In 2013, there were 19 teams who finished with a better record than the Mets. In 2014, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports is betting that 26 teams will finish with a better record than the Mets. On its face, that makes close to zero sense. So, why is Passan so down on the Mets, and why do I disagree with his assertions?
The Mets should not have to slum it with a 40-year-old starter whose BMI is infinity. They could do better than an underachieving outfielder on a make-good contract, especially with next year’s class of free agent outfielders dreadfully thin. These are the Mets, of course. Could and should long ago escaped the lexicon.
I find it laughable that signing Bartolo Colon, who had a 2.65 ERA and 1.16 WHIP for Oaklnad last year, is being referred to as “slumming it.”
Yes, Colon is old. Yes, Colon is out of shape. No, I don’t give a damn about either of those things. What matters is health and production, neither of which has been an issue for Colon recently.
The Chris Young signing isn’t a slam dunk at all, but a one year deal for an athletic outfielder with speed and power who’s due for a major BABIP improvement is decidedly low risk.
He thinks the loss of Matt Harvey is something the Mets can’t overcome:
Losing Harvey was not a loss. It was a nuclear bomb on 2014.
Losing Harvey, who became one of the best pitchers in all of baseball last season, is a huge hit. That can’t be argued.
What certainly can be argued, is the claim that the loss of Harvey was a “nuclear bomb on 2014.”
While Harvey was twirling masterpieces early in 2013, Jonathon Niese was pitching (badly) through an injury, Dillon Gee pitched so poorly that he almost lost his rotation spot, Shaun Marcum was getting battered, and the Mets were dealing with a serious depth issue.
Niese and Gee rebounded, and Zack Wheeler came up in June to provide a jolt to the rotation before Harvey got hurt with about a month to go.
While no one pitcher can “replace” Harvey, the Mets’ rotation in 2014 could be even better as a whole than it was in 2013. There’s also more depth.
The starting five out of spring training will likely be Jonathon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee, and Jenrry Mejia. In the minors, the club has Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom who are just about ready, and Noah Syndergaard, who should be up in mid-June.
It’s easy to claim the Mets’ rotation will struggle without Harvey, but that doesn’t make it so.
He doesn’t believe in the bullpen:
The bullpen should be an adventure, with Bobby Parnell coming off neck surgery and the rest of the bullpen a mish-mash of mediocrity (c’mon down, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen, Vic Black, Scott Rice!). Maybe they’ll get something from Jenrry Mejia, whose fastball lost 2 mph since his Tommy John. Perhaps Carlos Torres, maestro of the cutter, can fashion himself into a serviceable piece again.
As far as Parnell goes, he’s already been cleared for full baseball activities. Things could always go wrong with him (as they can with any pitcher), but it appears he’ll be fine.
Forget the fact that Jenrry Mejia is a starting pitcher, Passan lumps him in with the bullpen arms and notes that Mejia lost 2 MPH on his fastball in 2013. However, he fails to note that Mejia pitched all of last season with bone chips in his pitching elbow. One would think that had a negative impact on his velocity. Passan also failed to note that Mejia was brilliant during his brief stint in the rotation in 2013.
Getting back to the likely members of the pen, it’s easy to claim pitchers are mediocre with nothing to back it up.
How about looking at some numbers?
Last season, Parnell, Black, Familia, Edgin, Rice, and Germen combined to put up a 3.31 FIP (fielding independent pitching).
They’re not household names or completely established, so I guess it’s easier to label them mediocre than give them their due while taking their upside into account.
When I look at the likely opening day bullpen, I see a very good closer (Parnell), two young, power arms who have late inning potential (Black and Familia), two solid lefties (Rice and Edgin), another live arm (Germen), and a solid swingman (Torres).
…I suppose it’s easier to make jokes while bashing the Mets than it is to write something analytical about them.
I’m not saying the Mets will be tremendous in 2014, but I’m all but certain they won’t be one of the worst teams in baseball (as Passan claims). More likely, they’ll finish somewhere in the middle of the pack. If a few things go their way, they could flirt with a playoff spot.
Bartolo Colon is fat and old, though, so #LOLMets.