. What Is Wrong With Jason Bay? Or maybe more properly will he ever be a run producing bat? It is a great question and I must admit the enigma of Jason Bay is one that leaves me scratching my head. This is a guy who was a proven run producer and did it in Boston where the press scrutiny might be even tougher than it is in New York. But clearly something has happened to him. Maybe his bat speed has slowed down. Maybe he is putting too much pressure on himself. Maybe he is tinkering with his stance too much. Whatever it is, the Mets must help him find himself because the reality is they can not move him and he will be the everyday left fielder next year. Getting him right will have a big impact on the 2012 Mets.
2. Where Will Daniel Murphy Play? The good news is that Daniel Murphy proved that he can be a core bat in the middle of this lineup. The bad news is the National League does not use the DH. Putting him at second base is not the answer because, quite frankly, Murphy never looked quite right there. He was a serviceable first basemen but his best infield position is third base which is currently manned by David Wright. I really do believe that the best option for him is the outfield but the issue there is you can only put him in right field (with Bay in left) and I am not sure he has the arm to play that position. The health of Ike Davis could have a big impact on the decision since Murphy would play first base in his absence. The injury he suffered makes this an even harder decision since a healthy Murphy might have gotten some games in the outfield come September.
3. What Do The Mets Have in Dillon Gee and Jonathan Niese? I think I know the answer to this question but the biggest thing I want to see from these 2 is a strong effort in September. You always want to see young pitchers excel in that month because it is the month their innings workload begins to pile up. In Niese’s case, this is particularly important since he struggled late last year. I do think both of these youngsters are in the plans for the 2012 rotation but their durability in the season’s final month will make that a certainty.
4. Is Angel Pagan The Long-Term Solution In Center Field? After having a breakthrough season in 2010, Pagan has struggled this year both at the plate and in the field. I am much more concerned about his defensive struggles because in the spacious outfield of Citi Field having a speedy defender is an absolute necessity. I firmly believe Pagan’s issues are mental rather than physical because he really wants to excel and at times, puts too much pressure on himself. I think he needs to show Terry Collins much more in these final six weeks in order to be in the center field conversation come next spring.
5. Is The 2012 Met Closer On The Roster Right Now? The answer to that question is we just don’t know. Both Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato have not been given enough of a chance to make any kind of educated evaluation. In fact, I really believe Beato’s future as a Met may be more in the rotation than in the bullpen. That being said, there is no future in having Jason Isringhausen close games. He will not be the closer next year and you simply have to find out what you have in Parnell. That way, Sandy Alderson could make a determination on whether the next Met closer comes from outside the organization.
Do you have some answers to these questions? Leave a comment below.