New York Mets News

Built around pitching, Mets are still headed in right direction

By Danny Abriano

As ugly as it’s been for the Mets over the last month and change, now is not the time to enter panic mode. It’s not the time to start dealing players left and right, and it’s not the time to start worrying or pondering about another rebuild.

May 2, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 Mets, like most expected, are very likely not going to contend for anything. Instead, their goal in 2014 may be finishing with a .500 or better record for the first time since 2008.

After five straight losing seasons, most fans are alternating between angry and apathetic. The failure of ownership to allow the front office to spend on the best offensive upgrades available has been a major talking point, and the crowds at Citi Field are shrinking as the summer nears.

However, that doesn’t mean the Mets are going in the wrong direction.

The Mets, with starting pitching as their foundation in the majors and throughout all levels of the organization, are still headed in the right direction – even though it’s not reflected in the standings at the moment.

With the pitching the Mets have at the big league level and advancing through the minor leagues, as well as the back-end of the bullpen taking shape, they should be able to put together a dominant pitching staff while using the excess pieces to deal for the offense they so badly need.

In 2015, the Mets are set to have a starting rotation headlined by Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Noah Syndergaard. That rotation will likely be rounded out with whoever the Mets decide not to trade between Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon, Jacob deGrom, and perhaps Rafael Montero.

In the bullpen, the switch of Jenrry Mejia to closer, the emergence of Jeurys Familia as a legitimate late-inning arm, and the performance of Vic Black has stabilized what has been a mess all too often.

Add to that the return of Josh Edgin‘s velocity and the prospect of getting Bobby Parnell back from Tommy John surgery in 2015 and the Mets appear to be in tremendous position pitching-wise.

With a potentially dominant starting rotation (that’s also young and inexpensive) and a bullpen that appears to be taking shape, the Mets are two thirds of the way to being a formidable overall team.

The last step, of course, will be righting the ship offensively.

At the moment, it appears that the Mets have only four positions that are settled: David Wright at third base, Juan Lagares in center field, Curtis Granderson in either right field or left field, and Daniel Murphy at second base (although they might deal Murphy, who is arbitration eligible after the season).

The Mets have some hitting prospects who are getting closer, such as Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera, and Dominic Smith, but those players are all a few years away.

In order to take the final step that makes them contenders as early as 2015, the Mets will have to improve the offense through both trades and free agency.

As is noted above, the Mets should be able to use some of their starting pitching to acquire offensive improvements – needed badly in the outfield and at shortstop.

With Travis d’Arnaud currently in Triple-A Las Vegas attempting to find his swing, the Mets may also have an issue on their hands at catcher. If d’Arnaud does fail, though, the club will likely turn to Kevin Plawecki before seeking an external solution.

Regardless of what happens with d’Arnaud, the Mets are close.

They’ll need to make smart trades and spend wisely, but the full rebuild is just about over. The final steps needed to make the Mets legitimate contenders haven’t yet been taken, but the rest of the pieces are in place.