Welcome to the next part of Rising Apple’s 2013 MLB Season Preview. We’ve dedicated these last three weeks of March toward previewing all aspects of the Major Leagues. After previewing each of the six divisions throughout the American League and National League, we became Amazin’ly focused this week, with each writer predicting New York’s 25-man roster earlier this week. Today, we each predict what New York’s final record will be. To catch up with our preview series and to see what’s on tap for next week, take a look right here. Now, let’s get into some predictions, and the methods behind the madness…
Final Record: 82-80
I’m usually an optimist, and if you can’t be optimistic about your favorite team in March, then when will you ever?! The new regime has been in place for a few years now with regard to Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, and while this year shouldn’t exactly be judged on wins and losses (to keep Terry’s job, at least), I’d like to see a step forward in results as we look ahead to 2014. Breaking .500 will be huge for these young ballplayers as they continue to develop in such a deep division. I do think the Mets have improved as a team; the infield continues to be a strength, the rotation is better as an overall unit this year (especially if they stay healthy), and the bullpen should be a big improvement, which is where I believe New York will see the biggest difference when it comes to the win-loss column. The outfield is the biggest weakness, but it will end up being better than it was last season. That shouldn’t be all that hard to do, but would still help move the needle in the right direction. Let’s hope a winning atmosphere is cultivated in the clubhouse to help prepare the young guys for 2014 and beyond. Finishing .500 will help make that happen.
Final Record: 80-82
The Mets went 74-88 in 2012. Both fans and media types are predicting a similar or worse record for 2013 (some even going as far as to state that the Mets will lose 106 games). Frankly, that’s absurd. The reasons cited almost always include the trade of R.A. Dickey and the failure of the front office to significantly upgrade the outfield. People also point to the strength of the division.
The Nationals should be a force in the East and the Braves should also be quite formidable. However, for all the hoopla surrounding Atlanta’s acquisition of the Upton brothers, everyone is failing to mention that the Upton’s are making the Braves’ offense whole (Atlanta lost both Martin Prado and Chipper Jones), not adding to it. Lots of people see the Phillies contending. I’m not one of them. The Marlins are another story altogether.
The Mets may not overachieve in the first half in 2013 (like they did in 2012, by going 46-40). It’s highly likely, though, that they won’t completely tank the second half of 2013 (like they did in 2012, by going 28-48). The result will be a team that’s about average.
Yes, R.A. Dickey is gone and Johan Santana is already dealing with health issues. Still, the Mets have a very solid four in Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey (who will be in Queens for the whole year), Shaun Marcum, and Dillon Gee. Replacing Santana on a temporary basis is Jeremy Hefner. By June or July, one of the rotation spots should be taken by Zack Wheeler. If I were given the choice of Niese, Harvey, Marcum, Gee, and Wheeler, or the Mets’ 2012 rotation, I’d take the 2013 version.
The infield remains a strength. Behind the plate, Instead of Josh Thole for a full year, the Mets will be turning to Travis d’Arnaud in either late April or early May. The bullpen will be improved with the additions of Brandon Lyon and Scott Atchison, and a full year expected from Josh Edgin. High upside arm Jeurys Familia will either on the opening day roster, or waiting in the wings in AAA for a call-up.
Onto the outfield – what most view as a running joke without a punch-line. Yes, the Mets’ outfield in 2013 is unlikely to be a strength. Guess what? Neither was the 2012 outfield. Add it all up, and you get an 80-82 record. The Mets will be a squad that’s interesting, fun, and energetic. Like every team, there’s a chance they’ll surprise and make a magical run. I just don’t see that happening. Instead, 2013 will be a year of growth before the Mets shore up the roster further and legitimately contend in 2014.
Final Record: 78-84
The Mets were 74-88 last year, and I think they’ll be marginally better this year. To explain why I feel this way, l’ll look at the starting pitching, relief pitching, infield, outfield, and bench. I’ll evaluate if this year’s version is better than last year’s (+), the same as last year’s (0), or worse than last year’s (-).
Starting pitching (+): Last year, the Mets lost Mike Pelfrey in April, Dillon Gee in July, and Johan Santana in August. This year, they should have better luck than losing 60% of the starting rotation. While Johan Santana will start the year on the DL, the rotation of Jon Niese, Shaun Marcum, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, and Jeremy Hefner should be effective. WIth Zach Wheeler waiting in the wings, the starting rotation should be a strength for the club, and surpass the production of last year’s rotation.
Relief pitching (+): This year’s bullpen should be significantly better than the 2012 version. Last year’s relief pitching cost the Mets many games, and the team’s inability to add help during the season frustrated the fan base. Bobby Parnell will likely be more effective as a closer than Frank Francisco was, and Terry Collins will have 2 lefties to use as necessary (last year they struggled to have one). Josh Edgin is a pitcher to watch, and Pedro Feliciano will bring a second lefty with veteran experience. The right-handed, mid-game options will provide a blend of youth and experience, with Scott Atchison, LaTroy Hawkins, Greg Burke, and possibly Jeryus Familia.
Infield (0): The infield will be the same as last year’s, once everyone returns from the DL (assuming that’s where Murphy and Wright begin the year). I see Davis having a better year than he did in 2012, and making a run at 40 HRs. However, I think Ike’s increased production will be offset by a less-effective Tejada. I can see the league adjusting to Ruben, possibly by challenging him in the strike zone more often, leading to what could be a problem for the shortstop. Murphy should continue to be a silent producer and doubles machine. Wright, well, he’ll be Wright. And John Buck, in my opinion, is a significant upgrade over Thole/Nickeas.
Outfield (0): Andres Torres is gone, as is Jason Bay. However, the 2013 outfield of Marlon Byrd, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter, and Lucas Duda, and possibly Matt den Dekker, may not be much better. The outfield may struggle to produce runs, and may not be as good defensively as last year’s (Torres and Bay were good defenders). There is some hope that Byrd could revert to 2011 form, and Duda could hit 30 HRs. However, the odds of both of those happening are fairly low, hence the neutral rating.
Bench (-): This year’s bench may be a weak spot for the Mets. The combination of Hicks, Bixler, Turner, Recker, and Valdespin does not strike fear in the hearts of opponents. Valdespin could be the gem of the bench, and with that, he may get significant playing time, thereby further weakening the reserves. This would put Baxter, or possibly Byrd, on the bench. Early this off-season, I wrote that the Mets should not ignore the bench, and try to bring in some major-league talent (I was big on Emanuelle Burriss). It does not seem like that happened, so now the bench is a cause for concern.
So, with 2 positives, 2 neutrals, and one negative, how do the Mets win only four more games in 2013? The division is better. The Nationals were good, and now they’re even better. The Braves are better in my opinion, and I think the Phillies will have a better year (you can’t neglect that pitching). The Mets will play close to 60 games against these three teams, and that will be tough. So while the Mets may improve a little, the competition may improve at the same, or a slightly better rate.
Will DeBoer, Staff Writer:
Final Record: 79-83
Mets fans’ attention will linger on the team’s fifth straight losing season, but dig a little deeper and you can find a hint of optimism in a record that matches that of 2010′s. The Giants proved last year that great pitching is more of an asset than great hitting, and New York’s starting rotation, fronted by Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey, and due-up-this-summer Zack Wheeler, will be a promising bunch as long as they stay healthy (never a given with this bunch). The bullpen probably won’t be much better than it was last season, but Sandy Alderson is paying this batch of relievers less money, which will take some of the sting off.
The infield of David Wright, Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, and Ike Davis is the strongest part of the everyday lineup, and the young latter three will improve on productive 2012s, while Captain America Wright will continue bearing the torch for Team and Country. Travis d’Arnaud will likely make his big-league debut sometime before Memorial Day, but even half a season from him is bound to be better than the quadruple-girly-slap combo of Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas, Rob Johnson, and Kelly Shoppach. The same principle applies to the outfield: as unpromising as Collin Cowgill and Marlon Byrd sound, almost anything they do (or don’t do) will be an improvement over Jason Bay and Andres Torres. Long story short: strong foundations in the rotation and infield, plus slight improvement in the other areas, minus inevitable injuries, equals a five-game improvement in the W-L column for the New York Mets in 2013.