Your 2008 New York Mets' potential/likely Opening Day roster:
Brian Schneider, Ramon Castro.
Carlos Delgado, Luis Castillo, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Ruben Gotay.
• Gotay's switch-hitting and youth give him a leg up on Jose Valentin for utility infield purposes.
Moises Alou, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Church, Endy Chavez, Marlon Anderson, Damion Easley.
• Anderson and Easley are versatile enough to play first and second. Because they can do that and pinch-hit, Brooklyn's Own Angel Pagan probably starts the season in New Orleans or goes elsewhere.
STARTING PITCHERS (5)
Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Orlando Hernandez.
• If El Duque is healthy, it's unlikely Mike Pelfrey gets a foot in the door before El Duque is certifiably unhealthy.
RELIEF PITCHERS (7)
Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Schoeneweis, Jorge Sosa, Matt Wise.
• Wise has a partially guaranteed contract that gives him $750,000 whether he makes it or not. If he doesn't, the other options are Steven Register, Brian Stokes, Ruddy Lugo and maybe Joe Smith. Under better circumstances, Ambiorix Burgos might be, too, but his bejeweled right arm isn't ready.
So, if I've got this straight…
…putting aside stretching and golf…
…taking into account rehabilitation from injuries…
…making a schedule-oriented strategic decision that foregoes the fifth starter until the middle of April…
…and understanding the dangers implicit in solemnly trusting the best-laid plans of Minaya and men…
…we're basically holding Spring Training as a precaution against Matt Wise pitching himself off the team.
Just checking — and by no means complaining. Having witnessed enough camps whose overriding purpose was inventing roles for Mike Bruhert and Mardie “The Chief” Cornejo, I'm not about to underrate the general appeal of roster stability. Still, suspense does seem on the verge of taking a spring break if all we're waiting for is to discover whether the back end of our relief corps is Wise or unWise. Then again, the Mets have a way of making their own drama just when you're settling in for the utterly prosaic.