With everyone else making predictions for how the rest of the season will play out, I would like to focus more in the here and now. People often forget that the first three games of the season count as much as the last three games of the season. More importantly, the first week of games are a decent indicator for how the rest of the season will turn out…you just need to know what to look for.

How Aggressive is Jose Reyes on the Base Paths?

Last season, Jose Reyes was coming off of a hamstring injury, as well as a thyroid problem. Once he entered the lineup, he stayed relatively healthy and finished with 133 games. In that time, he stole 30 bases, which, compared to an average player, is a very good season. But at his best, Reyes is much more than an average player.

From 2005-2009, Reyes averaged 64.5 stolen bases per season. What made him an elite player was that once he got on base, he was able to score so often, without even the aid of a hit from his teammates. I believe in his last year of his current contract, he will try to be more aggressive to help himself put up stats and his team put up runs.

How Often Will Terry Collins Change the Lineup?

Terry Collins was firm in saying that he does not want to tinker with his lineup too often. He even named his first six spots in the order over a month ago. Unfortunately, the injury to Jason Bay has changed the dynamic of the order, especially when Willie Harris is patrolling left field. The Mets need more run production out of Angel Pagan than they were planning and Collins has moved him back to the fifth spot to account for that. As the season progresses, he might need to get more power out of the bottom of the order and make changes accordingly.

It will also be interesting to see how Collins adjusts his lineup to account for the opposing pitcher. Five of the Mets’ first six games are against right-handed pitchers. As much as the team wants to get a look at Brad Emaus in major league games, Daniel Murphy has a solid bat from the left side that can really help produce runs. Once Ronny Paulino returns to the bench, he might also receive extra looks against lefty pitchers.

Will Lucas Duda take advantage of Bay’s injury?

A year ago at this time, Lucas Duda was considered to low-level prospect that would probably never crack the majors. After crushing both AA and AAA pitching last season, he has established himself as the most major league-ready outfielder in the Mets system. With a few good weeks in the majors, he can prove that he belongs for good.

Even though the Mets have three established outfielders at the moment, all three have been injury-prone throughout their careers. An opportunity will certainly present itself for Duda during the course of the season. If not, there will be an opening in right field in 2012. If Duda can provide the offense necessary from a corner outfield position, he will certainly alleviate some roster concerns going into next season.

  Who will pitch in the seventh and eigth innings?

The fan choice for the setup role is undoubtedly Bobby Parnell. He is a young, home-grown player who throws in the upper 90’s. However, Taylor Buchholz had a great spring and has more experience pitching in the late innings. D.J. Carrasco will probably be saved for long outing scenarios and Tim Byrdak will be used exclusively as a lefty specialist. This leaves Blaine Boyer and Pedro Beato as the other contenders to bridge the gap from the starter to K-Rod. Each of the four contenders has shown promise, but it will take consistency from each for the Mets to make a run at the playoffs this season.

The season is not won or lost during the first week, but it is always good to see that your team is at least headed in the right direction.

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