Oliver Perez / Derek Lowe / Randy Wolf
Jon Niese / Randy Wolf / ???
The first three are pretty easy here. The other two are still way up in the air. Maine and Pelfrey could be flipped, if you think Pelfrey will be that effective this season. History is not on his side. Brandon Knight is actually listed as the Mets 5th starter on the depth chart.
Outside of the ones we know, I hope the Mets start to stockpile pitching. They're going to need starters when the injuries start, and we all know they're inevitable. I'd like to see Lowe over Perez and Perez over Wolf. I'm scared to hand the starting role to Niese. He needs someone to compete with through spring training.
Closer: Francisco Rodriguez
Set up: J.J. Putz
A left handed reliever
That's my best guess. The first two are shoe-ins. I believe the Mets will give Sanchez another go-around. If he can prove his worth in spring training, he's back on the team. Hopefully his arm can hold up this time around.
Parnell is a total guess. I don't think the Mets want to use him as a reliever, but they will. The Mets still need another lefty out of the 'pen after trading away Scott Schoeneweis. Maybe, just maybe, they'll get a guy who can throw at least one inning. The lefty specialist role is really wearing on me.
Update: I'm dropping Parnell from this list. He won't make the team out of the gate, but will almost definitely make it up to the big leagues during the season.
1B: Carlos Delgado
2B: Orlando Hudson
SS: Jose Reyes
3B: David Wright
The corners are locks, as is shortstop. Yes, I think the Mets will find a suitor for Luis Castillo (Kansas City? Cincinatti?) and will sign Hudson. Though I expect Hudson to get injured (Hudson is only two years younger than Castillo, and has also spent significant time on the DL) I think Mets fans will just be happy that Castillo is gone -- even if the Mets have to eat part of his albatross of a contract.
I think they will sign Cora, or someone to his degree to fill in for Reyes, Hudson and maybe even Wright when needed. Anderson, who better get his pinch hitting knack back in '09, can fill in at first, though I'd like to see the Mets try out Murphy there from time to time. I still think he's best suited as a first baseman.
LF: Fernando Tatis / Murphy
CF: Carlos Beltran
RF: Ryan Church
No way, no how do the Mets spring for Manny Ramirez. The Tatis / Murphy combo will be decent at best. Tatis will not hit like 2008 all over again. Beltran is a mainstay, and I couldn't be happier with him. Church, if he can stay healthy, will put up similar numbers to his entire '08 campaign.
Reed and Evans will likely be the fill-ins for Church, with Reed getting the ned for CF when Beltran needs a day.
Update: Evans was dropped in favor of a catcher.
Rumors are swirling that the Mets want to sign Jason Varitek and move Schneider elsewhere. I can't see it happening. People were upset with Schneider's hitting last season, I doubt they'd put up with V-Tek's .220 average. I'd love to see Castro get more time behind the plate if Schneider does stick around. The chemistry between Santana and Castro in undeniable.
(Thanks, James K.)
So there you have it. Not a stretch by any means, but that's how I see the Mets shaking out for the rest of the season. Three more "big" signings or trades -- two for the rotation and one for the bullpen. A tiny signing for the utility playerHopefully a ton more pitchers are brought in "just in case."
To break it down even more...
Pitchers: Santana, Maine, Pelfrey, Lowe / Wolf / Perez, Niese, Rodriguez, Putz, Sanchez, Feliciano, Green, Stokes and some other lefty. (13)
Infielders: Delgado, Hudson, Reyes, Wright, Anderson, Cora, Murphy. (7)
Outfielders: Tatis, (Murphy), Beltran, Church, Reed. (5)
Catchers: Schneider, Castro.
Again, nothing extensive. Castillo is gone, the Mets sign a starter or two, add a lefty in the bullpen and bring on a utility guy. Other than that, the players are already here.
I'll keep track as the season approaches to see which ones I nailed and which ones I missed.