2014 New York Mets Season Preview
New York Mets 2014 Season Preview
With pitchers and catchers reporting to camp, the unofficial beginning of the 2014 season is upon us. As is the case for the other 29 teams in baseball, optimism is running high in Port St. Lucie, Spring Training home of the New York Mets. While the Mets will be without their ace pitcher Matt Harvey for the better part of the season, if not the whole thing, there's still hope that several other players can pick up the slack.
New York hasn't made the playoffs since 2006 and the team has endured a lengthy rebuilding process that is finally starting to bear fruit. The farm system, which was consistently ignored under previous regimes, has been rebuilt into one of the league's most promising and the Mets hope to see some of their young players take the next step this season.
General Manager Sandy Alderson was finally given the go ahead by the team's owners to spend some money this offseason, perhaps not coincidentally after Johan Santana and Jason Bay's massive deals finally fell off the books. The team imported Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young via free agency and hopes that the three will provide a veteran presence in what is a very young locker room.
Even though the team did improve in many areas, many questions still remain. Fans and ownership alike are hopeful that the team can take the next step towards contention this season and it'll certainly be interesting to watch. What follows is an analysis of each unit of the team, and what you can expect from them going into this season.
This is one of the areas on the diamond that the Mets hope to get a big boost off of last season with top prospect Travis d'Arnaud taking over the reins full time from last year's stopgap, John Buck. When healthy, d'Arnaud offers a rare combination of offensive and defensive prowess that not too many current catchers possess. Of course, the question remains: can he stay healthy? d'Arnaud has missed the better part of the last two seasons with injuries and, at 25 years old, the time is now for him to prove he can stay on the field.
The expectation was that the Mets would move one of Ike Davis or Lucas Duda this offseason, but here we are in February, and they're both still on the roster. Both players are coming off disappointing seasons and it's anyone's guess as to who the team prefers. While Davis offers more raw power and a better glove, his inconsistency can be maddening. Duda, in turn, needs to be more aggressive at the plate. Utility man Josh Satin could also find himself some starts at first, in a platoon situation, but either Davis or Duda will get the lion's share of ABs and will have to rebuild their value.
Daniel Murphy opens the season as the second baseman, a position he was surprisingly adept at handling last season after playing first base and third base his entire life. Murphy's hard work led to him being passable defensively and, although he'll never be an on base machine or a power hitter, he's one of the best pure hitters on the team and is likely to hit somewhere near the top of the order.
Right now, Ruben Tejada looks like the Opening Day shortstop, but there has been a clamoring for the team to sign Stephen Drew after Tejada's abysmal 2013 campaign. The Mets don't have much in the way of replacements should Tejada struggle again, so it's imperative that the youngster put last year behind him and try to replicate his 2012 season.
David Wright is the captain and face of the franchise. He's definitively the best player on the Mets roster and, for the Mets to have any shot at contention this season, he must stay healthy. When healthy, Wright's a good bet to post a .900+ OPS and provide Gold Glove caliber defense.
This is the area where the Mets figure to see the most improvement, even without Marlon Byrd's surprise 2013 production. The Mets inked both Curtis Granderson and Chris Young to deals in free agency and will get a full season in center from defensive wizard Juan Lagares. While Granderson's power may be affected moving from the short porch in Yankee Stadium to the vast expanses of Citi Field, he'll still be one of the better power threats the Mets have employed in recent years. Young will look to rebound from two consecutive down seasons and his namesake, Eric Young, Jr., also figures to factor into the mix after leading the NL in stolen bases last season.
Even without Matt Harvey, the Mets rotation figures to be one of the team's strengths. With Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee and new signing Bartolo Colon occupying four of the five rotation slots, New York expects its pitching to keep it in most contests. Jenrry Mejia is the early favorite to fill out the rotation, but there are several other candidates, including top prospect Rafael Montero, who will look to take the job from him.
This unit has come back to bite the Mets countless times in the last few seasons and will be heavily scrutinized going into this year. Closer Bobby Parnell is coming off surgery on his neck and, although the team signed Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde to minor league deals, most of the bullpen figures to consist of young, power arms from the Mets system. Whether or not the Mets can find adequate bridges from the starters to Parnell will be one of the keys to this season.
Prediction: 80-82, 3rd place in the NL East