That, Shannon, is an important question with a pretty easy answer: It’s R.A. Dickey in a landslide. The only identifiable sleeper candidate is Manny Acosta, who has in the past boasted the team’s most underrated hair. But if I’ve seen Acosta hatless since his return, I can’t remember it.
At that rate? Sure. Hairston has done all sorts of valuable Scott Hairston things in his tenure with the Mets: He crushes lefties, he seems willing and comfortable working primarily as a reserve player, and he plays passable to decent defense at all three outfield positions. And almost all the Mets’ outfielders with a shot at a roster spot next season hit left-handed: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter, Matt den Dekker. They’ve got righty-hitting Jason Bay and switch-hitting Andres Torres under control for next year, but it wouldn’t be particularly surprising if neither breaks camp with the 2013 Mets.
This is really Toby’s department, but I’ll sort of bite: This might as well be a trick question, since the Mets appear to have about eight outfielders in the Majors and Triple-A who look capable of being Major League pieces but probably not Major League starters. At this point, it seems safe to figure that none of Hairston, Torres, Bay, Fred Lewis and Adam Loewen will be more than a Major League piece. There’s still hope for Duda, Nieuwenhuis and den Dekker to emerge as Major League starters, but they’ve all got warts to address before they do.
Duda will hit again, and probably hit enough to be a Major League regular in some form. It’s almost certainly not in right field at Citi Field, though, so for him to emerge as a Major League starter as an outfielder he’s going to have to take to left. Nieuwenhuis might have the best chance of anyone to wind up an everyday player, regardless of his recent struggles. He’ll have to cut down on the strikeouts and improve against lefties, obviously, but he looks good enough to play anywhere defensively and his offensive numbers look palatable if you consider his relative youth and all his missed time last season. It won’t take much improvement for him to become a low/middle-of-the-pack offensive center fielder.
I’ll guess no. Picking up Ramon Hernandez (if it’s only for money) seemed to make sense a week ago, but if the Mets want Johnson around to foster Harvey’s development, I doubt Hernandez’s bat is good enough to make it worth carrying three catchers. And I don’t think it’s time to give up on Thole. By most accounts, his defense has improved a lot this year. His offensive numbers have fallen off a bit, but he’s only 25 and his career Major League rates — the largest available sample — suggest he’s already nearly a league-average catcher.