Rarely does a team have the luxury of their biggest question mark being a two-time Cy Young winner.
But that's where the Mets stand heading into 2012 season.
Johan Santana is in the second-to-last season of a six-year, $137.5 million contact. Slightly over 21 million of that came last season, when he didn't throw a single pitch.
And yet, on a team where nothing seems to go right, the best news of spring training has consistently been about Santana's progress from major shoulder surgery. In his 18 1/3 innings pitched he's allowed 17 hits and struck out 13, while pitching to a 3.44 ERA. While spring training statistics don't necessarily mean much, being healthy enough to throw every five days does.
Manager Terry Collins announced this past weekend that Santana will take the ball on Opening Day. It's been a long road back.
"It means everything that we have done since I had my surgery, all the way to today, has been paid off," Santana told reporters after being named the Game 1 starter. "We worked hard. And I'm very happy. I'm very happy that I have an opportunity to start the season from day one with the team.
That's something that I really was looking forward to. I'm excited about it."
The Mets hope Santana will still be with the team at Game 162 as well. With just one year left on his contract after this season, he could be a prime trade piece on the market this July -- if he is still healthy and depending on how competitive the Mets are this season.
It's no secret those two things will go hand-in-hand as well.
The Mets’ lineup isn’t bad when healthy, it’s their pitching that holds a lot of the questions.
1. Johan Santana, LHP I
f healthy, you can pencil him in for about 175 innings and a sub-3.50 ERA.
2. R.A. Dickey, RHP
When not climbing mountains, the knuckleballer has been the team’s best pitcher the last two years.
3. on Niese, LHP
The 25-year-old could be entering a make or break third full season.
4. Dillon Gee, RHP
If he cuts down his walks (71 in ‘11) he’s a solid No. 4.
5. Mike Pelfrey, RHP
Stop licking your hand and live up to expectations.
Wright, Bay happy to see new walls
If you rebuild it, the home runs will come.
That is the hope for the Mets anyway. After three seasons of woeful home run totals at Citi Field, the Mets organization finally decided to change the dimensions of their cavernous home park.
A shorter left field wall, previously at 16 feet, was built to make the distance shorter and the height was cut in half. The "Mo Zone" in right field was removed altogether, which the cutout area being changed into a straight angle. This brought in the wall from 415 feet to 390 feet.
"It's nice to look out there and you see the adjustments and you know in the back of your mind that hopefully if you hit a ball well, it's going to go out," Wright told reporters after arriving at spring training, where the dimensions in Port St. Lucie were adjusted to mirror Citi Field.
The Mets hope both Wright and Jason Bay will benefit from the smaller dimensions.
Wright has hit just 22 home runs in his three years at Citi Field, while his final three years at Shea Stadium he hit 50 homers, including 21 in 2008 alone.
Bay's power numbers haven't just decreased, they've disappeared. After hitting 36 homers in 2009 with Boston, he's hit 18 in two years with New York.