Remarkably, most of it is good! Given the team’s depth, any amount of time the Mets can spend this year with the vaguely insurmountable problem of how their frontline starting talent stacks up to the rest of the division is immensely valuable. It keeps New York from facing the completely insurmountable problem of matching up theur backup plans against the division’s top talent, or even the division’s backups.
So let’s start with all the good news. David Wright, who hasn’t played in a spring game yet, aims to change that today. This gives him about ten days to get ready for the season. Here’s where it is worth pointing out that it is far more important to have Wright back for Game 3, say, than Game 1 if it means he rushes and aggravates his injury. But there you have it: Wright playing. How his injury, which he is rehabbing instead of having corrected with surgery, will respond to game conditions remains to be seen.
Johan Santana also pitches today, with an eye on 90-95 pitches. If he throws anything like he did last week, it reinforces a notion that once seemed fanciful: Santana, on Opening Day, pitching like the Johan Santana of old.
So this stuff is big: the team’s most valuable position player and pitcher look to take steps forward today. Add in Scott Hairston, reserve outfielder extraordinaire, looking like he could play as soon as Wednesday, and center fielder Andres Torres feeling better, and everything is coming up blue and orange, right?
Well, not exactly. Thankfully Hairston/Torres are on the mend, because Hairston could be needed for things like subbing for Jason Bay, who was hit in yesterday’s game. The injury appears to be nothing, but the larger point holds: Hairston is all that stands between an outfield injury and regular playing time for Mike Baxter or Adam Loewen, a pair of great unknowns. Doesn’t mean they can’t help; just means that counting on them is silly.
And in the great search for a lefty, Tim Byrdak’s recovery from knee surgery means that the Mets need a fallback plan. It had been Garrett Olson, a washed-out former starter, but Olson was hit on the hand yesterday as well. So it could well be Josh Edgin, a live arm who hasn’t pitched above A-ball. (This is what lack of depth means, folks.)
But look: the big pieces are Santana and Wright, who won’t be enough to bring a massive number of wins by themselves, but whose absence would be catastrophic. That alone is reason to celebrate today.