5 Encouraging Signs for the New York Mets Heading into 2013
There are definitely some of you reading this and wondering how a team that has yet to sign a major league free agent could have had any encouraging signs this off-season.
I don't blame you.
The team is clearly still in a rebuilding mode and has made no indications of preparing to contend in 2013, but that is not to say that the organization has not taken steps to improve the future of the team.
So while it's fully acceptable to prepare yourself now for another season of heartbreak, know that brighter times do in fact lie ahead, and that in a few years we will all remember how it feels to matter in the baseball world.
Re-Signing David Wright to a Long-Term Extension
The team has been miserable for the past six seasons, and almost all of their biggest stars have either been traded or fled New York in pursuit of a contending team and bigger contract.
So while eight years and $138 million is a steep price for a third baseman that just turned 30, think of what Wright means to the team. He's easily the face of the franchise, their only hitter that batted above .300 last year, holds numerous organization records, and has played through injury and fatigue when everyone else around him quit.
Even if it meant handing him a blank check to fill in, the Mets had to keep Wright and they did. Hopefully, this is a sign of their intentions to win in the near future.
Addition by Subtraction for Position Players
Though the organization hasn't signed a major league free agent yet, the Mets improved simply by getting rid of players that killed them in 2012.
Andres Torres, Mike Nickeas, and Josh Thole, all of whom saw a fair amount of playing time last year, will be taking their talents elsewhere in 2013.
But just how bad were they?
Torres' one year with the Mets yielded a .230 average and three home runs.
Thole's decline was even sharper last season, hitting .234 with one home run and 21 runs batted in.
Nickeas was the worst of the three, batting .174 with one homer and 13 runs batted in.
No matter who replaces the three, Mets fans can be optimistic that results will be better.
The Acquisition of a Right-Handed Power Hitting Catcher
In a lineup overflowing with lefties, Josh Thole simply was clogging everything up. No power, no speed, and no different view for opposing pitchers was a huge problem for the Mets. The acquisition of Kelly Shoppach was beneficial for the end of the season, but the Mets needed a solution for 2013.
Through the RA Dickey deal, the Mets acquired John Buck, a catcher that struggled mightily in 2012 but still has the potential to hit for a respectable average with double-digit home runs. The right-handed hitting Buck has belted 48 home runs over the past three years, and hopefully has plenty more left in 2013.
They Got Younger
Although it was difficult to part ways with RA Dickey, Mets fans must realize that he was a 38 year-old knuckle baller with only a handful of good seasons left if he's lucky.
Coming off a Cy Young campaign, the Mets chose to sell high, which was undoubtedly the right decision.
Along with MLB ready John Buck, the Mets acquired the number one catching prospect in all of baseball, Travis d'Arnaud, as well as Noah Syndergaard, a 20 year-old right-hander with a mid-90's fastball and Wuilmer Becerra, a talented 18 year-old outfield prospect.
With David Wright in New York long-term, the team has great potential for the future.
They Have an Extremely Young and Talent Pitching Staff
Matt Harvey made an immediate impact on the Mets after his promotion last summer. The UNC product posted a 2.73 ERA over his first 60 big league innings, and he should only improve with time. Jon Niese got his highly anticipated extension last season, and at 25 years old, is just about to hit his prime. Dillon Gee's season ended early last year due to a blood clot, but he's a serviceable number four or five that will eat innings and give the team a chance to win every time he takes the mound.
Combined with Johan Santana's veteran presence, The Mets should have one of the best rotation's in the National League if this group of youngsters can live up to their potential.
And that's before even considering what's down on the farm. Zack Wheeler should be promoted to the MLB at some point this season, and talented arms Familia and Mejia should also make major impacts.