5 Players Who Will Help the New York Mets Succeed in 2013
Fred and Jeff Wilpon May Be Close to Having a Winner
The New York Mets go into the 2013 MLB season with a payroll around $95 million, which for most teams would be enough to put a very competitive team on the field. In New York, however, that sum is not necessarily going to cut it when you are in the same town as the New York Yankees. While the Mets may not be expected to bring home a World Series title this year, here are five players that might have a different opinion about just where they will end up in the standings.
We already know what to expect from most, if not all, of the Mets position players and pitchers. Understand that 3B David Wright, 1B Ike Davis, SS Ruben Tejada and P Jonathan Niese will be on par with their stats from a year ago. That is the good sign for the Mets. Mets fans also hope that players such as 2B Daniel Murphy, P Josh Edgin, C John Buck and OF Mike Baxter can be contributors in 2013, and not a detriment to the team's progress.
What all Mets fans live on, however, is the mantra of 'You Gotta Believe.' No matter what anyone's foregone conclusion about the state of the Mets is, there is always hope for a better season than anticipated. Remember that the Mets went to the World Series in 2000 with an outfield that consisted of Timo Perez, Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton. They provided good defense, but were not necessarily world beaters.
These five players, with a healthy and productive year at their respective positions, may just help the Mets to be better than anyone could have imagined. Baseball is the most individual of team sports, and with the attitudes and possibilities for these players to succeed, 2013 may bring the Mets closer to their ultimate goals sooner, rather than later.
Parnell Will Be Key For Bullpen
Bobby Parnell in one facet or another will be a key player to keep your eye on in 2013. With closer Frank Francisco sidelined for the time being, Parnell has been given the nod once again as the one to shut down games for the Mets. In 2012, he was given the opportunity and relatively succeeded in his limited chances to actually close a game. He ended last season with a 2.49ERA and his ground ball rate should be better this year with better pitch selection.
Whether he is a closer or eighth inning set-up man, the late innings will be his to command. With a legitimate two-seam fastball and an above average curve, Parnell has honed his skills and is ready for a breakout year. Parnell, with a good spring, could actually unseat Francisco for the closing role during the season, and if that happens, the Mets will be far better than expected.
Sky is the Limit for Duda
We all know how Lucas Duda went from starting left field to triple-A in 2012 because of his slow-footed ways and penchant to not have good at-bats. But what we also know is that the sky is the limit for Duda because of the possibility of being a power bat in the middle of a lineup. Duda slugged 15 HR and 57 RBI in 2012, but only had a .239 average while going through a 30 game stretch that saw him only bat .200 which was what led to his demotion.
The issue for Duda is that because he is a risk defensively in the outfield, he needs to improve his plate appearance in order to stay in the lineup. This season, if he is able to improve those stats to say, .270 with 25 HR and 75 RBI then at least the Mets may find that the lineup will be powerful enough to keep them in games. Duda also has to improve on last year's minus-18 defensive runs saved as an outfielder which left him as one of the worst fielders in the game.
Can Kirk Be a Productive Leadoff Hitter?
While Sandy Alderson was not able to bring in a quality outfielder in the free agent market, manager Terry Collins will have to make due with what he has. That leaves Kirk Nieuwenhuis as the starting center fielder and potentially the lead-off hitter with a good spring. Last season, Nieuwenhuis was injured after being demoted to triple-A for his inability to catch up to major league fastballs, and only had 282 at-bats with the Mets. The good news is that Nieuwenhuis saw 4.21 pitches per plate appearance, which would have ranked him fourth in the NL.
That patience, to go along with the ability to hit home runs and be a good defensive outfielder should go a long way in progressing this year. Look for Nieuwenhuis to improve this season if he can stay on the field and be a welcome surprise for the Mets in their quest to prove that their outfield is not as bad as most would think. If he can set the tone at the top of the order, that would allow Collins to stretch the batting order and have a productive 2013.
Santana's Leadership Will Be Welcome
It is no doubt that Johan Santana would love to have a quality 2013 campaign and be a factor in the Mets season, rather than a detriment, which he wound up becoming after his no-hitter on June 1 last year. With his bulldog mentality and his leadership skills, the Mets would be ecstatic to see him have a full season in their starting rotation. Even though he was highly ineffective after the no-no, Santana still recorded an 8.54 K/9 in 2012, which was his highest since 2007 with the Minnesota Twins.
This year, Santana comes into spring training healthy and ready to be the number one again, although Alderson announced today that his first Grapefruit League appearance was pushed back two weeks. No concern, however, as he states that Santana is not injured. Precaution is the key with Santana, and if this move will help the southpaw for the long run, then 2013 may be a good year. The Mets need Santana's drive and competitiveness on the field as well as in the clubhouse to help young pitchers such as Matt Harvey, Jonathan Niese and Dillon Gee make that next leap. A 15 win season is not that far-fetched, and it all begins with another opening day start against the San Diego Padres.
Harvey's Attitude Will Spread Like Wildfire
Finally, we get to the best progression that could elevate the Mets in 2013: Matt Harvey. The right-hander is a welcome sight because of the promise of years to come for the Mets. He is a hard thrower who proved that he belonged in the majors last season with a mid-90's fastball, a .200 BAA and a very respectable 2.73ERA in 10 starts. Add to that the mental toughness and high standards he sets for himself and others, and it is difficult not to like this young pitcher.
One thing that Harvey will hone this spring is his command of all of his pitches, and that will be just the beginning of hopefully a long career. Harvey will benefit from Santana's presence, while hopefully taking the number one spot in the rotation beginning in 2014. He will be a natural leader among a pitching staff that could be one of the best in the majors this season. The best attribute that Harvey will showcase will be his refusal to keep losing and his vision for the future as seen in one of his recent tweets:
@tommyc325 200+ healthy innings and a nice big world series ring and trophy to bring home to NYC— Matt Harvey (@MattHarvey33) February 21, 2013