In-Depth Preview/Prediction for New York Mets in 2013
Added by Justin Mears on March 8, 2013.
New York Mets 2013 Prediction: 4th NL EAST
Mets fans are ready to see what Matt Harvey can do in a full season.
Alderson’s Vision Beginning To Take Form
When Sandy Alderson took the reigns as General Manager of the New York Mets prior to the 2011 season, he inherited a roster that was littered with bloated contracts and underachieving veterans. The two years that followed were far from a success on the field, as during Alderson’s tenure that Mets have gone just 151-173, but it’s hard not to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In two separate high profile trades, Alderson turned two players over the age of 35 (outfielder Carlos Beltran and starting pitcher R.A. Dickey) into three of the game’s brightest young talents, right handed pitchers Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, and catcher Travis d’Arnaud. Impatient fans may be a little frustrated with his approach, but Alderson has laid the foundation for this team to be successful year after year, and special days are definitely looming in Queens.
For in all likelihood the final time, New York’s rotation will be led by 34 year old southpaw Johan Santana. The two-time Cy Young award winner is in the final season of the six year deal he signed with the Mets in 2008, and while overall his tenure in the Big Apple has been a success, he’s coming off arguably the worst season of his career. In 21 starts Santana posted a 4.85 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP in 117 innings, and while it’s impossible to ignore the fact that he threw the first no-hitter in Mets history last June, it’s important to note that he wore down as the season went on, and completely fell apart before being shutdown in September. One of the most encouraging developments for the Mets in ’12 was the breakout season of left hander Jon Niese, who quietly emerged as one of the most dependable starters in the National League. In 30 starts the Lima, OH native set new personal bests in wins (13), ERA (3.40), WHIP (1.17), IP (190.1), strikeouts (155), and batting average against’ (.241). The 26 year old was coveted by several teams in trade discussions this winter, but Alderson made it clear he isn’t going anywhere, as he figures to be the veteran leader in this rotation when all of the young pitchers arrive. Entering last season right hander Matt Harvey was one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, and after making his Major League debut late last July, the UNC product didn’t disappoint. In 59.1 innings as a rookie the 24 year old delivered a 2.73 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP, while striking out 70 hitters and holding the opposition to just a .200 batting average. The New London, CT native brings toughness and confidence that borders on cocky to the mound, and he is without question one of the most important pieces of the Mets future. Texas native Dillon Gee was in the midst of a productive season in ’12 when a previously undetected blood clot required emergency surgery and ended his campaign in mid-July. Prior to that the righty had made 17 starts, going 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP in 109.2 innings, and while he’ll never be an ace, the 27 year old consistently provides this team with innings and gives them a chance to win. The final spot in the New York rotation will go to veteran right hander Shaun Marcum, who was one of only two players Alderson signed to a Major League free-agent contract this winter. With Milwaukee a year ago the Kansas City, MO native went 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts, and the Mets are hoping he can give them a durable and reliable arm while also being a sounding board for some of their young pitchers. Righties Jeremy Hefner, Jenrry Mejia, and Collin McHugh all started games for New York in 2012 and figure to supply rotation depth in ’13, and 23 year old phenom Zack Wheeler will assuredly make his big league debut at some point this summer.
New York’s bullpen was arguably the worst in the National League in 2012, and after making several changes this winter the group quite frankly has to be better in the upcoming campaign. One of the biggest culprits in regards to the relief corps failure a season ago was right handed closer Frank Francisco, whose first year as a Met was an unmitigated disaster. In 48 games the veteran turned in a career worst 5.53 ERA with an ugly 1.61 WHIP, and while he did convert 23 of his 26 save chances, the closer’s job will not be handed to him in 2013. Salisbury, NC native Bobby Parnell enjoyed the best season of his career last year, and the righty will be given every opportunity to take over as the club’s stopper moving forward. In a career high 74 appearances in ’12 the 28 year old delivered a 2.49 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP in 68.2 innings, while holding the opposition to just a .249 batting average and allowing only four homeruns all season long. Veteran right hander Brandon Lyon signed a free-agent contract with New York on the eve of spring training, and his arrival should go a long way towards improving this bullpen. The 33 year old split last season between Houston and Toronto, combining to post a 3.10 ERA in 67 appearances, and his experience, particularly as a late inning reliever, should help exponentially. Francis Marion University product Josh Edgin made his big league debut on July 13th last year, and 26 year old made enough of an impression down the stretch for the Mets to enter 2013 with him as their top left handed reliever. In 34 appearances as a rookie he registered a strong 1.13 WHIP, while holding left handed hitters to a phenomenal .164 batting average and striking out 30 men in 25.2 innings. The rest of the Mets bullpen will be sorted out in spring training, but Alderson is hoping three veterans whom he brought in as non-roster invites can all make the club in March. Right hander Scott Atchison appeared in 42 games for Boston a year ago and was absolutely brilliant, compiling a 1.58 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP in 51.1 innings, and if he’s healthy he should be a lock to go north in April. Fellow veteran righty LaTroy Hawkins should also have a great chance to stick after the Gary, IN native turned in a more than respectable campaign for the Angels in 2012. In 48 appearances the 40 year old finished with a 3.64 ERA in 42 innings, and his presence should have a positive impact on some of the younger arms on this pitching staff. Left hander Pedro Feliciano was one of the most effective relievers in all of baseball for the Mets from ’06-’10, and after two injury plagued seasons as a member of the Yankees, the veteran has found his way back to Queens. The 36 year old will have to prove he’s healthy and capable of being the same guy he was during his first Mets tenure if he wants to make the club, and if he can turn back the clock the New York bullpen just got a lot better. If Hawkins and Feliciano both make the team out of spring training it will allow the Mets to send hard-throwing righty Jeurys Familia and southpaw Robert Carson both back to AAA for more seasoning, something that should only benefit all parties involved.
For the Mets to compete in 2013 they’ll need their entire infield to be a serious strength for them, and shortstop Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy will both be key pieces on both sides of the ball. In his first season after taking over for departed fan favorite Jose Reyes, the 23 year old Tejada proved he is more than capable of being an everyday Major League shortstop. Despite missing over five weeks with a quad injury the Panama native registered 464 official at-bats, in which he hit a strong .289 while getting on-base at a .333 clip and setting a new career high with 26 doubles. He was used primarily as the club’s leadoff man a year ago and while it’s unclear where he will hit in 2013, it is obvious this team needs him in the line-up. The left handed hitting Murphy is believe it or not one of the Mets longest tenured players after first appearing for the team in 2008, and after several position changes the Jacksonville, FL native has finally found a home at second base. Last season the 28 year old hit .291 with six homeruns and a career high 65 RBI’s for New York, and while they would like to see a little more power out of him in the upcoming campaign, he’ll always be one of the team’s best all-around hitters. Super utility man Justin Turner will provide depth all over the Mets infield, and former Athletic Brandon Hicks will battle with Omar Quintanilla in spring training to be the club’s other reserve infielder.
Any conversation about the New York Mets generally begins and ends with their superstar third baseman David Wright, and after inking a monster eight year contract extension over the winter the Norfolk, VA native will likely spend the rest of his career in orange and blue. Last season the six time all-star enjoyed a tremendous campaign, hitting .306 with 21 homeruns and 93 RBI’s, while doubling 41 times and finishing 5th in the NL in both OBP (.391) and OPS (.883). The 30 year olds’ 178 hits were his highest total since 2008, and New York will ask their captain to lead their young core for many years to come. Across the diamond at position number three on your scorecard, Mets first baseman Ike Davis is coming off one of baseball’s strangest seasons in recent memory. The Arizona State product was hitting a woeful .167 on June 1st last year but he came on down the stretch, ending the year with a .227 batting average and finishing 5th in the National League with 32 homeruns. The 26 year old drove in a career high 90 runs while never letting his early season offensive problems affect his defense, and the Mets are counting on the young left handed slugger to deliver a complete campaign in 2013. Versatile utility man Justin Turner will back up both corner infield positions.
Entering 2013 the most glaring weakness the Mets have is without question their outfield corps, as while Alderson and his lieutenants were linked to several big names over the offseason, they failed to land Justin Upton, Michael Bourn, or anyone else that would have been a drastic upgrade over what they have now. While platoons may ultimately develop in the other two outfield positions, in left New York is determined to give Riverside, CA native Lucas Duda another opportunity to prove he can be a productive everyday player at the Major League level. In ’12 the USC product hit just .239 in 401 big league at-bats, and though he did hit 15 homeruns while driving in a career high 57 runs, the Mets were banking on him to deliver much more offense. A year ago the 27 year old was asked to be the club’s everyday right fielder, a defensive assignment that politely stated didn’t work, and the team is hoping a shift to the opposite corner will help him rebound offensively. In center field the Mets will almost certainly utilize a platoon, likely involving Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill. Last season the left handed hitting Nieuwenhuis showed promise as a rookie, hitting .252 with seven homeruns in 282 at-bats, and while his 98 strikeouts were way too many, continued experience at the big league level should only help. Cowgill is a rare player that throws left handed but hits from the right side, and New York was happy to add the gritty hardnosed Kentucky native in an offseason trade with the A’s. In Oakland a year ago the 27 year old hit .269 in 104 at-bats, and ’13 figures to be his first chance at extended playing time at the game’s highest level. While the Mets may end up playing match-ups in right field as well, at least at the beginning of spring training it appears the club may give veteran non-roster invite Marlon Byrd an opportunity to reassert himself as a productive Major Leaguer. While 2012 was a complete disaster for the Boynton Beach, FL native, he brings a lifetime .278 batting average and has made a positive impression early in the spring. New York native Mike Baxter will also see a plethora of playing time in 2013, and while the 28 year old hit .263 in 179 at-bats last year, he was absolutely brilliant as a pinch-hitter but the team felt he was a bit overexposed playing every day. Flashy Jordany Valdespin and young Matt Den Dekker could both find some playing time in the New York outfield in the upcoming campaign.
New York’s catching situation will be interesting to watch, as from the very first day of spring training few Mets received as much attention as young Travis d’Arnaud, the centerpiece of the team’s blockbuster trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto. The 24 year old has never played in the Major Leagues but hit a whopping .333 in AAA last year, and from all indications it won’t be very long before he’s a mainstay behind the plate in Queens. In the meantime the club will start veteran John Buck, who was acquired in the same trade with the Blue Jays. In Miami in ’12 the 32 year old hit just .192, but he owns a lifetime batting average of .235 and has consistently provided some right handed power towards the bottom of the batting order. Allentown, PA native Anthony Recker will likely serve as the team’s back-up catcher on opening day but his role is that of a lame duck, as the second d’Arnaud is promoted he will take over as the team’s number one with Buck becoming his back-up.
The Mets are fortunate to have a player like Justin Turner on their bench as the Cal State Fullerton product gives them an incredible amount of versatility. Last season the 28 year old started a game at all four infield positions and hit .269, and he’ll generally be the first man off the New York bench in 2013. While Mike Baxter is best known for his no-hitter saving catch last June, the left handed bat quietly delivered a strong all-around season, and while he struggled a little bit as an everyday player, if Marlon Byrd can handle right field on a regular basis Baxter will again provide the Mets with a reliable pinch-hitter. Former Oakland outfielder Collin Cowgill will likely serve as the right handed half of a center field platoon with Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Anthony Recker will hold a catching roster spot until Travis d’Arnaud is ready to make his Major League debut. One of Brandon Hicks and Omar Quintanilla will round out the bench as a middle infield reserve.
SS Ruben Tejada – Showed he’s more than capable of playing everyday
2B Daniel Murphy – Should contribute more power in 2013
3B David Wright – Contract extension should make him a Met for life
1B Ike Davis – Relishing the fresh start opening day will bring
RF Marlon Byrd – Trying to prove his worth in spring training
LF Lucas Duda – May be running out of opportunities to prove himself
C John Buck – Keeping the seat warm for Travis d’Arnaud
CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis – Will likely platoon with Collin Cowgill
LHP Johan Santana – Likely entering his final season as a Met
LHP Jon Niese – Quietly delivered a tremendous campaign in 2012
RHP Matt Harvey – Confidence is certainly not an issue
RHP Dillon Gee - Reliable and consistent back of the rotation starter
RHP Shaun Marcum – Should really help this team
RHP Frank Francisco – His job as the closer is not safe by any stretch of the imagination
RHP Bobby Parnell – Mets would love him to become their stopper
RHP Brandon Lyon – Brings backend experience to the relief corps
LHP Josh Edgin – Was fantastic after earning his first big league call-up
RHP Scott Atchison – Low risk pick-up offers tremendous upside
RHP LaTroy Hawkins – Experience is never a bad thing
LHP Pedro Feliciano – Health is the main concern