PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- What I like and don't like about the Mets:
What I like
• The names. The Mets have nine players in camp this spring who have made All-Star teams. They have a Cy Young winner (Johan Santana), they have the pitcher who set the single-season saves record (Francisco Rodriguez) and they have a guy who once finished fourth in MVP voting (Carlos Beltran). They have names. Even Luis Castillo was an All-Star once.
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• The storylines. Mets camp definitely wasn't the happiest place to be this spring. There were times it felt like the most depressing place to be. But it sure wasn't boring.
• The comebacks. Jason Bay said the concussion that cost him half the 2010 season hasn't been an issue, to the point where when he played in his first game and reporters came to talk to him, he couldn't figure out why they thought he was a big deal that day. Jose Reyes, who stole 78 bases in 2007 but because of injuries had just 41 steals in the last two seasons combined, seems healthy this spring, too.
What I don't like
• The reality. Of those nine players who have made All-Star teams, how many can be expected to play at an All-Star level this year? Maybe Reyes, maybe David Wright. Anyone else?
• The slow, slow comebacks. Santana had shoulder surgery, and if it's hard to know when he'll pitch again for the Mets, it's even harder to know whether he'll ever pitch at the level he once did. Beltran had knee surgery, and he has already agreed to move from center field to right field. But if where he plays is an issue, the bigger issue is that he had trouble getting on the field at all this spring.
• The ownership mess. The Wilpon family tried to claim for a long time that its involvement with Bernard Madoff would have no impact on the Mets. It's more obvious than ever now that that's not true. If anything, the Madoff mess will end up costing the Wilpons the team, but not before months of legal maneuvers. Get ready for lower payrolls, and smaller-than-ever crowds at Citi Field.
• The same old same old. The Mets basically played with a 24-man roster last August, because Oliver Perez was useless and ownership insisted he couldn't be released. If the Mets had been serious about changing the culture, they would have released Perez (and Castillo, too) at the end of the season at the latest. Instead, Castillo has a chance to be the starting second baseman, and the Mets went through the charade of having Perez compete for a job in the rotation, and then for a job in the bullpen.