In like a lion and out like a lamb! It’s one of the reasons why I love the month of March. However, the most obvious reason of course is the start of baseball. For me, no sport can compare to America’s greatest pastime, so NCAA Basketball and Hockey acquire very little of my attention this time of the year. I know we’ve only seen a modest glimpse of spring training games thus far, but I have already made my Opening Day roster decisions for the New York Mets. Some are given, while others may surprise you.

AP Photo Duda and Tejada reminiscent of their Binghamton Mets days

Since it is a 25-man roster, I’ve decided to break down this article into two parts. First, let’s examine which position players should make the cut. Let’s go around the diamond.

Catcher, Josh Thole: This one is a no-brainer. All he has done since joining the majors is show he can hit, not to mention his skills behind the plate continue to improve. Given that Terry Collins has so much confidence in him, and Ronny Paulino has literally just arrived in camp, there is no competition for the starting backstop.

2011 ST Stats: 26 ABs .423 2 HRs 6 RBIs

First Baseman, Ike Davis: Again, this is a lock. Ike Davis proved in his rookie season last year that he has what it takes to be a major league first baseman. Entering the 2011 season at only 24 years old, he has a terrific future ahead of him, and expects to boost his power numbers. And to think, he has Daniel Murphy to thank for all of his success.

2011 ST Stats: 20 ABs .350 2 HRs 6 RBIs

Second Baseman, Brad Emaus: Arguably the toughest decision of all for Terry Collins this Spring Training, but I think Emaus will come out with the job. It’s tough because none of the second basemen are loud with their numbers, but since he is a Rule V Draft Pick, if they decide not to retain him for the season, he goes right back to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Collins on Emaus from ESPN.com:

He’s got very good hands. I think he’s got good-enough footwork to play second base. I mean, he’s here because the people who scouted him say he can hit, and he can hit the ball out of the ballpark.”

I think that Collins prefers to have an explosive bat from the second base position, which is why ultimately Luis Castillo will lose out.

2011 ST Stats: 19 ABs .211 2 Rs

Shortstop, Jose Reyes: It was tough to choose between Reyes and Hu…just kidding. This is a huge year for Jose Reyes, ultimately deciding his fate with the New York Mets. Stay healthy, please.

2011 ST Stats: 18 ABs .167  2 Rs 1 SB

Third Baseman, David Wright: The fan favorite, right? Well, as long as he cuts the strikeouts and gains some more consistency this season. When it’s all said and done, Wright is the face of the franchise. End of discussion.

2011 ST Stats: 15 ABs .067  1 R 1 RBI 10 Ks

Left Fielder, Jason Bay: Time to show fans that 2010 was a fluke. Much like Wright overcame his CitiField woes, Bay will too.

2011 ST Stats: 21 ABs .333 2 Rs 1 RBI

Center Fielder, Angel Pagan: With the permission of Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan will earn the center field job coming out of spring. He had a career year last season, avoiding the DL for the first time ever. Looking to show the organization that he could repeat an All-Star caliber year.

2011 ST Stats: 23 ABs .304 1 HR 2 RBIs 6 Rs

Right Fielder, Willie Harris: I know what you’re thinking, and you’re wrong. Carlos Beltran will not be the Opening Day right fielder. It is just not in the cards for him. He has appeared in only one spring training game (as a DH!), so there is no way he will be ready in time to play the field. Willie Harris is a versatile player and has the most experience at the position compared to the other contenders. A terrific glove and speed works right into the new philosophy of the Mets organization. However, I am expecting about six different players to see time at this position during the season, including Carlos Beltran in due time.

2011 ST Stats: 24 ABs .292 1 HR 2 RBIs 5 Rs

Bench, Daniel Murphy: For multiple reasons, of course. His bat is major league compatible, and his ability to play three of the four infield positions is nothing to sneeze at. Since his footwork at second base is quite comical, he won’t get the starting job, but will find at least two starts a week to give starters a rest, either at second, first, third, or dare I say it left field. Here’s a little nugget for you to chew on. In 41 at-bats as a pinch hitter, Murphy has a .317 batting average, with 2 HRs and 12 RBIs.

2011 ST Stats: 29 ABs .276 4 2Bs 6 RBIs

Bench, Scott Hairston: He will get the occasional start when facing a southpaw. Angel Pagan will move over to right field and Hairston will fill in center field. Main reason being he has only played 29 innings in right field.

2011 ST Stats: 23 ABs .348 3 2Bs 4 BBs

Bench, Chin-Lung Hu: The only player who could fill in for Jose Reyes when needed that wouldn’t make a complete fool of himself. He has hit well in the spring and has shown tremendous ability at the position. Could pinch-run late in the game with the type of speed he provides.

2011 ST Stats: 21 ABs .286 2 2Bs 4 BBs

Bench, Ronny Paulino: He just made it to camp, but has plenty of time to win the backup catcher job. There is really no competition for him. I mean, c’mon Dusty Ryan, Mike Nickeas???

2011 ST Stats: Not Applicable

Bench, Carlos Beltran: Frankly, I am only putting him on here because I am unsure if he will start the season on the DL. They may decide to use him as a switch-hitter off the bench at first. I can’t imagine any other left-handed hitters to share time with Daniel Murphy on the bench. (Lucas Duda will probably start the season at Triple-A Buffalo so he could play every day and possibly earn a mid-season call up.) Only a matter of time before that knee gives in completely…

2011 ST Stats: 3 ABs 1 H

Look out for Part 2 of “Who Makes The Cut?” in the near future.

Who would you slot in as the everyday second baseman? Is Carlos Beltran a lock as starting right fielder? Voice your opinion!