|Manager Terry Collins gives Mets camp a refreshing dose of enthusiasm. (US Presswire)|
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- What I like, and don't like, about the Mets:
• For once, all the key Mets players have come to camp seemingly in good health. There are no major injuries holding anyone back so far, though the question still persists whether ace Johan Santana's shoulder holds up. If it does, and he gets back close to his old form, that would be a major benefit to the upstart team. David Wright, Jason Bay and Ike Davis also appear to be at full strength early in camp.
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• They have two young power hitters in Davis and Lucas Duda who could be stars. Davis looked like he was about to become one when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury while colliding with Wright early last season, and Duda emerged from virtual anonymity to put together a big second half and provide hope for the future.
• There is hope for the future rotation with big Matt Harvey in major-league camp and Zack Wheeler in minor-league camp. Both right-handers were first-round picks, and both are exhibiting the talent that justifies their lofty draft position. Harvey has vowed to try to make the big club out of camp (there is almost zero chance of that happening), but both should become mainstays in the rotation for years to come.
• They seem to have a rather upbeat attitude for a team that appears hopelessly outmanned on paper. Manager Terry Collins' exuberance appears to be a good match for this group. Plus, I have to admit I like the Underdog T-shirts they've been sporting around the clubhouse.
• Even with Davis and Duda (plus moved-in fences at Citi Field), they are still at a major power deficit. Their 108 home runs were third worst in the NL last year to the Padres' 91 and the Astros' 95. They will definitely need Bay to regain his old power stroke just to stay even with some others.
• The rotation is no better than average at best, even if Santana can become some semblance of an ace again. Jonathon Niese is a promising young left-hander, so a step forward by him would help. But on paper, their rotation looks fifth best of the five teams in their division. Depth also is a major issue. If any of the main five goes down, there is no obvious No. 6.
• They are expecting an improved bullpen, but the names still don't suggest they'll be world beaters. A year ago, their 'pen was second worst in the league to Houston (which was barely a major-league team) with a 4.33 ERA, the result of a dreadful second half. However, that stat included the first half when excellent closer Francisco Rodriguez was still on the team. Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez do provide more depth than they had last year, so that's a plus.
• The Madoff issue could become a drag on a team that has already cut its payroll by one-third. Will an adverse court ruling or two mean more cuts are coming? Is David Wright just biding his time? When will they get to spend again?