Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/14/12

The Mets continued their path of cutting payroll that started after the 2010 season. The team slashed $60 million off payroll, and the squad that's left really doesn't look like it will make it out of the basement of the NL East. Strange things have happened in this crazy game of baseball, but I don't think "New York Mets: 2012 NL East champions" has a snowball's chance in Hell of going down.

Mets on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Top Ten Prospects
You May Say I'm a Dreamer 

Depth Chart (as of 3/14)
C: Josh Thole
1B: Ike Davis
2B: Daniel Murphy
SS: Ruben Tejada
3B: David Wright
LF: Jason Bay
CF: Andres Torres
RF: Lucas Duda
SP: Johan Santana
SP: RA Dickey
SP: Jon Niese
SP: Mike Pelfrey
SP: Dillon Gee
CL: Frank Francisco

New Faces
Andres Torres is probably the biggest name brought in this offseason by the Mets, who was acquired from the Giants in exchange for former center fielder Angel Pagan. The Mets also brought in a pair of former Blue Jays relievers in Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. And that's pretty much it for the Mets.

Departures
The big name is obviously Jose Reyes, who signed a huge contract with the Marlins in December. Several role players also were not brought back, including Jason Isringhausen, Ronny Paulino, Wilile Harris, Chris Young, and Chris Capuano. Pagan was of course dealt to the Giants, and the team lost former top prospect Fernando Martinez on waivers to the Astros.

Impact Rookies
The Mets really don't have a great farm system, and their two best prospects are young pitchers: Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey. Harvey finished his year at AA, and may actually sniff the majors in late 2012 depending on how he performs in AAA. Wheeler is at least a year away, though. Another top pitching prospect, Jenrry Mejia, had Tommy John last May, and will probably need to work his arm out until midseason before he's ready for a midseason term in the majors. Kirk Nieuwenhuis could sniff the outfield in the majors too, if not as a starter, then coming off the bench.

Position Battles
Not much to see here. The Mets seem ready to roll with what they have, minus a tweak here or there. My major issue is that the team is letting Francisco close, when they've got a perfectly capable option in Bobby Parnell, who is outright dominant at times.

Injury Concerns
Johan Santana missed all of 2011 after shoulder surgery, and needs to get back into the grind of the majors. David Wright is seemingly made of glass, and missed two months with a stress fracture in his back last season. Scott Hairston, a fantastic bat off the bench, will miss at least the start of the season with a strained oblique. Reliever Tim Byrdak will miss at least a couple of weeks of the season after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. 

Burning Question
Should the Mets keep blowing their team up by trading Wright, Santana, and Jason Bay, or use those guys as a core to build around?

Best Case
It's pretty bad that a best case scenario for the Mets involves them finishing around .500. I think that would be a huge success. They'd need Wright and Bay to stay healthy and power the offense, and for Santana to be his old dominant self for that to happen.

Worst Case
SEE: 2011. Everyone got hurt, and the Mets were awful. They could be even worse this year without Reyes and Carlos Beltran in their lineup too. 100 losses could come quite easily.

Realistic Prediction
I don't think the Mets are making it out of the basement of the NL East, and they'll probably lose (at least) 90 games. There's a lot of catastrophic events possible here that could result in the team's remaining high-priced veterans getting dealt by July 31st, and if that happens, they could push 100 losses.

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