-- Damon B., Valley Cottage, N.Y.
If the salary figure you presented is accurate, my sense of it is that the Mets ought to use the money they would have used to pay Bengie Molina and sign Hudson. They like him. They sense he would be an upgrade in the field on the bases and probably at bat, and they know he's been an energizer and a good man in the clubhouse. But their plan appears to be to play Luis Castillo unless another club takes him and his $12 million obligation off their hands.
Why are so many people down on the Mets' 2010 offense? With Jason Bay, David Wright and Jeff Francoeur, the Mets have three healthy young men, each of whom has knocked in 100 runs in a season. Jose Reyes steals 60 bases a year, Daniel Murphy has excellent potential and Angel Pagan needs to hold the fort a few weeks until perennial All-Star Carlos Beltran returns. The Mets have question marks due to health and consistency with their pitching, but why the gloom and doom about the offense?
-- Tom C., Bronx, N.Y.
The lack of left-handed power until Beltran returns is an issue. The Mets, manager Jerry Manuel acknowledges, need to prosper early in the season to distance themselves from last season and gain some first-person plural confidence. The absence of Beltran for even a month makes that a greater challenge. The projected run production from second base and catcher is not good. And until Reyes proves that he's able to run and Wright demonstrates that last season was an aberration, it seems the benefit of the doubt is being withheld from the Mets' offense by most folks, me included.
The Mets are missing the dynamic that creates champions. I believe Johan Santana, Wright and Murphy and possibly Francoeur have more desire to win than the rest of the team put together. I'm not knocking other players, but bringing in John Smoltz and/or Pedro Martinez would do more to inject this team with the shot it needs to win.
-- Gary S., Orlando, Fla.
I don't think you'll see Martinez in a Mets uniform again. But the club does have a degree of interest in Smoltz. The condition of his arm is an issue, of course. But if he were to make 25 starts, that issue would fade. But how can they tell? And the club already has six potential starters with issues. But I would enjoy watching Smoltz pitch regularly.
Have a question about the Mets?
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If Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden and/or Mike Piazza are elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, would any of the three be inducted as a Met?
-- Thomas S., Staten Island, N.Y.
First of all, decisions on Gooden and Strawberry probably won't be necessary. Neither garnered the minimum percentage of votes, five percent, in his first year of eligibility for the Hall. Gooden was checked on 3.3 percent of the ballots cast for the 2006 class, and Strawberry on merely 1.2 the previous year. Piazza is likely to garner great support. But whether he is depicted on his plaque as a Dodger or Met is a determination the Hall of Fame will make. With him, it will be a very difficult call.
I have just read a Q&A from your forum. It was honestly distasteful to someone of my age (21). Fans have the right to complain and speak out whenever we feel the need to. I do agree the game has changed, but when you're a fan, you don't want to see your team lose, especially the way the Mets lose. You want to see progress and see your team win. I believe the Mets have an internal problem, and if it is not fixed, the team will never win again. Do you agree that as a fan, it is tough to grasp that your team is not bound to win because the organization does not take the proper steps to success?
-- Edwin, last initial and hometown not provided
You have every right to complain. I never said you didn't. People of my generation had the same right and seemingly exercised it less. And yes, I do understand how disappointing it can be to believe the team you root for has problems. But Cubs fans find a way to root. And the Cubs have been disappointing them for decades.
You wrote a nice article about Jane Jarvis. It was appreciated by real Mets fans. When the club announced the Hall of Fame inductees, you were mentioned as one of the voters. Can you vote for Jane next time around? She was as much a part of Shea Stadium as the Apple or any player. RIP, Jane.
-- Sandy M., Little Falls, N.J.
Thank you. The committee has had discussions about non-player personnel and behind the scenes folks such as Jarvis, former director of stadium operations Bob Mandt and former head groundskeeper Pete Flynn.
Do you think that the Mets acquiring Gary Matthews Jr. could set them up for a trade involving Pagan and a couple of others for Gil Meche and a young center fielder to replace Beltran in time?
-- Danny S., Catskill, N.Y.
The Mets making a deal to import Meche was an Internet topic in December during the Winter Meetings. Dealing a reserve outfielder plus others for Meche makes more sense to me than carrying two reserve outfielders with skills. It seems to me, though, that Pagan is closer to the top of his game than Matthews is and that he has far greater value because of skills, age and financial obligation.
If we accept the generally held view that expectations for the Mets this year are best described as modest, how does the club manage to retain players of the quality of Santana, Wright, Beltran and Reyes? Surely for professional sportsmen with finite careers, money can`t adequately compensate for lost opportunity and the embarrassment of being a conspicuous part of nationally televised baseball mediocrity?
-- Michael D., Rome, Italy
Each of the players you mentioned is under contact to the Mets. They can't play elsewhere.
Two points of clarification concerning responses to the previous Inbox -- I did forget to include Randy Wolf. He was my first choice last year, too. And I never said the Mets were out of it before the season began. What I did say, before the beginning of Spring Training, was that I don't think they will emerge as a contender. There's a difference.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.