Advantages the Mets Have Over NL East Foes Heading into Next Year

Vinny Messana@v1nsaneCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2012

Advantages the Mets Have Over NL East Foes Heading into Next Year

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    If you only listen to the perception of the Mets from the outside, you would be inclined to think the team is light years away from brighter days.

    That is because the Mets have not created a positive representation of themselves over the past few seasons, mired in scandals and lawsuits.

    There should not be such a negative outlook on the seasons ahead, however, assuming players progress at their current rate of growth.

    Here are five advantages the Mets have over their NL East foes heading into next season.

They Possess a Legitimately Deep Pitching Staff

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    Many cynics will be quick to point out that the Mets cannot realistically count on R.A. Dickey to duplicate his 2012 performance—which featured 20 victories and a 2.73 ERA—next season.

    That is fair to say, but the Mets may not need him to in order to post a successful season.

    It appears that Jon Niese has turned a corner in his career and become a reliable middle of the rotation pitcher that could post 15 wins with the support of a better offense.

    Prior to this season he had not shown the ability to maintain his stamina throughout the season, but in 2012 his second-half ERA was 3.01.

    Matt Harvey has the makings of a top of the rotation ace, armed with a formidable arsenal of pitches as well as an assassin's mentality.

    The rest of the rotation will have a bit of a drop off, considering the durability issues surrounding former ace Johan Santana, who is coming off his first sub .500 season since 2000.

    The Mets no longer count on him to provide 200 innings of sub 3.00 ERA, which makes him more than sufficient as a No. 4 starter.

    Dillon Gee will complete the rotation. He had season-ending surgery to repair artery damage in his pitching shoulder in July. He told Fast Life that he will "definitely be a full 100 percent ready at spring training".

    That is certainly encouraging news for the Mets, considering Gee has proven to be a competent back-end pitcher in the rotation with the ability to pitch late into games.

    This is the way the Mets will most likely begin the season, and they will have plenty of depth with their bevy of Triple-A pitchers such as Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Collin McHugh available.

    Are they the best starting five in the NL? No, but they should be able to enable the Mets to compete all season in the East.

    The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals have better rotations at the time, but the Mets may enter the discussion next season.

They Have an Infusion of Prospects on the Horizon

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    The pitching prospects are the ones who have gotten the most publicity among inner circles, but the Mets do have some high-ceiling bats in the system that could make an impact in the near future.

    Obviously, Wilmer Flores made a name for himself in 2012 by winning the Sterling Organizational Player of the Year Award. His 18 home runs showed that he has finally developed power to go along with his natural stroke that enabled him to hit .311 in 493 at bats. At 21-years-old, Flores could be ready to contribute in 2013.

    The first-round picks of 2011 and 2012, Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini, are still a couple years away from the big leagues, but they have displayed their ability, which gives the Mets' fans reason to be optimistic about the young talent for years to come.

    The team will be looking for 2012 second-round pick Kevin Plawecki to develop quickly, considering the team's struggles behind the plate. In his first year of professional ball, he smacked seven home runs in 61 games for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

    While Zack Wheeler is the household name among Mets prospects, these sluggers can help Terry Collins' squad win in the near future.

    Among teams in the NL East, the Mets may have the most depth in the minor leagues, as most of the clubs traded away many pieces to acquire talent at the big league level recently.

Their Best Players Will Be Locked Up Long-Term

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    This is operating under the assumption that the Mets will re-sign both David Wright and R.A. Dickey very soon, as reports have indicated.

    Both of these players have suffered through some of the worst times in franchise history, but have proven enough individually that they should be part of the solution.

    It is vital to lock up the best players in order to prevent them from becoming upset with ownership. By allowing Wright and Dickey to enter the season without long-term deals would force them to believe the team believes they are expendable.

    Granted, the team has not won a pennant with either of them, but they would be even more deplorable without their services.

    While the Mets are the team with the financial crisis on their hands, the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins have corroded their teams with bad contracts recently, giving them less flexibility.

Sandy Alderson Has a Track Record of Invigorating Franchises

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    While it may not be apparent so far, Sandy Alderson has brought teams from the doldrums into contention in the past.

    Alderson made a name for himself during his tenure with the Oakland Athletics. It took him a few years, but he was able to transform the club from a mediocre team to a powerhouse in half a decade by building the farm system.

    Baseball fans may be familiar with names such as Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, two of the players he developed. Them, along with Walt Weiss all won AL Rookie of the Year Awards, and they won back-to-back-to-back AL pennants.

    Alderson was the GM of the club until 1997.

    He also transformed the San Diego Padres organization when he took over in 2005. He took them from a third place finish to consecutive NL West titles in '05 and '06.

    He took over for the Mets prior to the 2011 season, and while the team has struggled through sub .500 seasons, he has built a core of players that will ultimately bring the type of sustainable winning that Omar Minaya could not through his "band-aid" tactics of acquiring players to fill the needs of the previous year.

    Alderson is a shrewd, intelligent and savvy business man who was dealt a tough hand but will provide the fans with something to cheer about in the new future.

    He has the most credentials of any GM in the NL East, and it will prove to be a difference maker beginning in 2013.

Their Core Is Young and Improving

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    This is an advantage they have over Philadelphia, considering their best players are all in their 30s and near the end of their prime.

    The Mets, along with the remaining three teams in the East, have a solid core of players in their 20s, which means that the division should remain strong over the next decade or so.

    New York has the potential to have the best group of young players if Ruben Tejada, Matt Harvey and Ike Davis continue to progress in their careers.

    Obviously, Washington owns the best duo with Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, but in terms of depth it could ultimately favor the Mets if the second-tier players such as Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda put their skills to fruition.