A noun or conjunction: an uncertain possibility, a supposition, in case that, granting or supposing that.

The word “if” will hold much significance for the 2011 New York Mets.

Let’s start with the positives.

If Chris Young returns to his mid-2000’s form and if R.A. Dickey pitches similarly to last year, the Mets will not be severely affected by the loss of Johan Santana.

If Jason Bay remembers how to hit, the Mets will have a consistent run producer in the middle of the order.

If Jose Reyes remains focused on baseball, the Mets will have the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game setting the table.

If Carlos Beltran stays healthy and plays to his potential, David Wright will receive plenty of protection in the batting order.

If K-Rod puts his demons behind him, the Mets will have a shut-down closer available in tight games.

If the Mets rid themselves of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, two younger players with more upside will be able to contribute to the roster.

If the second base situation is figured out early in spring training, that player can gain the confidence and experience needed to produce every day.

If Ike Davis and Josh Thole continue to develop, the Mets will have a strong batting order throughout.

If the Mets can get off to a hot start, the Madoff scandal may be moved to the back burner—slightly.

If Terry Collins establishes himself as a leader, the Mets will respond with good hustle and plenty of heart on the field.

The problem with the word “if” is that there could be a negative side to plausible outcomes. Here’s what could happen is the above statements turn bad.

If Chris Young struggles coming off his injury and if R.A. Dickey proves last year was an anomaly, the Mets will have plenty of holes in their starting staff, especially without Johan Santana.

If Jason Bay continues his lack of production, the Mets will once again lack a consistent middle of the order threat.

If Jose Reyes loses focus, his abilities would be wasted.

If Carlos Beltran struggles offensively, David Wright would not see as many pitches to hit.

If K-Rod lets his demons haunt him, the ninth inning will be a wild adventure.

If the Mets decide to stick with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, they would be wasting roster spots on guys who have lost their ability to produce.

If the Mets drag out the second base competition, the winner won’t be able to settle into the role and just go out there and play.

If Ike Davis and Josh Thole regress, the Mets will have a weak bottom half of the order and rely too much on the top for runs.

If the Mets get off to a poor start, all we will hear about is the Madoff scandal and how it has affected the Mets.

If Terry Collins does not establish himself as the new order in Mets baseball, he will lose control of the team just like Jerry Manuel did.

So, there you have it.

If things go right, the Mets may be the surprise team in the NL. However, if things go poorly, the Mets may find themselves in the cellar of the NL East.

I know it may sound basic, but it pretty much is. The team has some pieces that can make them a competitive team, but the success of the team will hinge upon if everything clicks at the same time.

Here’s to wishful thinking on the positive side of “if.”

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

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