As New Years approaches, it is easy to create your own resolutions. People usually ask for the moon of themselves, only to disappoint by as early as Martin Luther King's Birthday. The key to any successful resolution, naturally, is making it reasonable.
But while I had a terrific 2010, the New York Mets, frankly, didn't. So instead of using this time for things like self-reflection or self-improvement, I'm going to turn the process outward. New York Mets, here are my 2011 New Years resolutions for you instead-a reasonable goal for each of you.
Jose Reyes: 150 games played. Things like production don't worry me-get Reyes healthy enough for 150 contests, and I believe the Mets will be extremely happy with the results. And to be clear, by "healthy", I don't mean "can only hit from one side without pain".
David Wright: More of the same. For all the frustration over David Wright's limitations, it is simply not pointed out enough that he is on track, merely by continuing as he has been producing, to be the finest everyday player in Mets history and a Top 10 all-time third baseman. So whatever the formula's been, stick with it.
Ike Davis: Continue hitting left-handed pitching. In his rookie year, Davis posted a .787 OPS against righties, and .805 against lefties. If he continues to do so, he'll probably develop into a top-10 first baseman or better, given his glove and age. With his strong finish in 2010, he wasn't far off from that level already.
Josh Thole: An .800 OPS. With Ronny Paulino taking the vast majority of what would be Thole's at-bats against lefties, all he'll need is a modest increase from his career .783 OPS against righties to get there.
Angel Pagan: Continued good health. Pagan played in 151 games last season, and provided some of the best production of anyone in the National League. He's also the only reasonable backup to Carlos Beltran in center field-or possibly, the only center fielder on the team. A healthy Pagan should provide a huge lift for the 2011 Mets.
Jason Bay: For his 2010 power to look as strange in retrospect as David Wright's 2009. No one has ever explained how Wright went from 33 home runs in 2008 to 10 in 2009 to 29 in 2010. Bay's drop from 36 in 2009 to 6 in 2010 is only partially explained by missing the final two months. Bay says he is healthy, but healthy won't be enough if he hits like he did last season.
Carlos Beltran: One more year of Carlos Beltran-ness. Maybe that's unfair to ask of a player who turns 34 in April. But one last healthy season would give Mets fans one final shot to properly appreciate Beltran, arguably the finest center fielder in team history, and land Beltran a final payday. The player I saw limp into the locker room after games in 2007, on a pair of knees that both required offseason surgery, and still managed an OPS of .882 during the month he's often blamed for deserves a better final curtain.
Luis Castillo: For Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner or a mystery Keystoner to show they can handle second base. It isn't Castillo's fault that he can't play second base on an every day basis anymore, it was the fault of the previous regime for continuing to put him out there. If he returns in 2011, he'll be booed mercilessly, and it certainly doesn't look like he'll manage a performance to turn those boos into cheers. One stat: he slugged .267 in 2010. .267! He deserves the sweet release of... well, release.
Johan Santana: That regardless of when he returns, that he is Johan Santana. Whether it is in April, June or August, the Mets still owe Santana $24 million in 2012 and $25.5 million in 2013. A healthy Santana is also the team's best shot at a legitimate ace during those years, given the alternatives hitting free agency next offseason and the lottery ticket nature of pitching prospects like Jenrry Mejia and Matt Harvey.
Mike Pelfrey: For good defense and luck on balls in play. In 2008, his ERA was 3.72. In 2009, it ballooned to 5.03. In 2010, it dropped to 3.66. But his xFIP stayed between 4.46 and 4.52 in each of the three seasons. Either Pelfrey failed to exercise some psychological control over the ball once it left his hand in 2009-thus explaining all the Pelfrey mental makeup stories-or else he's a pitcher who pitches to contact, thus leading to a greater reliance on defense and luck than most. I'm betting on the latter.
R.A. Dickey: Phil Niekro's longevity. Niekro had 12 200 innings after the age Dickey is now, 36. With a full season in 2011 like his late-starting 2010, he'll put up his first. And it would be such a pleasure to see him in a Mets uniform for the next decade-plus. More reasonable would probably be to hope for Tim Wakefield's longevity, but nothing about Dickey is particularly normal.
Jon Niese: Production like he put up through August 21 (3.33 ERA) rather than after August 21 (6.55 ERA). Also, hoping that whoever made the final decision to keep pushing him out there in a meaningless season isn't making that decision anymore. Seems overwhelmingly likely.
Francisco Rodriguez: To overcome the difficulties off-the-field last season, recover the overpowering results he managed in 2010, and in spectacular fashion, finish exactly 54 games (http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2004/12/new-york-mets.html).