New York Mets: Baseball Spring Training Preview
Today, our baseball spring training preview examines the New York Mets. The Mets were likely to have contended this season, but the loss of ace Matt Harvey puts them a year behind schedule. Despite missing the last six weeks of last season, Harvey still finished fourth in the Cy Young award voting, after striking out 191 batters, and posting a 2.27 ERA. This is a crippling loss, and has diminished the team’s chances of being serious competitors in the NL East this season.
It does not mean they cannot compete however. The Washington Nationals showed that they are vulnerable, and the Atlanta Braves suffered two key departures from last year, and have two key members on the DL to start out the season. This can clearly open the door for the Mets.
The Mets have some challenges to overcome. They have had five consecutive losing seasons, and there was just one player that hit 20 HR last season. They are not a dominant offensive team, and some of their key players are aging. They have a strong rotation without Harvey, after adding 18-game winner Bartolo Colon, and some youngsters should show more promise this year.
There is one thing that is for sure. GM Sandy Alderson is a whiz at finding talent at just the right time. Alderson resurrected the careers of R. A. Dickey and Carlos Beltran, and then was able to deal them both for key pieces on this year’s team. It seems like most of the acquisitions he has made have turned up as gems, and there is great hope that the signings of Curtis Granderson, Colon, and Chris Young will be just as shrewd.
|Bartolo Colon – RHP
Curtis Granderson – OF
Ryan Reid – RHP
Chris Young – OF
|Aaron Harang – RHP
LaTroy Hawkins – RHP
Omar Quintanilla – INF
Johan Santana – LHP
Manager: Terry Collins, Seasons: 10, with Mets: 4. Career Record: 669-695.
Collins has quietly established himself as a solid manager. He is a great tactician during the game, knowing when and how to make key moves to give his team its best chance to win. He is highly respected by his players, and they work hard for him.
With some serious inspiration, he can get this team to the playoffs. It is going to take a lot of his managerial skills to make that happen, but Collins generally knows how to get the most out of the talent his players have.
Catcher: Travis d’Arnaud, Anthony Recker
Travis d’Arnaud was one of the key pieces of the Dickey trade to Toronto, but he struggled last season. He broke his foot, which limited his time on the field, and limited his effectiveness. In 99 AB he hit just .202, but the Mets are very high on him. He had 16 HR at AAA in 2012.
Recker is a big kid, who stands 6-2, 240. He hit .215 in 135 AB, but hit 6 HR.
First Base: Ike Davis, Lucas Duda
Both Davis and Duda have power. It is more likely that Duda will be the one who wins this job. Neither one showed a great deal of ability to hit for average (Duda hit .215 and Davis hit .205). Duda showed some impressive power, hitting 15 HR in 318 AB. Davis hit nine in one less at bat. Both are capable first baseman.
Second Base: Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores
Murphy showed he is a quality hitter, by hitting .286, with 13 HR and 78 RBI. He also scored 92 runs, and showed his prowess on the bases, by stealing 23 bases in just 26 chances. He hit .306 in September, and his line-drive style of hitting is perfect for the number two spot in this order.
Flores is the better defender, but he lacks as much range as Murphy and has nowhere near the hitting ability that Murphy has.
Shortstop: Ruben Tejada
Tejada struggled last year, and found himself demoted to AAA Las Vegas for much of last season. He hit just .202 in 57 games, and seems to have lost his way. He appeared at spring training last season out of condition, and showed a poor work ethic. This spring his attitude seems to have changed, which bodes well for a turnaround season for him.
Third Base: David Wright, Josh Satin
Wright is the key to this team. If the Mets are going to win, he must remain healthy, something he has not been able to manage much lately. He hit .307, with 18 HR and 58 RBI in 112 games last season, and is always a solid defender. If he can approach 150 games, and hit 25 HR and 100 RBI, the Mets could be a serious contender in this division.
Satin, who can also play first base, showed he may need to be given a chance to play every day. He hit .279 with three HR in 75 games, plus he had a .376 OBP. It may become difficult to keep him on the bench.
Outfield: Eric Young, Andrew Brown, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Chris Young, Matt den Dekker
Granderson missed most of last season, playing in just 61 games, after going on the DL twice, once for a broken forearm, and the other time for a broken finger. In the two previous years he had at least 40 HR and 100 RBI, and there is no reason to believe that he cannot reach these numbers again, now that he is healthy. There is no worries about him handling the New York media, considering that he came from the Yankees.
Chris Young is a former 27 HR hitter for the Arizona Diamondbacks (in 2010), but he struggled mightily for the Athletics last year, hitting .200, with 12 HR and 40 RBI. This is an Alderson project, he hopes that he can turn around.
Lagares showed he is ready to play CF as the regular for the Mets. He only hit .242 with 30 extra base hits in a little under 400 AB, but he is an amazing defensive player. He has a very strong arm, and was second in outfield assists, despite the fact that he only played in 97 games.
Eric Young led the NL in stolen bases last season, with 46, and also scored 48 runs in 91 games.
Projected Batting Order:
|Juan Lagares- CF||.242||35||4||34||6|
|Daniel Murphy – 2B||.286||92||13||78||23|
|David Wright – 3B||.307||63||18||58||17|
|Curtis Granderson – LF||.229||31||7||15||8|
|Lucas Duda – 1B||.223||42||15||33||0|
|Chris Young – RF||.200||46||12||40||10|
|Travis d’Arnaud – C||.202||4||1||5||0|
|Ruben Tejada – SS||.202||20||0||10||2|
Starting Rotation: Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon, Jonathon Niese, Jendrry Mejia
Wheeler showed he has the stuff to be an ace one day. He made 17 starts last season, going 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA. He has great stuff, and should only get better. When Harvey returns, he and Wheeler should make an awesome one-two punch.
Gee led the team in several categories including wins (12) and IP (199). He finished with a 3.62 ERA, but had some stats that worry the Mets. He gave up 208 hits in those 199 IP, and also surrendered 24 HR.
Colon pitched for the Athletics last year, and had his best season in quite some time. He finished with a 2.65 ERA, and was 18-6. His stats may have been better, but he slumped a bit as suspensions were being handed out for the Biogenesis PED use. It seemed he was concerned that he may receive a suspension as well. This did not happen, and he turned things around to close out the season.
Niese returned from a rotator cuff tear, and looked like is ready to get back to form. He finished 8-8 with a 3.71 ERA, and one shutout.
Mejia needs to prove to Mets management that he can handle pitching at least 6 innings per start. Something he was not able to do last season. He made five starts last season, and showing flashes of brilliance. He finished with a 2.30 ERA, but was only able to pitch 27.1 innings in those five starts, despite only giving up 32 base runners.
Projected Starting Rotation:
Bullpen: Vic Black, Gonzalez German, Scott Rice, Carlos Torres, Bobby Parnell
Parnell will begin the season on the DL, after needing surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck. He did a great job closing out games for the Mets last season, saving 22 games, and having a WHIP of 1.00. He regularly hits 100 mph on the gun, and his return will be big.
Black will fill in for Parnell until he returns. He appeared in 15 games for the Mets last year, but won 3 games, and struck on 15 in 13 innings. The main concern on him is that he likes to nibble at batters too much, instead of going right after them.
Rice appeared in 73 games for the Mets last season. He had 13 minor league seasons prior to his call up by the Mets, which included 7 different organizations. He pitched in 73 games, and had a respectable 3.71 ERA.
It is hard to say that one player can have so much impact on a baseball team, but Wright may be the only exception. There is no other hitter on this team that will strike fear into opponents, and so it is critical that he is healthy and able to go. If so, this can be a competitive team.
The Mets have a good starting rotation. They are not as good as the Nationals or the Braves, but they are solid. They have only two guys that have pitched above or near 200 innings before, so it will be interesting to see if the other three can handle a full season making 30 starts. If not, the Mets will be in big trouble.
The return of Harvey next season will position this team to be a big time competitor. Until then, they are a middle of the road team.
New York Mets Spring Training Baseball Preview: Expected Finish: Third Place.
Tomorrow we examine the Atlanta Braves.
Yesterday we looked at the Philadelphia Phillies.
Commentary by Robert Pannier