Final Record: 75-87
Yes, Alderson acquired some nice prospects from sending R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays. Those players were brought in to shape the near future of the Mets, not the immediate future. Dickey’s presence will be greatly missed, and while the pitching staff should remain as the team’s core strength, durability and health questions surround Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum. Wheeler should be in the Bigs by mid-season, but one must not forget the experience and development young players require to reach their full potential. If brought up too soon and if too much is being asked of him, that can be detrimental to his development. The Mets were a 74-win team last year, and that was with a 20-game winner anchoring the rotation. While I do think this team can offset the value missing from Dickey’s presence, the current outfield situation remains to be a mysterious puzzle, along with a bullpen trying to bounce back from a poor 2012 performance. 2013 is without a question a transitional year, in which you can look forward to seeing young players like Tejada, Harvey, and Wheeler further develop into major pieces to surround captain David Wright around. However, you never know what can happen, which is why you play the game.
Final Record: 80-82
Last season, the Mets joyous first half was highlighted by strong starting pitching, timely hitting, and by having Frank Francisco on the mound. In truth, the Mets swoon first started with Francisco’s injury. Overall, the Mets had the third fewest save opportunities in the N.L. last season, blowing an astonishing nineteen saves in just fifty-six chances. By the time the second half of the season started, the Mets were down to two of the five starting pitchers they began the season with. Offensively, no one expected David Wright to hit above .400 forever. Outside of Ike Davis’ second half surge, no one anticipated allthe Mets timely hitting would go poof.
Pitching wise, the Mets appear poised to overcome circumstances involving Johan Santana and Frank Francisco. Entering 2013, many fans, including myself, have invested a great deal of confidence in Jon Niese’s ability to lead a burgeoning young staff. His rotation buddy, Dillon Gee, appears to have fully recovered from surgery. As young veterans now, they are charged with minding the even younger bulldog, Matt Harvey. Flushing is buzzing with anticipation over Harvey’s first full season in the majors. He will be free of restrictions – no (leash) pitch count. Whatever Shaun Marcum and Johan Santana add, can only help. This is an overall good situation. Starting pitching is clearly the Mets strength. On paper, the newest version of Sandy Alderson’s bullpen seems a little deeper, and dare I say a little more capable, than last year’s crew. My hope is Bobby Parnell starts the regular season as the closer, and seizes the moment. This is now his job to lose.
As it pertains to positional players, the Mets may not be so well off. Topping the list of my concerns is Daniel Murphy. He has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game. The Mets originally hoped Murph would only miss seven to ten days with a strained intercostal condition. That was thirty-one days ago. With less than two weeks to go before Opening Day, his level of preparedness is now heavily compromised. Let’s hope David Wright’s rib strain sustained during the WBC doesn’t follow a similar course. That would make it even harder to ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room – The Mets have no outfield to speak of. Then after taking away their top starter, closer, the hot corner, and their second basemen, I’d normally say the team was in big trouble – and so starts another season of Mets baseball. However, once Travis d’Arnaud is called up, and with Murph and Wright healthy, the Mets will start buffing an infield diamond to match the luster of any in the league. Throw solid pitching into the mix, and I think the Mets can be a major pain in the division’s collective posterior.
I see good times and bad times ahead. The Phils will not play as badly as last season. The Braves are greatly improved. Washington looks poised to capture another division title. With a crazy schedule affecting all MLB teams this season, the Mets may enjoy a measure of success outside the division.
Final Record: 85-75
Seriously, you guys. I know it’s rather optimistic, especially with Johan up in the air, but the roster’s overall talent is better, I have even more faith with this bullpen going into this year than last (even with all those moves Sandy made.) The lineup will do a MUCH better job keeping pitchers modest from 1 through 9. Though the rest of the division has improved, the core will click a year earlier than people are expecting. 85 wins will probably not even get them the 2nd wild card, but Met fans will see a seriously good team start to form. Even if they don’t hit the 85-win mark I am predicting (and let me disclaim that, personally, I’m slightly at odds with the whole predicting thing) I truly believe this team could be over .500. And even 82 wins would be refreshing, right?! (or even 80 wins…)
Final Record: 78-84
It’s difficult, one could argue, to look at 2013 and not see the bountiful potential that lies with 2014. A rotation anchored by Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Dillon Gee represents a foundation around which a team could contend. Similarly, the infield represents a strong offensive core, questions surrounding the bullpen have been addressed (if not yet solved), and the outfield experiment this season can yield significant benefits.
That said, there’s still 2013 to worry about, and not all is bleak. The loss of Cy Young winner and fan favorite R.A. Dickey has been a tough pill to swallow, but the rotation could end up better this season with a little health and a little luck. Ike Davis’ slow start to 2012 led to unbridled optimism after Davis spent the final 2/3 of the season as one of the game’s most dominant sluggers. Daniel Murphy acclimated himself to second base better than many had predicted, and carries with him the ability to be one of the game’s better hitters at the keystone. Ruben Tejada played capably in replacement of the departed Jose Reyes, and as the game’s second-youngest shortstop (third-youngest if Andrelton Simmons breaks camp with Atlanta) still has plenty of room to develop. David Wright, of course, needs no introduction.
The outfield, labeled a mess by most, could nonetheless yield positive results. Lucas Duda has shifted to a more comfortable position in left field, and is likely to be joined by a pair of platoons – Jordany Valdespin and Collin Cowgill in center, and Marlon Byrd and Mike Baxter in right. None of the five are known qualities, but potential exists for the unit to outperform the 2012 edition that hit .237/.312/.393 and amassed only 4.1 fWAR. GM Sandy Alderson hopes his platoon outfielders can produce collectively, but considering that 2012 Opening Day outfielders Jason Bay and Andres Torres combined to post a .621 OPS in 649 plate appearances last season, the bar certainly hasn’t been set very high.
The amount of unknowns on this Mets roster suggest inevitable failure to some, but it’s not always the case. As Ted Berg has put it, just because a player hasn’t played in the major leagues doesn’t mean he can’t. If everything breaks right for the 2013 Mets, they could be this year’s Baltimore Orioles (or Oakland A’s, if that’s your flavor). If nothing does, they could end up losing 90 games. I think they’ll end up somewhere in the middle, falling within a few games of .500 in either direction.