Big League Stew - MLB

Every day in spring training until we finish the entire league, Big League Stew takes a brief capsule look at each team we visit in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. Next stop is Port St. Lucie, where the Mets' dysfunction runs from the top down.

NEW YORK METS

2010 RECORD: 79-83, fourth in NL East.

BIGGEST ACQUISITIONS: Two cool Chrises: Chris Young, the 6-10 right-hander, and Chris Capuano(notes), a lefty who had been with the Brewers, are reclamation projects with good upsides. With ace Johan Santana(notes) out for who knows how long, their contribution becomes urgently important.

BIGGEST DEPARTURES: Left-hander Pedro Feliciano(notes), who says everyone dreams of playing for the New York Yankees, is now realizing his dreams. He was used 92 times in 2010. Hisanori Takahashi(notes), who pitched 122 innings as a swingman, also left via free agency.

FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE METS

1. Is the franchise paralyzed because of the Madoff mess? Obviously so in one respect: The Mets got hit in free agency, and didn't really hit back with big dollars. Until the Wilpons' responsibilities are resolved (they're being sued for more than $1 billion) general manager Sandy Alderson has at least one hand tied behind his back. He's the perfect guy to take the Mets from mediocre to championship caliber, but leadership comes from the top down, and Fred Wilpon (shown above) is a little distracted right now.

2. Will Carlos Beltran's(notes) knees prevent him from being great, or even from playing?

Because of his gimpy right knee, Beltran managed to play in only 145 games combined the past two years. He's also getting older, 34, so the Mets are moving him to right field — which OK, because Angel Pagan(notes) covers a lot of ground in center. But now Beltran is having trouble with his left knee and the gimpy one isn't all of the way back.

3. When does Santana get back? A recent report has him missing the entire season, a notion refuted by the Mets and Santana himself. But it's possible the report simply isn't true yet. The Mets outlook for 2011 is completely different if Santana and Beltran are healthy.

4. Is Oliver Perez(notes) still here? The Mets need (or think they need) a lefty specialist out of the bullpen. Perez, with his location issues and other issues would seem an awful candidate for the spot. But it's all that's left for Perez. Management is ready to eat his — gulp — $12 million.

5. Jeez, what isn't dysfunctional on this team? New manager Terry Collins has some great pieces with which to work, such as David Wright(notes), Jose Reyes(notes), a healthy Jason Bay(notes), Ike Davis(notes), Mike Pelfrey(notes) and R.A. Dickey(notes). The Mets ought to finish above .500 (maybe 85 wins?) if the news turns out to be good on Santana and Beltran. Of course, they could spiral the other way, too. What's more important: Settling the Wilpons' debts. As long as they hang over the organization, the Mets will never be as good as they could be.

Follow Dave throughout spring training on Twitter — @AnswerDave — and check out the Stew on Facebook for more coverage.

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