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MLB New York Mets

5 Questions The New York Mets Must Answer During Spring Training

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5 Questions The New York Mets Must Answer During Spring Training

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Images

It is no secret that the New York Mets have been in a grueling rebuild over the course of the last four seasons, floundering near or in last place while dealing with crippling financial issues stemming from the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme scandal.

Finally, they received some payroll flexibility this offseason after the debilitating contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana expired, giving them the opportunity to sign players like Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon to respectable deals. While the moves are not overwhelming, they are signs of improvement and with the emergence of some young talent on the roster, the Mets should start to approach or exceed .500 ball.

That being said, there are some crucial questions that still have yet to have been answered this offseason, and it looks like they will have to play out in Spring Training. Ideally, an organization would prefer to have a better idea of how their team is formed than the Mets do currently, and if these issues are not answered appropriately, it will likely sink an otherwise promising 2014 campaign.

Many are still painting a bleak picture when analyzing the Mets' chances; however, I must disagree. The NL East is far from a juggernaut as currently constituted. The Atlanta Braves look to have taken a step backwards, and the Washington Nationals have not been able to live up to the hype surrounding them over the course of the last two seasons. The Philadelphia Phillies are struggling to build a team due to aging or injured stars hindering their payroll, and the Miami Marlins have some good young players, but are not quite ready to win yet. So, why not the Mets?

If the following five questions are answered adequately, there is no reason why the Mets cannot compete for the division or the second Wild Card, even without their ace Matt Harvey.

Timothy Downs is a Fantasy Sports writer at Follow him on Twitter @tidow1212.

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5. Where Does Bartolo Colon Belong In Rotation?

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Whether Bartolo Colon has found the fountain of youth or if he is doing something shady is up for debate, but he is winning games, and that is what the Mets signed him to do. He needs to perform as the Mets' no. 2 starter, and that is where he belongs However, only Colon himself will decide where he ends up in Spring Training.

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4. Who Will Bat Leadoff?

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The Mets have not had a prototypical leadoff hitter since Jose Reyes. If they want to return to relevancy, they must find one. The only legitimate option I see is Eric Young Jr. The only problem is that the team will find it hard to fit him in everyday if they also plan to play the newly-acquired Chris Young. Since they did not trade Daniel Murphy to make room for him, they will have to do some juggling to fit him in, as Young Jr.'s base-stealing prowess is impossible to ignore.

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3. Who Is The Starting First Baseman?

First Base
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Possibly the most intriguing positional battle for the Mets in Spring Training is the one at first base between Lucas Duda and Ike Davis. While it has been a shame to see the once promising career of Davis go the way it did in 2013, Duda is not the long-term answer. Expect Davis to start the season at first, but if he is unable to produce, you will see Duda get the chance for the rest of the season, barring a trade.

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2. Can Juan Lagares Hit Enough To Play Everyday?

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While centerfielders do not always have to overwhelm offensively, Lagares' offense must improve in order for him to cement a full-time career as a starter with the Mets. Fortunately, he was awarded the Dominican League's Rookie Of The Year award in winter ball. In 144 at-bats, he batted .342 with one HR and 16 RBIs. If this form continues in Spring Training, Lagares should show that he can hit enough to play everyday.

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1. Who Is Their Starting Shortstop?

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It is no secret that the Mets have coveted Stephen Drew all offseason, but have been reluctant to offer more than a club-friendly, two-year deal. They must bite the bullet and sign Drew either before or during Spring Training if he is still available; if they do not, they will struggle to find offense from Ruben Tejada all season long and live to regret it.