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Saturday, February 15, 2014
Mets roster projection: 2014.01

By Adam Rubin

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets have not yet even taken the field as a unit for spring training, but based on Terry Collins' initial press conference and logic, let's take a first stab at the Mets' Opening Day roster:

Rotation
Jonathon Niese, lhp
Bartolo Colon, rhp
Dillon Gee, rhp
Zack Wheeler, rhp
Daisuke Matsuzaka, rhp

Analysis: Collins said he is leaning toward Niese for Opening Day and after that will configure the rotation taking into account the opponent. The Mets open against the Washington Nationals. And Gee went 4-2 with a 2.72 ERA in six starts against the Nats last season. So figure he gets a start in the first series, rather than in the following series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Unless Dice-K flops in spring training, let's figure he gets the fifth-starter's role out of the gate by virtue of his finish to last season (1.37 ERA in his final four starts). We'll know the answer at least five days before Opening Day, since Matsuzaka -- by virtue of being on a minor-league contract and his veteran status -- must be informed whether he has made the team or be given a $100,000 retention bonus by then. In that scenario, John Lannan, Jenrry Mejia, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard could form an ultra-sound Triple-A Las Vegas rotation to open the season.

Lineup
Eric Young Jr., lf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
David Wright, 3b
Curtis Granderson, rf
Chris Young, cf
Ike Davis, 1b
Travis d'Arnaud, c
Ruben Tejada, ss

Analysis: Collins strongly suggested EY Jr. is his preferred leadoff hitter. If the manager starts him, and if Davis is not traded by Opening Day, this is probably how things look. Officially, it's a competition at first base with Lucas Duda. But Davis' $3.5 million salary suggests otherwise. If Juan Lagares is in the starting lineup, he would man center and Young would shift to left field. Collins repeatedly has said Granderson will bat behind Wright.

Bench
Anthony Recker, c
Josh Satin, 1b/3b
Anthony Seratelli, if/of
Lagares, of
Duda, 1b/of

Analysis: This is definitely the toughest to project right now. Recker should beat out Taylor Teagarden, who is not on the 40-man roster, for the backup catcher role. And Collins likes Satin as a righty-hitting complement to the regular first baseman, whether it's Davis or Duda. Beyond that, the Mets need a backup infielder capable of playing shortstop. Collins mentioned the 30-year-old Seratelli as the most-equipped for that role. The New Jersey native, who has never played at the major-league level, had a .395 on-base percentage with Triple-A Omaha last season while playing all four infield positions as well as right field. Omar Quintanilla also is in camp on a minor-league deal, and Wilmer Flores will get a look at shortstop. Wilfredo Tovar is around, too.

One big question: Will Lagares be on the Opening Day roster if EY Jr. is the leadoff hitter and a regular starter? TC said the Mets will take the best 25 players, so that should include Lagares. The bottom line: Lagares should be able to get some playing time, especially if Chris Young eventually struggles against righty pitching and becomes more of a part-time player. As for Duda making the team over going to Vegas, the Mets need a lefty power bat for their bench. And he can perhaps start once a week in the outfield over Young against a tough righty (with Lagares as a late-game replacement). The Mets also will have the DH for three games in Anaheim, from April 11-13.

Bullpen
Bobby Parnell, closer
Jose Valverde, rhp
Kyle Farnsworth, rhp
Vic Black, rhp
Scott Rice, lhp
Jeurys Familia, rhp
Carlos Torres, rhp

Analysis: Valverde and Farnsworth are here on minor-league deals, but presumably make it if they demonstrate competency during spring training. And Black should comfortably be on the squad as well. Rice will be the primary lefty. Torres capably performed as a spot starter/long reliever last season. So that leaves Familia as the biggest question mark here. Do the Mets instead go with a second lefty, such as Josh Edgin or Jack Leathersich? Or do they go with a prospect such as Jeff Walters? Or Gonzalez Germen?

This roster projection includes four players not currently on the 40-man roster: Dice-K, Seratelli, Valverde and Farnsworth. The Mets already have three spots available, with the 40-man roster at 38 and Matt Harvey due to be shifted to the 60-day DL. So one player would need to be removed.