What Every Fan Needs to Know About the 2013 Mets Ahead of Spring Training
The reason why the impending baseball season could be bad news for the Mets and their fanbase is obvious: The current roster doesn't quite resemble that of a major league team.
We'll address some of the specific issues later on in this slideshow, but the general sentiment for Mets fans this season should be something like this: Expect a catastrophe, but hope for a miracle.
That's not a very uplifting mantra.
Just as they have done in recent years, Mets fans should taper their expectations.
Here you can find what every fan needs to know about the 2013 Mets heading into spring training, because after all, Port St. Lucie is just days away.
It's Going to Be a Tough One
Terry Collins' New York Mets exceeded experts' low expectations for 2012. Prior to the season, ESPN's Tim Kurkjian predicted that the team would finish last in the National League East, just as many other baseball analysts did. Fortunately for the Mets, none of Kurkjian's NL East predictions came true.
Now that we are a mere few weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting, pundits all throughout the baseball world believe that the Mets are going to have a worse season in 2013, which sounds about right, as the front office has yet to put together a major-league caliber outfield and will be hard-pressed to do so before Opening Day.
While the Mets have been shipping Cy Young winners north of the border and stockpiling their farm system with young arms, other teams have been planning for the now—sans the Miami Marlins, who might be the only team with a more frustrated fanbase than the Flushing faithful (that's if a fanbase still exists in Miami).
Don't make the mistake of convincing yourself otherwise: This is not a very good baseball team.
Last season's 74-88 record might be tough for this 2013 club to match, granted the outfield issues, as well as uncertainty in the starting rotation due to injury (Johan Santana and Dillon Gee) and the lack of a fifth starter.
Don't Get Your Hopes Up for the Prospects
There aren't many top prospects who burst onto the scene at 23 years old like Matt Harvey did on July 26, to the tune of 11 strikeouts in 5.1 shutout innings.
It's even less likely that each of the top-four prospects in a team's system pan out beautifully. Including Harvey, who is a shade above a prospect at this point, Zack Wheeler, Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard are considered four of the most valuable young assets the New York Mets have.
At just 22 years old, Wheeler went 12-8 in Double-A and Triple-A while posting a K/9-inning ratio of nearly nine.
He has been lauded for his electric stuff, but just like the latter two players on the above list, he likely won't be on the Opening Day roster due to contractual purposes, which would grant the Mets another year of player control if he is left in the minors for the first three weeks of the season.
Even when he makes it to the majors, expect the road to potential stardom to be bumpy for the 6'4", 185-pound righty.
The story is a bit different for d'Arnaud, as he has a history of injuries—a very disconcerting trend for a 23-year-old catching prospect. His minor league season ended early in 2012 when he tore his PCL in June. Luckily, there was no serious damage to his other major ligaments.
D'Arnaud is going to have his issues when he makes his MLB debut. He hit .333 in 67 games at Triple-A in 2012, but he will take some time to get acclimated to major-league pitching.
Speaking of getting acclimated, d'Arnaud will need ample experience with the pitching staff before he becomes comfortable.
Of all the players mentioned in this slide, Syndergaard is the wild card. We've heard that he has the potential to be a solid front-of-the-rotation starter, but we haven't seen enough of him yet to be sure.
At just 20 years old, one could say that Syndergaard is just as likely to fall off the map as he is to make it to the majors.
Get Over the Outfield Situation as Soon as Possible
The pool of players who general manager Sandy Alderson has to choose from this season is nothing short of laughable. There aren't many other ways to describe the outfield depth, or lack thereof, that the New York Mets will have to deal with in 2013.
If the team doesn't "splurge" to re-sign Scott Hairston, Lucas Duda—who is two months removed from wrist surgery—will be the only outfielder on the roster who has ever shown that he has the ability to play full time, and that might be wishful thinking given his well-documented struggles last season.
The best way for Mets fans to deal with this horrifying outfield situation is to get over it as soon as possible. Obviously, that is a disappointing way to look at a huge chunk of the team over two months prior to Opening Day, but it doesn't appear that this issue will be resolved this offseason.
This outfield is going to be one of the worst in baseball—even without Jason Bay failing to hit his own weight.
Collin Cowgill, Andrew Brown, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin, Mike Baxter and Brian Bixler are not encouraging names.
Hopefully they can field.
The Infield Will Produce
Don't let the pessimistic outlook on the outfield eliminate the optimism for the infield comprised of Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Ruben Tejada. The infield is going to produce both at the dish and in the field (except for Murphy in the latter).
Last season, Davis started the season with two of the worst months of hitting that New York Mets fans have ever seen. Despite hitting .185 in April and .154 in May, Davis put together a fine season to lead the team with 32 homers and 90 RBI. A full season without Valley Fever can't hurt.
You know what you're going to get out of Murphy. He's going to hit somewhere between .290 and .310 and at times play ugly, but overall, he will have a fairly serviceable defense and act as a solid 2-hitter for a lineup who desperately needs one. His lack of power is alarming, but his 40 doubles made up for that in 2012.
In the case of Tejada, it looks like he will be a good fit for the Mets for the next few seasons. He plays impressive defense and showed an ability to get on base at the top of the order before injuries derailed his breakout season.
Wright is more of an enigma than any other infielder on the roster. Over the last four years, the face of the franchise has carried the team for one half of the season but not in the other.
In 2009, Wright hit .324 with 44 RBI before the All-Star break but just .279 with 28 after. His 2010 season was more of the same, as he posted a .314 average and drove in 65 runs prior to the break, only to see his production fall to .244 and 38 RBI in the second half.
The next season was the reverse, as the third baseman hit .226 in the first half (in just 146 plate appearances) then turned it around after the All-Star break by hitting .272.
Everybody knows what happened last season when Wright tore the cover off the ball, and hit .351 before the break but hit just .258 in the second half.
Who knows which Wright the Mets will get come Opening Day?