Mets -2014

Overall - The Mets are the equivalent to the younger brother of the New York Yankees.  They may try harder but no matter how strong the effort the older brother usually wins out.  The Madoff scandal put restrictions on their salary structure since the ownership group invested heavily, putting a ceiling on the amount of money they could spend.  That is no longer an impediment but the Mets have still not been big spenders.  Despite having David Wright on the roster the Mets found their offense next to last among the 30 teams in batting and slugging and near the bottom in runs scored.  They also finished next to last in completing double plays.  The bright spot seems to be their young pitching is coming around, though this year they will have to do without Matt Harvey, who will be out the whole year because of Tommy John surgery.  The last time the Mets had a winning record was when two pitchers (Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey) threw 200 innings.  With Harvey out they will find it tough to have two pitchers throw 200 innings this year.  Citifield tends to make the pitchers better and the hitters worse.  They are playing with a rebuilt outfield, a questionable infield and young pitching staff.  That is usually a recipe for disaster.

Key Additions: They have rebuilt they’re outfield with the acquisitions of Chris Young and Curtis Granderson.  Chris has trouble making contact but is an excellent defensive player.  He will play right field.  Curtis Granderson was injured most of last year and is far from the centerfielder he once was a couple years ago.  He will move to left field.  Bartolo Colon is a veteran pitcher who continues to get the job done.  He is no longer the workhorse he used to be as age sets in.  They signed a couple relievers, Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde to minor league contracts.  If one of them works out the investment was worth it.  They also signed John Lannan to a minor league contract to compete for the fifth starting spot with Daisuke Matsuzaka and a host of younger pitchers for the fifth starting spot.

Key Subtractions - They did not lose any key players who they could not replace with younger players.  Volatile Jordany Valdespin and utilityman Justin Turner had the most at bats.

Catcher - This should be the unveiling of Travis d’Arnaud, provided he can stay healthy.  Injuries have prevented him from having a full year.  If healthy he could produce some offensive numbers, with the potential to his 20 plus homeruns.  His defense is also solid.  In a brief 99 at bat 2013 he only hit .202.  That is a reason they need to find a veteran to back up d’Arnaud.  They have Anthony Recker and Juan Centeno on the 40 man roster but both players would have trouble filling the position if asked to do it on a full time basis.  Taylor Teagarden was signed to a minor league contract and he would be the perfect back up.  In the minors the Mets are intrigued by Kevin Plawecki, who put up impressive offensive numbers (.305, 8, 80) with solid defensive tools.  The best thing is he has not shown a propensity for injury like d’Arnaud.

First Base - This will be a battle between two players who had difficult offensive years, Lucas Duda and Ike Davis.  The Mets tried Duda in left field and learned he had little range for the position.  This would not have been so bad if he could show an ability to generate some offense.  For Davis, his offense has regressed since his rookie year.  He claims to have been injured much of last year.  The Mets tried to trade one of them this year since they both provide the same tools, a bevy of homeruns with low averages and lots of strikeouts, with neither of them being a jewel defensively.  Another option is to shift Wilmer Flores to first base.  His best positions, second and third are filled and the Mets could use his bat.  The Mets 2013 number one pick Dominic Smith is their best hope for the future but is still raw.  He did not show power in his debut, parking only three in close to 200 at bats last year.  Since he appears to be at least two to three years away the Mets will have to call upon AAA minor leaguers Josh Satin or Zachary Lutz to fill back up roles.  Because Davis and Duda struggled against lefthanders the Mets may go with the right handed bats of Flores, Satin or Lutz.

Second Base - Dan Murphy needs to hit if he wants to see playing time at second base.  His defense is horrendous.  Last year he hit .286, driving in 78 runs with 13 homeruns so the Mets could tolerate his porous defense (16 errors).  If he doesn’t hit the Mets could turn to Wilmer Flores for the position.  Flores only hit .211 in 100 major league at bats but he hit .321 with 15 homeruns in the dry air of AAA Las Vegas.  His defense is slightly better than Murphy but it will not garner any gold glove votes.  Eric Young is best used in a utility role, but second base is his best position.  When he plays he gives the Mets their best leadoff option with 48 stolen bases last year.  Young can also play centerfield to spell Juan Lagares.  There are not a lot of answers to this position at any level of the minor leagues.  They did draft L.J. Mazzilli in the fourth round last year and he hit .278 with the Brooklyn Cyclones.  He is the son of Lee, the Mets first round pick 40 years ago.  Dilson Herrera is a talented player from Colombia who bashed 11 homeruns in Low A.

Shortstop - This is the biggest hole for the Mets.  Scott Boras has tried to convince them to sign Stephen Drew to a multi year contract but they don’t want to spend the money on a player who they feel is not much better than their current shortstop Ruben Tejeda.  Ruben was injured or toiled in AAA much of last year, but when he did play for the Mets he only hit .202.  At AAA Vegas he hit .288.  The Mets would like to see more of the latter.  With that kind of major league production he needs to play gold glove defense, which he doesn’t, to win a major league job.  He also came into camp in poor shape, or not the kind of shape the Mets would like him to be in to play shortstop.  The Mets were forced to give Omar Quintanilla the most starts at short last year and he is a non-roster invitee, his .222 average not good enough to stay on the 40 man roster.  Wilmer Flores played most of his minor league season at short and is lacking a position, but he is woefully inadequate in range.  However, if Tejeda is in poor shape to play defense you might as well go with the better bat.  The Mets have a good fielding shortstop in AA in Wilfredo Tovar, but his offense is as anemic as Tejeda (.267).  The Mets real hope for the future is Gavin Cecchini, their first round pick in the 2012 draft.  He hasn’t hit as they hoped, failing to hit a homerun in over 200 at bats and producing only a .314 slugging.

Third Base - The Mets would like to get a healthy year from David Wright.  He did play 112 games last year, socking 18 homeruns and hitting .307.  The Mets would like to see this kind of production in 150 games.  Despite the high homerun numbers and the .514 slugging he only drove in 58 runs.  Wilmer Flores best position may be third base and he will move here if Wright gets hurt.  Josh Satin and Zach Lutz play the back up role as well.  They have no one in the minor leagues to take over at this position in the long run if Wright gets injured.

Left Field - At 33 Curtis Granderson has lost the range to play centerfield.  Last year he only got a little over 200 at bats with the Yankees.  He signed as a free agent with the Mets.  The Mets can only hope Curtis can rejuvenate his 2011 ad 2012 seasons when he slugged 41 and 43 homeruns.  Eric Young does not have a strong arm, so his best outfield spot if the Mets wanted to get his bat in the lead off spot.  Lucas Duda could also see action here if Terry Collins wants to put both Davis and Duda in the lineup.  Brandon Nimmo was the Mets first round pick in 2011, the highest high school player drafted out of Wyoming.  The Mets seem to have a lot of options in right field but only one position to fill there.  Left field will go to one of those players.  Nimmo did not hit for a lot of power last year but he walked 71 times.  With more physical maturity the Mets hope more of his hits travel over the fence, otherwise he may have to move to centerfield to find playing time.

Centerfield - Juan Lagares covers a lot of ground in centerfield and won the job last year.  His bat is a bit anemic but the Mets hope to see improvement in his second year.  Last year he hit just .242 with 4 homeruns.  His .281 OBA and lack of stolen base speed does not make him ideal for the leadoff spot.  Eric Young can also play here, but a weak arm makes him better suited for left field.  The best defensive centerfielder is Matt den Dekker, but he has yet to show he can hit major league pitching.  He comes with intriguing power but lots of strikeouts.  He batted .207 with 23 whiffs in 58 at bats in his major league debut.  At 27 he is getting a bit long in the tooth to still be considered a prospect.  Chris Young is another player who could move to right field to play center if Cesar Puello is called up.

Right field - Chris Young covers a lot of ground for a right fielder.  It has been some time since he has been an offensive threat.  The concern is whether he will hit.  Last year he hit just .200 with a .280 OBA.  He has the ability to hit for power with 12 homeruns, but that comes with a lot of swings and misses.  He struck out 93 times in 107 games last year.  If he fails to hit Cesar Puello hit .326 with 16 homeruns and a .547 slugging percentage in 91 games in AAA before being suspended in the Biogeneses scandal.  The previous year he hit .260 with a .423 slugging in just 66 games in a season plagued by injuries.  Andrew Brown is a AAA lifer, but he did hit .346 in 41 games in AAA earning him a backup role in the major leagues.  There he could only hit .227 but still he went deep 7 times in 68 games.

Starting Pitching - With Matt Harvey gone the Mets may turn to veteran Bartolo Colon as their ace.  At 41 years of age he went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 30 starts.  The Mets will take some of that success in the number one spot but he may not have a lot of bullets left in that pitching arm.  Zack Wheeler hopes to show he is ready in his first complete major league season.  The Mets traded Carlos Beltran for him.  He was 7-5, 3.42 in 17 starts for the Mets last year.  After that the pitching gets pretty spotty from a quality perspective.  Jon Niese put in 24 starts last year with lots of inconsistent performances that saw his ERA sit at 3.71.  Dillion Gee is another pitcher with underwhelming stuff who went 12-11, 3.62.  The fifth and final spot will be a competition between Jenry Mejiia, John Lannan and Daisuke Matzusake.  Mejia is coming off an arm injury while both Lannan and Matzusake are coming off poor seasons.  The Mets will hope that one of Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jake Degrom find success to make the major league roster.  One and possibly two of those pitchers will fill the starting rotation before the 2014 season is complete.

Bullpen - The biggest problem for the Mets could be here.  Hard throwing Bobby Parnell was the closer for much of 2013 but a bulging disk in his neck put him out for the rest of the season.  Jeurys Familia has closer stuff but elbow injuries sidelined him the last couple years.  Vic Black showed closer stuff in the Pirates minor league level.  He finished with 17 saves in AAA.  Kyle Farnsworth has also had closing experience, picking up 25 saves in 2011 with the Rays.  At 37 he is better utilized as a set up man.  Josh Edgin will be the lefty out of the pen, though lefthanders hit him better (.250) than righthanders last year (.236).  Scott Rice is another lefty who gets lefthanded batters out (.172) but not righthanders (.362).  They can also take some of their younger starters and move them to the bullpen to get their career started.

Potential Rookie Candidates - Travis d’Arnaud should win the starting catcher job and if he remains healthy would be one of the rookie of the year candidates.  Jeurys Familia could also get some recognition if he takes over the closer role.  Noah Syndergaard should see a callup before the All Star break.  A good spring could see him open in the starting rotation.  Wilmer Flores could see a lot of time at a number of positions.  If he hits throw his name into the rookie of the year consideration.  Cesar Puello could take over the right field job if young struggles and if he shows the drug suspension was not responsible for his .326 average and 16 homeruns he could make waves in the major leagues.  Finally, the Mets could go with Wilfredo Tovar at short if Tejeda disappoints and Flores can’t play defense.  The Mets are rebuilding and many of their younger players are percolating up to fill major league roles.  Their success will tell a lot about the future of the Mets and their competition with the Yankees of the back pages of the press.

2008 draft - Ike Daviis was their number one pick.  He looked like a star after his first year but has struggled to hit for average the last two seasons, showing a real inability to hit lefthanded pitching.  Kirk Nieuwenhuis was a fourth round pick who saw some playing time last year but failed to hit (.189).  He may still be able to make it as a fourth outfielder because of his defense.  Josh Satin is a sixth round pick that will fit a bench role as a corner infielder.  Those are the only three players to contribute to the major league cause.

Expected Finish - With Harvey gone they will continue to rebuild.  They have two weak teams in their division, one in the rebuilding Marlins and the second in the aging Phillies.  It will be a three way battle between these teams for the bottom division.  Expect the Mets to finish in third place.

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