Part four of our Mets season preview continues Thursday, with Mets final record predictions…
Danny Abriano, Editor –
There are some who say the Mets’ major offseason additions – Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon – are almost meaningless since those two players are “replacing” Marlon Byrd and Matt Harvey. Those people then take it a step further, using that rationale to state that the Mets will not take a step forward in 2014. For me, that view is way too simplistic.
While Colon and Granderson are in essence filling the spots of Harvey and Byrd, the rest of the roster – both in the majors and minors – is more skilled and deeper than it was in 2013.
Up the middle, the Mets should have catcher Travis d’Arnaud and center fielder Juan Lagares for a full season – something they didn’t have in 2013. Although it’s flown under the radar a bit, the signing of Chris Young gives the Mets an outfielder who plays plus defense and has both pop and speed.
Mar 9, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcherZack Wheeler
(45) throws against the Atlanta Braves before the spring training action at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
In the starting rotation, many are bemoaning the loss of Harvey. What they’re failing to realize is that the Mets’ rotation as a whole is deeper than it was in 2013. There isn’t a Matt Harvey in the bunch, but – in addition to the solid group currently assembled – the rotation options by midseason should include both Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard.
In the bullpen, the Mets have a wild card in Jeurys Familia – a young reliever with closer upside who appears to be coming into his own. Additionally, the club has a number of solid relief options in the minors such as Cory Mazzoni and Jeff Walters.
There are still issues at shortstop and first base. Those need to be addressed, and that will hopefully happen in short order. Most teams – the Mets included – have warts. However, those warts do not erase the fact that the rest of the club is in good shape.
In the 2014 Mets, I see a team that’s likely one year away from legitimate contention, but who will be markedly improved over 2013.
Final Record: 82-80
Mike Lecolant, Staff Writer –
One of the traditional formulas for winning baseball consists of strong pitching, good defense, and timely hitting.
Pitching will be the club’s strength this season, with the possibility of further improvements coming later in the season. The Mets are well stocked at both the AA and AAA levels, in both starters and relief pitchers, that should ideally provide the Mets with quality arms for several years to come.
Defensively, the Mets are still a bit unsettled. Up the middle, Travis d’Arnaud, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and a still as yet decided upon shortstop are the best they can do. Juan’s defensive talent is clearly more desirable than Eric Young‘s glove work. At second base, Daniel Murphy could improve on his .976 fielding percentage. Travis d’Arnaud seems solid behind the plate, and we’ll just have to wait out this shortstop situation. I prefer the Mets go with the strongest arm in right field.
At the plate, they certainly have more potential heading into this season, than last. In 2013, the Mets ranked 4th in the N.L. in drawing walks. That’s the extent of their highlights. Of the 15 National League teams, the Mets ranked 14th in batting average, 13th in OBP, 14th in slugging, 11th in home runs, and 11th in runs scored.
Despite their light offensive production last season, the bullpen was a much larger source of angst, and in their final 100 games of the season, the Mets posted a .500 record. I’m hoping the Mets can finally have a winning season at Citi Field.
Final Record: 83-79
Sam Maxwell, Staff Writer –
While I would love for the Mets to ACTUALLY win 90 games, it’s more realistic that they will turn the corner but fall short of that number. I still think this team has what it takes to finally have a winning record again. As long as Terry Collins actually takes the better talent he now has and turns it into wins and doesn’t screw up like he did with his lesser talented teams in many places, then I think we are on to something.
Final Record: 85-77
Will DeBoer, Staff Writer –
As it does every year, the Mets’ season will hinge on staying healthy. If David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, and others miss significant playing time, the offense will struggle as it has throughout the Terry Collins era. If Jonathon Niese and Jenrry Mejia cannot stay healthy, if Bartolo Colon‘s age finally catches up with him, and if John Lannan has to become more than just a spot-starter, New York’s pitching will barely be able to utilize an average offense, let alone a poor one. If the injury bug bites once again, don’t expect the Mets to fare much better than the 74-88 records they have put up in the last two seasons.
Mar 4, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets right fielderCurtis Granderson
(3) hits a two run home run off Houston Astros starting pitcherRudy Owens
(not pictured) in spring training action at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
On the other hand, if every hitter puts up the same numbers he did in his last full season (2013 for most, 2012 for Granderson and Young), the Mets will have a solid batting order. If Niese can put in 30 starts and Colon can bring his Oakland magic to the NL, New York will have a rotation to envy. If the bullpen can be marginally better than it has been in the last decade, even better.
Look for the starting rotation to be the X-factor for the Mets in 2014. Even without Matt Harvey, it is stacked, and that’s not even counting the expected arrivals of Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard. With pitching like this, the offense can afford to be middle of the pack. It should lead to an extra couple wins each month, which does not seem like much but in baseball is the difference between a winning team and a losing team. The Mets will finish solidly in third place in the NL East, and on track to become Amazin’ once more by 2015.
Final Record: 84-78
Dan Haefeli, Staff Writer –
The Mets were one of the most active teams in free agency this year, guaranteeing more than $80 Million in contracts to Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, and Bartolo Colon. The first two made some sense – it was imperative the team found production from its outfield, whose value rested almost entirely on Juan Lagares‘ fantastic defense and the surprising bat of the now-departed Marlon Byrd. Last summer the thought of spending money on the rotation would have seemed ridiculous, but All-Star Matt Harvey is expected to miss the entire season after Tommy John surgery in October. Replacing him is the age-defying 41-year-old Bartolo Colon whose almost-entirely-fastball repertoire has found him with a 3.32 ERA over the past three seasons.
The question on everyone’s mind this year has been a simple one: do these moves do more than offset the loss of Harvey and Byrd? Upon a closer inspection, it’s perhaps a shortsighted question. The two combined for 9.5 fWAR last year, suggesting that the Mets would be nearly ten games worse without them. But baseball is a team game. While Granderson and Colon will likely fall short of that total, it’s easy to see a scenario where the Mets improve at several other positions: Lucas Duda‘s production in left field was effectively negated by his defense (and Eric Young‘s better defense negated by his poor offense). Ruben Tejada had a terrible May and never got a chance to rebound, leaving us with four months of Omar Quintanilla. Ike Davis again struggled early. John Buck‘s torrid April led to months of minimal offense at catcher. The presence of top prospects Rafael Montero & Noah Syndergaard allow the Mets to avoid pitchers like Aarons Laffey & Harang or Carlos Torres (who combined to an average 5.4 IP/start and 4.56 ERA).
The Mets aren’t likely to replace the production of Harvey & Byrd spot-for-spot. But as the 2002 “Moneyball” A’s showed us, they don’t have to. The 2014 club appears to have a more balanced roster, with significant improvements on defense and better offensive depth than in the past. On paper, the team looks slightly better than last year’s 74-win campaign, but with a full season of David Wright and better starts from Tejada and Davis, they should comfortably pass that mark, and stand a strong chance at ending New York’s 5-year slide.
Final Record: 83-79
Rich Sparago, Staff Writer –
The Mets will be better in 2014 than they were in 2013. One thing to keep in mind is that the outfield was a weak spot for the team last year, and it should a strength this year. Consider this: last year on opening day, the outfield was Lucas Duda, Collin Cowgill, and Marlon Byrd. This year’s starting outfield projects to be Chris Young, Juan Lagares, and Curtis Granderson (with Eric Young Junior and Andrew Brown available on the bench). This is a significant upgrade. I expect Chris Young to have a bounce-back type of season (a huge left field upgrade), and I believe that Granderson will contribute at least as much as Marlon Byrd did. Center field should be no contest, as Lagares will significantly out-perform Cowgill and the others who played the position last year.
Mar 11, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (12) makes a catch against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
On the mound, even without Matt Harvey, the Mets’ pitching should be better than last year. This year, there’s no Shawn Markham. Instead, the Mets will have Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, and Dillon Gee up front, with a full season of Zack Wheeler. In the fifth spot, they’ll likely have the strong right arm of Jenrry Mejia, rather than Aaron Harang or Dauiske Matsuzaka. And to make matters even better, Rafael Montero and/or Noah Syndergaard will be coming up in the middle of the season. In the bullpen, the Mets will have some interesting power arms, with Bobby Parnell, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, and Gonzalez Germen. Scott Rice and John Lannan will be the lefties, with Carlos Torres as the swing man. That’s a formidable pitching staff.
The picture isn’t quite so good on the infield. While David Wright and Daniel Murphy should do what they normally do, the Mets are unresolved at first base and at shortstop. Sandy Alderson’s inability to shed either Lucas Duda or Ike Davis could lead to reduced roster flexibility (if they both make the team, which is being discussed). In addition, it’s very hard to know what either player can provide as the left-handed half of the platoon with Josh Satin. Then there’s shortstop. With options on the market (free agent and trade), and players to deal, Alderson decided to stay with Ruben Tejada. This is a move (or lack thereof) that I think Alderson will deeply regret, as I see this position being a hole for the team all season, unless outside help is imported. Behind the plate, Travis d’Arnaud is still an unknown quantity, backed up capably by Anthony Recker.
So, with an improved outfield and a strong and deep pitching staff, I see 6 more wins. If my thoughts play out as written, I’ll be left to wonder what may have happened if first base and shortstop were shored up during last winter.
Final Record: 80-82
Andrew Battifarano, Staff Writer –
There will be an improvement over the past few years of 74-win teams. This squad could honestly win anywhere between 70-85 wins in my opinion, but it depends on a few things going one way or the other.
For starters, this year’s outfield is going to be a strength of this team. Many seem to think that the production from Byrd will be hard to replicate, but I believe that Chris Young has the chance to break out and Curtis Granderson will provide around 20-25 homers behind David Wright. Juan Lagares will hopefully be the opening day center fielder, and if he his, the outfield as a whole will be in great shape.
Even without Matt Harvey, the starting rotation is going to be solid group. Zack Wheeler will be in his second year and could end up having quite the year on the mound. Bartolo Colon will be a 40-year-old innings eater that the Mets could definitely use. His athleticism is impressive for his size, and his command is top-tier. Combined with Dillon Gee, Jonathon Niese and whoever the fifth starter is (hopefully Jenrry Mejia) the rotation should not be a concern in 2014. Plus with Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero set to make appearances this summer, I’m looking forward to watching this group.
The real “x-factors” for this team, however, are really the catching and shortstop spots. I love the possibilities of Travis d’Arnaud; the guy can call a game as good as anyone. His offense is the real question mark though, but if he can hit, this team will obviously benefit. If he struggles, the Mets could be on the lower end of the 70-win spectrum. The same goes for shortstop. Whether it’s Ruben Tejada, Wilmer Flores, Didi Gregorius or Stephen Drew, the Mets need production from this position. It’s a huge question mark going into the year and needs to be addressed for obvious reasons.
I would love to see this team surprise everyone and make that 90-win prediction by Sandy Alderson become a reality. But when it comes down to it, I still think 2015 is the year and 2014 will be the stepping stone for next season. This year will be much more exciting than past seasons and I look forward to seeing some of the younger players thrive.
Final Record: 80-82
Shannon Finkel, Staff Writer –
While I admire the optimism in Sandy Alderson’s 90 win prediction, there is seemingly no way the 2014 Mets go that far. I predict their season will end slightly above their record of the past few years: 82-80. A lot would have to go right for the team, though.
Between Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, and Bartolo Colon, the Mets finally did some spending this offseason. The former two successfully addressed their struggling outfield situation, upgrading both offensively and defensively. And although we can’t expect Colon to have a repeat of his Cy Young candidacy season of last year, he should be able to be a solid replacement for Matt Harvey.
Feb 20, 2014; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) in spring training action at Tradition Field]. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Now that they have some experience under their belt, I think Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud are going to impact the Mets in a big way this year. I expect Wheeler’s command to improve, and d’Arnaud will begin to get comfortable at the plate, displaying the power that he’s shown throughout the minors.
There are a few question marks, though, that are causing me to lowball my final record prediction. It looks like Ruben Tejada will get the nod at shortshop, at least to begin the season. He has proven to be a liability with the bat, and even his strong defense of the past seems to have taken a toll.
Then there’s the first base situation. Will we see Ike Davis or Lucas Duda play every day? Davis’ ups and downs of the past few seasons make it difficult to say how he will perform in 2014. With a second half that included an OBP of .449 last year, Davis’ production could be huge for the Mets.
Overall, I can finally see the Mets finishing above .500, a feat that hasn’t been achieved in Flushing since 2008.
Final Record: 82-80