By Will Carroll
February 29, 2012
The Mets' health problems have become a symbol for a franchise with cracks at the foundations. The team's flukish 2008 season will hold back five-year ranks until it rotates off in a few years no matter how they did in the other four ... but they didn't do well in the other four. Ray Ramirez is well-respected around the league and well-liked in his clubhouse, but the results are starting to seep over the gunwales. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York went on a Twitter rant earlier this season, bashing medical failure after medical failure, though, in large part, much of the problem is the Mets not setting reasonable expectations. They invariably gave very short return times and downplayed the severity of injuries, so even a normal recovery looked like it was long and filled with setbacks. Maybe the PR staff should go before the medical staff. The off-field issues probably won't help here, especially with depth, but the Mets will need to show some quick improvements. Medical ones are the most cost-efficient, something that's now very important to this "big market" franchise.

Health Keys: Getting Ike Davis and Johan Santana back, then keeping them on the field.

(HEAD TRAINER: Ray Ramirez; FIVE YEAR RANK: 29; 2011 RANK: 25)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
SS Ruben Tejada
He's young, he's quick, and he had a better eye than his minor league numbers predicted. He's never going to be Jose Reyes, but he's not Rey Ordonez either. Tejada's a nice "bridge" SS. He'll play well enough until the Mets can buy someone better.

RF Lucas Duda
In theory, concussions are one-time events. Assuming Duda doesn't bounce his head off the fence again, we can safely ignore it. Besides that, he's been pretty healthy, and being at one position all year should help.

Also Green:
SP Mike Pelfrey
SP R.A. Dickey

C Josh Thole
Thole's only real issue is that without a solid backup, he'll be asked to catch more games this season. He can probably handle 120 well. More is pushing it.

3B David Wright
Wright missed time with a "stress" fracture in his back. (It wasn't, since we know exactly when and how it happened.) He played through pain until they finally found the problem, though this is a tricky diagnosis. The public pressure on him this season will be huge, but the fences moving in will help since that was designed for him. The System had him pegged as a 140-game guy last season and that should be where he is going forward.

CF Andres Torres
Torres' 2011 looked like a Mets players season. He battled small nagging injuries so many times he could never get on track. Thing is, he was with the Giants last season, a team that's very good with those kind of things. Shifting over doesn't give The System much hope that things will change.

SP Jon Niese
Niese followed a big innings increase in '10 with a so-so campaign in '11, ending with an intercostal strain in August. He fought fatigue from Spring Training on, but I'll take something traumatic like the intercostal over a shoulder injury as we often see with this type of situation. He's got some upside and could challenge the 190-inning wall, giving the Mets rotation something to build around.

SP Dillon Gee
Gee hit a wall at about the 130-inning mark, which is to be expected. Pitching coach Dan Warthen didn't seem to notice and kept pushing him. He's a yellow risk up to 180 this season.

RP Jon Rauch
Rauch is an example of how far sports medicine has come with labrum injuries. Heck, Mets physicians are leading the change in thinking on labrums, so there's some poetry in him being there. He's not as risky as a yellow might make him seem, but the history holds him at this level. Given the likelihood of Frank Francisco missing time, Rauch is likely to pick up some saves, giving him fantasy upside as a late round pick.
1B Ike Davis
The System was smarter than me last year. I waved off the low yellow it slapped on Davis and then Davis was slapped with a nasty, lingering ankle injury. Doctors have been very mixed on both the actual injury and the recovery time, leaving many wondering if Davis will be ready for Spring Training and beyond. This has some similarities to the Kendrys Morales saga -- flukish causation, extended recovery with bone that won't heal. The new fences at Citi will help him, if he can play.

2B Daniel Murphy
Murphy's season has ended twice with MCL sprains, caused by takeout slides at 2B. Multi-position players don't often have the same kind of new position risk that others do, but that assumes that they're comfortable at those positions and have the requisite skills to avoid the pitfalls of the position. Murphy doesn't and even a full spring of work at 2B isn't going to change the risks.

LF Jason Bay
Bay's knees have held up and they were the worry that Boston had when he left. Problem is, everything else has broken down since he came to the Mets. At 33, I'm not hopeful of any real changes, and the Mets have been terrible at keeping players from experiencing the small but nagging injuries that have sapped Bay's value.

SP Johan Santana
There's a chance he doesn't come back at all. Last year was always a longshot, given the type of injury he had (anterior capsule tear) and the surgery to fix it. The upside example would be late-career Pedro Martinez, who came back without the same stuff but knew how to pitch without it. Santana could be that guy still, even with the poor 2011 results. Value him as a half-season starter at 80 percent of his previous value and you'll have it about right, with some upside in there.

CL Frank Francisco
Most people hear "pectoral" and think chest. Don't do that with Francisco. His problem is where the pectoralis attaches, in the shoulder. Pitcher plus lingering shoulder problem equals red, every time. Francisco's motion creates some kind of friction and/or impingement on that location which at best means missed time and at worst means that whole shoulder could break down at some point.

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