By Steven Inman

David Wright and Daniel Murphy will once again be relied upon to carry the Mets lineup Photo by NY Post

David Wright and Daniel Murphy will once again be relied upon to carry the Mets lineup
Photo by NY Post

It is almost here, the greatest day of the year, Opening Day. Just 48 hours from now we will be enjoying Mets baseball once again. So now it is time to breakdown their upcoming season.

Infield: The infield is the only part of the team that Sandy Alderson didn’t address this winter. Ike Davis likely gets the first crack at being the lefty platoon at first base with Josh Satin. With the team going to play the LA Angels in the second week of the season they will need a DH so Lucas Duda should still see plenty of at-bats early on in April.  Having three first basemen on the roster certainly hurts Terry Collins’ roster flexibility which may need to be addressed at some point.

Ruben Tejada is still here and looks to be the guy at shortstop despite a poor 2013 season and a rough Spring Training to say the least. Wilmer Flores with a strong spring has put himself in a position to be Plan B at shortstop despite being sent to the minors. Omar Quintanilla will make the team as the backup middle infielder.

Travis d’Arnaud goes into the season with a lot to prove but is still just a rookie. He was having a rough spring with the bat until this past week so it looks like he is getting hot at the perfect time for New York. Many expect him to compete for Rookie of the Year in the National League. He likely will start the year down near the bottom of the order.

Obviously the Mets have two quality hitters at third base and second base with David Wright and Daniel Murphy respectively. The duo just needs to stay healthy as they will be expected to continue to anchor the Mets lineup. Murphy needs to improve upon his OBP if he wants to stay a Met long-term.

Outfield: The Mets spent most of their offseason budget on their outfield which looks to have improved. Curtis Granderson was an overpay coming off a lost year but he will certainly help give David Wright protection and put less pressure on guys like Ike Davis and Travis d’Arnaud who can bat lower in the lineup now.

Chris Young is the X-Factor for this Mets team. He is coming off a lost year for the AL West champion Athletics but has looked very good offensively and defensively this spring. He doesn’t have the elite outfield arm he once had but is still a good outfielder. It will be important for him to adjust to Citi Field’s unique dimensions quickly especially playing in a corner outfield spot, a position he isn’t all that familiar with. Young was given a 1-year “prove it” contract so he has a lot to prove to not just the Mets but to all of baseball this season. He was still given $7.25 million however and for a team like the Mets with a very small payroll ($87 million) they badly need him to produce. When Eric Young Jr. is in the lineup Chris Young will bat 5th and when Juan Lagares is in the lineup Chris Young will likely bat leadoff. Lagares should play every day as his defense is just too good to keep on the bench. There has been a power struggle between Collins and Sandy Alderson on which outfielder should play more. Collins wants EY Jr. in their as he doesn’t believe anyone else can hit leadoff on this team. Both outfielders should see a lot of playing time.

Starting Rotation: Obviously the talk about the Mets starting rotation is about the guy who isn’t here and that is Matt Harvey. He expects to be back before September but it would be very irresponsible for the Mets to let Harvey rush back like that. Besides who know if they will even be in the race that long. At the top of the Mets rotation is a pair of strike throwers in Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon. Both have looked good this spring and could be ready for big seasons.

As the only left-hander on the staff Jon Niese must stay healthy if the team has any desire to stay in contention. Zack Wheeler continues to fly under the radar and if he can throw enough strikes, could be a candidate for the All-Star team in Minnesota this season. Wheeler has a dynamic arm. Daisuke Matsuzaka will start the year in the minors but will be used as rotation depth if Jenrry Mejia struggles in the fifth spot or gets injured.

Bobby Parnell has lacked the velocity he needs to be an effective closer Photo by NY Daily News

Bobby Parnell has lacked the velocity he needs to be an effective closer
Photo by NY Daily News

Bullpen: The Mets bullpen is their biggest weakness and will likely become their downfall this season. It all starts with the closer and Bobby Parnell doesn’t look like the same guy that was an All-Star candidate last summer. His velocity is down big and the team is already talking about him not pitching anything more than back to back games. Jose Valverde will be relied on to start the year as the 8th inning guy. He is an older pitcher and is a prime suspect for overuse to start the season should he have a few successful outings. Remember this is a guy who was released by Detroit last season, a team that was desperate for bullpen help.

Scott Rice will be depended on heavily as well after a strong rookie campaign. He is also a suspect for overuse as he was overused badly by Collins in 2013 and scouts have all said his velocity has been down as well. John Lannan will hope to assist Rice in the lefty specialist role, a role that Lannan has no experience in. Jeurys Familia has an elite arm and it would a major surprise if he isn’t near the back end of the bullpen by Memorial Day, likely as the 8th inning guy. Collins wants to ease Familia into that role.

Bench: The Mets bench will be very interchangeable. It will include one of EY Jr./ Lagares and two of Satin/Davis/Duda. It also will have backup catcher Anthony Recker as well as Omar Quintanilla. Andrew Brown is expected to make the team as the 5th outfielder until they need the roster spot for Jon Niese.

Prospects: The Mets have many prospects that will make their major league debuts in 2014. Unfortunately due to service time, none will make their debuts any time soon. Rafael Montero is the pitcher closest to the big leagues but likely won’t be up until mid-June for arbitration purposes. The same goes for Noah Syndergaard. We have already seen Wilmer Flores but the infielder will be up after the first infield injury or if Tejada struggles. He is not in the minors because of service time simply to get an opportunity to play every day. Jack Leathersich is a left-handed reliever the team thinks can get big league lefties out soon.

Projection: 80-82 Third Place This Met team looks better than the past few years because of depth. If they lose a starter early on in the season they don’t have to go to an Aaron Laffey or someone like him. They have legitimate pitching prospects in the system. The N.L. East is not what it once was but the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves both have much more talent than the Mets currently. Also if the Mets find themselves in it at the trade deadline, do they have the money to go take on a contract to go get the hitter they likely will need? The Mets are improving but this doesn’t look to be their year.

Strengths: Starting pitching, Depth

Weaknesses: Bullpen, Shortstop, Payroll flexibility

Breakout Candidates: Travis d’Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee

Regression Candidates: Jon Niese, All of the first basemen, Curtis Granderson, Bobby Parnell

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. New York Mets
  4. Philadelphia Phillies
  5. Miami Marlins
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Comments
  1. […] Sandy Alderson has been in charge of the Mets for four years now and the bullpens he has put together have always been the worst or close to the worst in baseball. That is actually really hard to do. Somehow this pen may be even worse than in years past. We wrote in our Mets season preview that this bullpen would wind up ending their season eventually but they looked even worse than originally thought today. You can check out that Mets preview here. […]

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