2014 MLB Team Preview: New York Mets

By Matthew Cafaro
PSDC Writer

New York Mets
Founded: 1962
Division Titles: 5
National League Pennants: 4
World Series Titles: 2 (1969, 1986) 

2013 Record: 74-88, 3rd Place in the NL East 
Key Losses: Johan Santana, Shaun Marcum, LaTroy Hawkins, Matt Harvey*
Key Additions: Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon, Chris Young

I want to point out that last year I predicted the Mets would finish with a record of 74-88. Which they did. Exactly so. So we now know something about me: I’m good at guessing how this particular baseball team would finish the 2013 season. Why couldn’t I have this power with guessing lottery numbers? Or NCAA brackets? Oh well. On to this year’s preview!

The 2013 New York Mets were a revelation in starting pitching talent. From some of their young pitchers, like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, greatness was expected and delivered. Speaking as a Braves fan, I was not expecting Dillon Gee’s ascension, which was a not-so-nice surprise for New York’s division rivals. Alas, the Mets’ pitching success was undone by a spate of injuries, the hardest to swallow being Harvey’s need for Tommy John surgery with the feared prognosis that he would not pitch at all in 2014.**

Although Harvey himself has stated it is his desire to pitch for the Amazins this season, he would do well to instead concentrate on his rehab and don’t push himself too hard by needlessly coming back early to a team that is not yet worthy of his great talents. Look what’s happened to the Mets’ hated NL East brothers, the Atlanta Braves, who saw the top of their rotation decimated days apart. With Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy both going back for their second Tommy John surgeries, the Mets now possess the second-best starting rotation in the NL East even without Harvey setting the pace. However, New York is sorely lacking at the plate, as they were last year, and for Harvey to rush back to this team, this year, would be pointless.

Last year New York only hit .237 with 140 home runs as a team, and even with the addition of the possible power the Grandy Man could add to the line up, the Mets don’t seem to be a lock to do much better than those numbers. The Mets would do well to follow the 2013 Atlanta Braves blueprint for success: Can’t hit? No problem. Pitch, pitch, pitch! The problem for New York is, unlike that 2013 Atlanta squad, their bullpen is nowhere close to having the kind of talent the Braves had and have. The Mets will live and die with their starters going deep into games. Bobby Parnell should be a decent enough closer, and as the SABR nerds tell us, a decent closer is all you need.***

For the Mets’ every day players, Daniel Murphy should continue to hit well in the 2-hole and provide solid defense up the middle. The question mark remains with his double play partner. There is a short stop in Stephen Drew still waiting for a team to offer him enough money, and if Ruben Tejada struggles to start the season, the Mets could make a move for him. The outfield should be improved defensively, and the trio of Eric Young, Chris Young and Curtis Granderson, if they all can return to a form more befitting their better years, they could do some damage on the base paths. Travis D’Arnaud looked to become the Mets’ catcher for the next decade, but although he calls a good game with good defense, his offense was Uggla-bad when he was called-up in the middle of last season. The Mets need him to hit at least .250 with 20 home runs for him to solidify himself behind the plate for this team for years to come.

There is some good news for the Mets, though: they have a true face of the franchise, and perhaps face of MLB, in David Wright. Wright is a guy who honestly wants to put on that blue and orange pinstriped uniform every day. Believe me when I say, that’s saying a lot. Well-respected players such as Wright act as magnets for other players who see a guy like him sticking around, and it could make a Jason Heyward or a Mike Trout want to play in Flushing Meadows, too.****

Yes, the Mets are still one or two years away from being able to add some major beef to their line-up, but they’re finally coming out the other side from the Wilpon-Madoff financial scandal, and the purse strings are being loosened little by little. Eventually, the hitting on this team will be able to catch up to the pitching, and in that cavern they call a ballpark, that’s going to make for some exciting ballgames.

With the injury and surgery to Harvey, 2014 looks as if it may be another lost season in Queens. Because of the strength of their starting rotation, I want to predict that the Mets will break their streak of five straight losing seasons, and if Harvey makes good on his promise to come back and pitch late in the year, they very well could. But I do not believe the Mets will allow him to do so. They’ll learn from the Braves allowing Brandon Beachy to come back too early, and they will keep Harvey on the shelf for 2014, as they should, looking towards 2015. Who knows, after another round of free agency, this Mets team could well and truly be a contender in 2015 for the first time since the Piazza years.*****

So, in the end, I have to end this preview with a refrain bitterly familiar to the many fans of the Orange and Blue:

Wait ‘til next year, Mets fans.

Probable Line-up, Rotation & Main Bullpen: 

1. Eric Young (LF)
2. Daniel Murphy (2B)
3. David Wright (3B)
4. Curtis Granderson (RF)
5. Ike Davis (1B)
6. Chris Young (CF)
7. Travis D’Arnaud (C)
8. Ruben Tejada (SS) 

SP. Bartolo Colon
SP. Zach Wheeler
SP. Dillon Gee
SP. Jon Niese
SP. Jenry Mejia 

As it was last year, the Mets’ bullpen remains a question mark. Kyle Farnsworth, Scott Rice and Jose Valverde will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting to get the ball to closer Bobby Parnell, who had his 2013 season cut short by neck surgery.

Predicted 2013 Record: 80-82, 3rd Place in the NL East 

* Lost for the 2014 season due to injury. 

** If that injury was a penance to pay for breaking Tim Hudson’s ankle which ended his Atlanta career, and causing the Braves to miss out on the No. 1 seed in the NL Playoffs thanks to breaking Jason Heyward’s jaw, then I say… nope… still not enough pain for Mets fans. 

*** Unless you have Craig Kimbrell, the best closer in all of baseball three years running. 

**** Providing the money is very, very right. 

***** Speaking of Mike Piazza, it is a crime against baseball that he is not in the Hall of Fame. There’s never been more than the most insidious, deceitful innuendo that he did PEDs, but unlike with Bonds, McGwire, Clemens and others (including Bagwell), there isn’t even a shred of anectdotal evidence that he used. Mike Piazza should be in the Hall of Fame. He should have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. That he is not is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the idiot who didn’t vote for Greg Maddux because of steroids. Yeah. A soft-body like Maddux and steroids. [shakes head and walks away from keyboard]

Follow Matthew on Twitter at: @HistoryofMatt

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