Are the Mets really relying this heavily on R.A. Dickey this upcoming season? The Mets signed Dickey to a two-year deal worth about $7.5 million this offseason following his surprising 2010 season where he posted an 11-9 record with 2.84 ERA, 5.4 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. I’m finding last year just a bit too good to be true.

Dickey’s best ERA prior to 2010 was 2009 with a 4.62 and his six seasons before that, he didn’t have an ERA below 5. Not to mention he didn’t pitch in the Majors at all in 2007. Dickey is 36 years old, had one good season suddenly but I think it’s foolish for the Mets to move forward with him as their No. 2 starter this spring. Yes, Dickey’s a knuckleballer so he could be a workhorse like Tim Wakefield, but not every player to ever throw a knuckleball finds consistent success with it. But the Mets have serious problems if they plan on Dickey being their second arm in the rotation and he struggles to find last year’s success.

Johan Santana, who is making over $20 million a year, is out until most likely at least June. That leaves Mike Pelfrey as your ace for the beginning of the year. While Pelfrey is almost 10 years younger than Dickey, he’s not exactly the model of success either. He had a nice 2010 campaign (15-9, 3.66), but he also had a good 2008 season and followed it up with a step back in 2009 (10-12, 5.03). Does he regress again this year? The Mets can’t afford that at all. They desperately need him to step up and be that starter they can rely on to stop losing streaks if need be.

After Pelfrey and Dickey, you have patchwork that includes the likes of Jonathan Niese, Chris Capuano, Dillon Gee and Chris Young. Gee has five ML games under his belt, Niese just put in his first full season in the bigs, Capuano was a mediocre pitcher at best with the Brewers and Young has appeared in four games in the past year and has more injuries than the entire Mets team suffered last year. Definitely some cause for concern, huh?

Out of this group, Niese holds the most potential by far but there’s no guarantee that he’s going to roll out there and produce behind Pelfrey and Dickey. Plus, even when Santana returns in June or July, what can the Mets expect of him after coming off shoulder surgery last September? It may take him the rest of the summer to shake off the rust and get back into his old form.

It’s going to be another long season for the Mets, one that they may not be able to blame on injuries this time. Even if Dickey meets the lowest bar of expectations for him, the rest of the rotation will need to exceed them for the Mets to put together anything close to a winning season. There’s just too many “if’s” with Dickey and the rotation for me to be confident for the Mets chances in 2011.

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