Expected to punt, Mets are going for it in 2014


On August 27, the expectations for the Mets were shattered at the news of Matt Harvey‘s partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament. Though Harvey’s future was uncertain, and he opted to rehab the injury instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would end up under the knife and out for 2014, if for no other reason than “it’s the Mets, and these things happen to the Mets.”

With that, somewhat unsurprisingly, went the optimism for 2014 – the year targeted by Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons for a return to relevance. Multiple sources have been touting that the Mets would use Harvey’s injury, if not something else, as an excuse to not spend this off-season. The $40+ million dollars allocated to Johan Santana and Jason Bay – both contracts finally coming off the books this year – shouldn’t be expected to be re-invested in the major league team. An offseason budget of $30-$40M dwindled to $25-30M to $20-$25, and we were told that the Mets would be out on any significant free agents.

Turns out that wouldn’t be the case.

Dec 10, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Curtis Granderson smiles as he is introduced by the New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon (left) and general manager Sandy Alderson (right) during the MLB Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

On November 22nd, they agreed to a 1-year, $7.25M agreement with former Arizona and Oakland outfielder Chris Young. The relatively low-risk, potentially high-reward agreement received mixed reviews. The consensus was that it was a good secondary move. Of course, the narrative quickly turned to “that’s it. 25% of the Mets’ budget has been spent on hopes of a bounceback, and we shouldn’t expect any other big deals.

Turns out that wouldn’t be the case.

Last Friday (December 6th), Sandy Alderson inked his largest free agent deal as the Met’s GM, signing former Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson to a four year, $60M contract. Granderson, who missed significant time in 2013 with a broken wrist, nonetheless has the tenth-most home runs in baseball from 2011-2013 (91), and is expected to provide the power bat the Mets haven’t had behind David Wright between Ike Davis‘ struggles and Jason Bay being Jason Bay.

Once again, we were told that there wouldn’t be any more big deals. The Mets fixed their outfield, but the rotation and shortstop would have to be patched through trades and minor league deals. Cesar Izturis and Rafael Furcal were touted as potential starters for the Mets (given their financial constraints). The Mets met with the agents of Freddy Garcia and Johan Santana, which “indicated the market they were in”. We were told that a pitcher like Daisuke Matsuzaka was a legitimate option for the back end.

Turns out that wouldn’t be the case.

Oct 4, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) pitches the ball against the Detroit Tigers during the sixth inning in game one of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, minutes after reports indicated that the Mets were pessimistic about agreeing to terms with former Oakland Athletic Bartolo Colon on a two-year, $20M contract. Colon is 41, but was second in the American League in ERA and has a 3.32 ERA over the past three seasons between Oakland and the Yankees.

Right now, the Mets’ rotation should consist of Jonathon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Colon, and Jenrry Mejia. Mejia, who Keith Law described as having “front-line stuff”, is viewed as an injury risk as he’s never pitched 110 innings and made only five major league starts last season before getting minor elbow surgery. Fortunately, the Mets have both Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard, both of whom are expected to be major-league ready this season.

Their lineup as of today should resemble something akin to (Shortstop)/Daniel Murphy/David Wright/Curtis Granderson/(Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Satin)/Chris Young/Travis d’Arnaud/Juan Lagares. Between what should be an outstanding defensive outfield (and a reasonable chance to improve upon the .238/.301/.384 collective slashline posted in 2013) and likely improvements at catcher (.219/.288/.366), shortstop (.215/.285/.276), and hopefully first base (.234/.353/.368), the Mets lineup could be dramatically improved in all facets.

Sandy Alderson said today that “2014 is not about individual story lines. It’s not about rehabs. It’s about winning.” The moves he’s made in the past week certainly suggest that, and they don’t sacrifice the medium-to-long-term aspirations for the Mets.

Everyone except the Mets has been saying that the Mets would punt 2014. For once, it seems like the only people who were truthful with the team’s intents were Jeff Wilpon and Sandy Alderson, and both have been lambasted for being deceptive and dishonest.

I’m excited. You probably should be too.

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