5 NEW YORK METS

March 26, 2012

ENEMY LINES

A rival scout sizes up the Mets

Johan Santana is the good news. He looks like he's bounced back. He got up to 90 mph early in camp, and his fastball and change had some finish. He'll be good if he can control those two pitches.... Jon Niese has taken another step forward. He's developed a cutter to keep righthanded hitters honest, and he has a good curve and change. One caution from what I saw with Cole Hamels and Jon Lester years ago: Sometimes lefties who throw cutters and curves end up falling in love with the cutter and lose the feel of their curve.... Their rotation will be respectable. R.A. Dickey is an innings eater who competes.... Terry Collins has much better choices in the bullpen this year. Frank Francisco has the biggest arm and can get guys to swing and miss. He needs to stay away from the middle of the plate.... Jason Bay has not looked great. It almost looks like he's guessing. He'll get a cookie down the middle and pop it up, then other times he'll hit everything. He and David Wright have to hit for this team to have any shot.... Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy are going to play because they can hit, but the team defense is going to suffer.... Ruben Tejada will be a productive major league player. Hopefully he'll be himself and not try to do what Jose Reyes did.... I'm an Ike Davis fan. If he keeps the same approach he had [before his injury], he's going to hit .290, be a 20-plus home run guy and play solid D.... If everything goes right, I think they can win 75 games. It's especially hard being in that division.

THE LINEUP

With 2011 Statistics

MANAGER TERRY COLLINS

2nd season with Mets

[originallink:10882211:1009531]

ROTATION W L ERA WHIP
LH JOHAN SANTANA† 11 9 2.98 1.18
RH R.A. DICKEY 8 13 3.28 1.23
LH JON NIESE 11 11 4.40 1.41
RH MIKE PELFREY 7 13 4.74 1.47
RH DILLON GEE 13 6 4.43 1.38
BULLPEN W SV ERA WHIP
RH FRANK FRANCISCO 1 17 3.55 1.32
RH JON RAUCH 5 11 4.85 1.35

NEW ACQUISITION †2010 STATISTICS

PROJECTED PAYROLL

$91 million

THE NUMBER

39.5

Percentage of home runs allowed by the Mets in 2011 that came at Citi Field, the lowest home rate in the majors. That advantage may disappear this year: In an attempt to goose its punchless offense, New York has lowered the Citi fences and moved them in by as many as 17 feet in places.

MODEST PROPOSAL

In complicated times, teams often return to a simple solution: Fire the manager. After Monday's settlement of a lawsuit by the trustee for victims of Bernie Madoff, the Mets' ownership group is faced with paying $162 million as a penalty for their longtime investments with the Ponzi schemer. New York lost $70 million a year ago, wound up fourth in the NL East and then watched its best player, shortstop Jose Reyes, sign with Miami. The 2012 version of the club projects as a last-place finisher, and it is still trying to get value from Johan Santana's and Jason Bay's huge contracts. But no matter how poor the product on the field this year, or how far attendance at Citi Field plummets, the Mets should stick with Terry Collins. The temperamental manager was hired to oversee a team in transition, and there's no reason to replace him with someone who will have to be fired before New York is good again. Collins is an average manager, and the Mets won't rise or fall on his efforts. But the straightforward Collins won't let them stop competing. There's no need to scapegoat him.

PHOTOJOHN IACONO (WRIGHT) PHOTOJOHN ANGELILLO/UPI/LANDOV (COLLINS)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)