Although the entire city of New York is focused on the Jets and their quest for the Lombardi trophy, it’s tough to ignore the fact that Spring Training is under a month a way. After all, New York is and always will be a baseball town.

Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie on Feb. 18th after a rather quiet offseason. The Mets front office and coaching staff may look a lot different, but the roster hasn’t changed much.

The biggest change to the Mets roster came in the form of injury. Shocker.  They’ll be without Johan Santana, their best and highest paid starting pitcher, until at least July as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his throwing shoulder. Reports came out last week that Santana has been cleared to begin playing catch this month, which puts him right on schedule for a mid-season return to the team.

Sandy Alderson did exactly what he said he was going to do this offseason. He wasn’t going to make a splash by signing a Cliff Lee or a Carl Crawford. That’s how we got into this mess in the first place. He was committed to making improvements to the team while still maintaining long-term payroll flexibility. How does one do that? Well, you use the Rule Five draft as well as the reclamation project approach. You can also call this the “Low Risk, High Reward Approach.”

The 2011 season is going to be about patience. Alderson understands the fans frustration, but he also understands the only way to fix this franchise is to have a plan and to be true to it. He can’t give in to the fans’ frustration and make a move that could possibly set this team back farther just to grab a couple of headlines and sell a few tickets. That is not what Alderson is about.

The Mets will have almost $60 million coming off the books at the end of 2011 heading into a star-studded free-agent class that will include the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. That being said, the Mets slogan for 2011 should be “Hang Tight.”

In terms of position players, the 2011 lineup will be very similar to the one we thought we were going to see in 2010. Carlos Beltran’s offseason knee surgery, Jose Reyes’ thyroid gland and Jason Bay’s post-concussion symptoms kept us from seeing it at full strength. In Alderson’s and new manager Terry Collins’ eyes, if this group is healthy, it is going to score a ton of runs. The major questions for this team are going to come from the mound.

Below is a position-by-position preview as we head into Spring Training. There may not be much turnover from 2010, but there will definitely be some very entertaining competitions and tough decisions for Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson to make as they trim down the roster before opening day.  

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