As our 2014 Mets season preview continues, we move on to who we think is the player most likely to disappoint…
Danny Abriano, Editor –
Eric Young, Jr.: If I was convinced the Mets were prepared to utilize Young, Jr. as nothing more than a fourth outfielder, he wouldn’t be listed in this space. However, Terry Collins‘ infatuation with Young will likely mean that Young, Jr. will start too many games and wind up getting overexposed – despite the fact that Sandy Alderson holds sway over who gets the bulk of the playing time.
After being acquired from Colorado last year, Young provided a bit of a spark for the Mets with his speed. However, his on base percentage (.310 in 2013), lack of power, and sub-par defense should render him a bench piece.
If the Mets start Juan Lagares every day in center field and utilize Young properly, he can be an asset. However, I fear that he’ll be given far too many opportunities to start – leading to poor overall productivity and in turn to disappointment.
Mike Lecolant, Staff Writer -
Jonathon Niese: When deciding on a player most likely to disappoint, it is difficult not selecting a pitcher. In recent years, Mets hurlers seem to have been particularly fragile – such as Matt Harvey. Fans experienced high anxiety again when Jon Niese exited his second Grapefruit League start with elbow discomfort, and was sent to New York for another MRI. To the relief of all, the results were negative.
After earning the honor of starting Opening Day last season, Jon Niese did not follow up a breakout 2012 campaign the way many had hoped. In 2012, he established career highs with a 13-9 record and a .591 winning percentage, a 3.40 ERA, in 190.1 innings pitched. He also set career bests with a 1.17 WHIP, an 8.2 H/9, a 2.3 BB/9, and his 7.3 K/9 was still on par with his average.
Last year, in Jon Niese’s fourth season as a full time starter, he posted his fewest starts, fewest innings pitched, and fewest wins. His ERA, WHIP, H/9, and W/9 were all up. His K/9 average was down.
The recent series of negative MRI’s do not override my sensibilities. So, I ask, how healthy is Jon Niese really?
Last June, he missed a start due to tendinitis. Later in the month, he felt pain in his left shoulder, and was placed on disabled list the next day. He was diagnosed with a partially torn rotator cuff, and was prescribed rest and therapy. So far, this year’s spring training speaks for itself.
Niese was expected to help fill the void after Johan Santana went down. In fact, fellow staff writer Dan Haefeli and I wrote articles this time last year championing his merits. If last year was a step backwards for Jon Niese, this year may provide the real disappointment.
Sam Maxwell, Staff Writer -
Bartolo Colon: Though I’m fan of the signing, I could totally see Bartolo doing what so many free agents do when they come to the Mets: fizzle. Who knows what it is exactly, but factor in that we are expecting ace numbers from a 41 year old, it might be finally time for time to catch up. I hope I’m wrong, and that he is at least adequate, but that’s my pick.
Will DeBoer, Staff Writer -
Travis d’Arnaud: This title could go to any number of Mets, including Syndergaard and Montero (too high of expectations) or Ruben Tejada (if there were any expectations of him in the first place). Instead, this year it will be the piece everyone thought the R.A. Dickey deal was worth executing for when it first went down. Travis d’Arnaud was pegged as one of the top catching prospects in years; if he wasn’t the next Mike Piazza, he was certainly more than Todd Pratt.
Unfortunately, d’Arnaud will be much closer to Pratt than Piazza in 2014. Maybe it’s the great New York expectations, maybe it’s his wrap problem, maybe it’s his less-than-healthy minor-league development, or maybe it’s a combination of the three. Whatever it is, d’Arnaud will fall short at the plate, emulating last year’s post-April John Buck or, even worse, Josh Thole. Granted, d’Arnaud’s defense is already more than Thole could ever provide, but we didn’t trade the franchise’s third Cy Young laureate for a defensive minded catcher. In a year when many Mets could fall short of expectations, look for d’Arnaud to fall the hardest.
Dan Haefeli, Staff Writer -
Whoever plays Shortstop: I’d be surprised, perhaps, if Ruben Tejada weren’t in the minds of many when it comes to a list of potential disappointments, and it’s somewhat justified after a 2013 where everything – both under and beyond his control – went wrong for him. The fanbase is clamoring for a new body in the spot, and it’s always possible that Sandy Alderson could make a move (even as I type this out) and build excitement anew between David Wright and Daniel Murphy on the diamond.
Of course, there are reasons for Alderson’s apprehension. Drew’s contract demands, upon which agent Scott Boras refuses to budge, remain a deterrent. Drew, 31, has a nontrivial injury history and is coming off a likely unsustainable career season in Boston. Seattle’s Nick Franklin, recently available thanks to Robinson Cano‘s megadeal, comes with holes in his swing and questions about his long-term viability at short. Didi Gregorius is the less desirable of Arizona’s prospects, and has questions about his bat (that aren’t being helped by a subpar spring).
Whatever happens with shortstop, the assessment comes with cost in mind. With Rafael Montero commonly mentioned in trade talks, there’s a decent chance that some fans will be disappointed with an All-Star, because of Montero’s prospects. With Drew, fans would be happy to see dollars added to payroll, but his acquisition does little to help long term.
Even if Alderson does nothing, and Tejada rebounds this year, some will be disappointed here most only because of the inaction by the front office. Between all the issues currently surrounding the position, and the potential costs of improvement, I think it’ll be difficult for Mets fans to look back on this season and be satisfied at the shortstop production.
Rich Sparago, Staff Writer -
Bartolo Colon: When Sandy Alderson signed Bartolo Colon in December for 2 years and $20 million, he was making a bet. He made that bet with Father Time. The problem is, when it comes to such wagers, Father Time is undefeated. Certainly Colon had a stellar 2013, posting an 18-6 record with a 2.65 ERA. However, Colon will turn 41 this year, and the odds are that if the productivity is going to go in any in any direction, it will go down.
There are many reasons why I think this will happen. First, over his 16-year career, Colon has logged 2,583.2 innings. As Nolan Ryan has said, the human arm has a finite number of innings in it. What number that is for Colon is anyone’s guess. But he’s closer to that number going into 2014 than he was going into 2013. Second, Colon does not help himself with his physical condition. When Ryan was pitching effectively into his 40s, he was in impeccable shape. Colon is not. This could expedite his decline in productivity. Third, Colon will be pitching in the National League, where he has spent only 1 of his 16 seasons. His unfamiliarity with the hitters, and having to bat and run the bases, may work against him.
Perhaps the biggest reason Colon will disappoint is from a value perspective. The Mets feel that they’ve signed a front-of-the-rotation starter for $10 million per year (which would be a value). If Colon were to finish with a 4.50 ERA, the Mets will be left to wonder how that $10 million per year could have been otherwise invested. If it were my choice, I would have given the younger pitchers a shot (Jenrry Mejia/Rafael Montero), and invested the $10 million in a shortstop. I guess we’ll see how the Colon situation plays out.
Andrew Battifarano, Staff Writer -
Jonathon Niese: Going into 2014, there are some obvious players who are choices to disappoint. Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda all come to mind as those who could easily struggle this year, or may end up on the bench, the minors, or another team by season’s end.
While those are easy guys to pick on, I want to go in a different direction. Jonathon Niese is a great pitcher, but I get this gut feeling he won’t be able to put it all together.
I am a fan of the Mets’ only starting left-handed pitcher, but his injury issues continue to be a problem. Last year I expected him to continue to be the workhorse he became in 2012 when he went 190 innings, but he instead battled injuries and did not reach 150-inning mark.
So far through spring training, he’s again been going through arm injuries while not looking so sharp in his few starts in Florida. I was down in Jupiter for a game he threw against the Cardinals. Though it was one of his first times back on the hill, he was hit hard by the Red Birds and definitely lacked some velocity.
I would love to see Niese do well this year, especially as an innings eater to help out the young pitchers that are likely to come up this summer. I just have this sense that the injuries will get the best of him, and he won’t throw as well as he can.
Shannon Finkel, Staff Writer -
Young, a line-drive hitter, had previously told reporters that he didn’t think Citi Field’s dimensions would affect his production. However, we have seen the spacious ballpark cause problems for many power hitters. On top of this, he has been on a decline for the past few seasons, coming off a career-low line of .200/.280/.379 in 2013.
This upcoming season, according to FanGraphs, Young is projected to hit .232/.312/.418 with 16 home runs and 54 RBI — numbers that aren’t exactly eye-popping — and as a free-swinger, his strikeout rate is expected to be at 22.8%.
The Mets have a history of signing low risk, potentially high reward players in recent years, like Scott Hairston and Marlon Byrd — but I don’t foresee Young ending up in the same category. Overall, I think he will provide the Mets with some pop and excellent defense, but his strikeouts and inability to get on base will cause him to lose his starting job by mid-summer.
Cassandra Negley, Staff Writer -
Ruben Tejada: It’s hard to pick a Met most likely to disappoint. I’m not looking for much out of this team this season, but I’d like to be optimistic players will at least play to their averages. Playing to your average ability is not a “bust” situation.”
However, I’m choosing Ruben Tejada. His spring has been abysmal and most fans are fed up with him. He unfortunately was pushed into the role of “The shortstop to follow Jose Reyes” and that’s surely part of the problem.
Either way, Tejada doesn’t have a strong bat and I personally don’t feel his offense is anything to be happy with. I dislike the fact he didn’t show up to spring training early with other position players and for all these reason, I’ll stick with him as my most likely to disappoint – if it’s possible for him to disappoint Mets fans any further.