With all the attention the financial issues the Mets are or are not having, we've seemed to forget that there is baseball to be played. Some Mets are starting to arrive at Port St. Lucie, and Pitchers and Catchers are to report next Tuesday.
This is a very important season for the Mets and their new management, led by Sandy Elvis Alderson. Not only do they have to convince their fans that this organization is heading in the right direction, but they also have to figure out a way to compete with all the extraneous distractions stemming from the Madoff incident.
This Spring will also prove to be an important one for three young Mets: Nick Evans, Daniel Murphy, and Fernando Martinez.
When Nick Evans was called up with the roster expansion in September, he showed he was able to hit coming off the bench. He also showed some versatility playing in the outfield. Evans, who mainly played 1B and 3B in the minors before the Mets started tinkering with him, is out of options. If he does not make the Mets out of Spring Training, he will become a free agent.
Being that Evans is a homegrown guy, it would be great to see him land a spot with the team. He has more power than Murphy, with whom he always seems to be compared to. Evans will not be a starter, but could easily fill the back-up role for Wright, Davis, as well as in RF and LF. He showed last year he can hit coming off the bench, and it is nice to have a little pop of the bench from the right side.
Although my take might be in the minority, I believe this is a very important season for Daniel Murphy. Murphy seems to be destined to play second base, whether as a back-up or a platoon. Murphy has had his issues finding a place in the field. He did a decent job at first base in 2009, but with the maturity and ascension of Ike Davis to be the Mets present and future, Murphy will need to prove he can play the field.
Murphy is a more accomplished hitter than Evans, but doesn't have Evans power. Both players seem to be joined at the hip since they first had their debut's with the Mets in 2008. If Murphy doesn't perform well in Spring Training, or is once again injured, I can't see Elvis looking to stay with Murphy for any period of time.
Finally, Fernando Martinez. He has been nothing less than a colossal failure. He has never shown the talent that Omar Minaya believed he had. He has been oft injured, and for a 22 year old, many might think he still has time to prove his talents. Yes, he is only 22, but has been with the Mets since he was 16. He is not a "young" 22 year old, and in my mind, at least, the ship didn't sail, but has sunk. He has not shown me he can unseat anyone in the OF, hasn't shown the power that scouts expected of him, and hasn't shown he can hit Major League pitching. He doesn't have blinding speed, and hasn't shown much baseball acumen. Other than that, he is a Hall Of Famer. The SS FMart hasn't proven it can stay afloat, and it is time for the Mets to move on.
2011 will be a huge turning point for our Mets, but more importantly, it will be the turning point on three homegrown ballplayers.