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MLB preview: New York Mets

There are four really good to really good teams in the NL East, and then there are the Mets, who only happen to play in the biggest market in the country.

2011 record: 77-85 (4th in NL East). Projected 2012 finish: 66-96 (5th in NL East).

Projected starters: 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 Mike Pelfrey, SP Jonathon Niese, SP R.A. Dickey, SP Dillon Gee, CL Frank Francisco, RP Jon Rauch, RP Ramon Ramirez.

Half-full outlook: Santana and Bay producing like they're being paid to do, and like they did in their primes, would go a long way to solving the Mets' ails. That's extremely unlikely, but I guess you never know. New York still does have Wright, whose last really great season was in 2008 but who is a much better bet to get back to that level than Bay and Santana are. Davis, if healthy, is a fairly promising young hitter, and Niese could be turning into a pretty good pitcher. Otherwise the best thing I can say for the Mets is that they seem to really be embracing rebuilding (even if it's because of their ownership situation), and brighter days may lay ahead ... years from now.

Half-empty outlook: With Jose Reyes gone to Miami, Wright is probably the only Met that you can look at as a decent bet for star-level production ... and Wright is always a huge injury risk, even if he isn't traded. What else is there to like? My next-favorite part of the team is probably the starting rotation, if only because every one of the guys is at least a bit intriguing. There is not, however, even one starter who I would consider a safe bet for 200 solid innings, and if I had to rank NL East rotations, I'd rank the Mets fifth without thinking twice. Again, that's maybe the best part of the team. I'd be very surprised if the Mets don't finish in last place.

Halfway between the two outlook: When your owners are going through what the Wilpons are going through, you obviously can't come close to spending your way to solutions for the many problems on this roster. In a way, that may be a good thing, if it keeps the Mets from handing out awful contracts they way they have for the last several years. In the short term, however, the Mets consequently have almost no hope of competing. Given the division it plays in, winning 75 game would be a major feat for this team.

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