With spring training right around the corner, and the Mets' pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Port St. Lucie in less than three weeks, it's time to start getting ready for the Mets 2013 season.
The Mets have had a quiet, but busy offseason. The highlight of the offseason was the Mets' blockbuster trade that sent reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, plus catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas, to the Blue Jays in exchange for Travis D'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard and John Buck, among others.
Here are my spring training scouting reports and 2013 statistical projections on each of the Mets' pitchers and catchers on the current roster.
The centerpiece of the Mets' big offseason trades, Travis D'Arnaud is expected to be the Mets' catcher of the future and possibly a cornerstone player in a short amount of time.
D'Arnaud has yet to see any major league action. He was drafted by the Phillies in 2007, but got traded to the Blue Jays prior to the 2010 season in the deal that sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies. Since then, D'Arnaud has spent the past three seasons in the Blue Jays' minor league system.
This year should, and most likely will be, the year in which D'Arnaud finally gets to play in the major leagues. He could make the Mets roster out of spring training, but could also spend a month or two in the minor leagues developing a bit further. Time will tell whether the Mets decide to have him as their Opening Day starting catcher or to wait until late April or May to call him up.
D'Arnaud is an above-average hitter for a catcher and should certainly provide more offense than any Mets catcher has since Paul LoDuca's 2006 season. The goal of 20-25 home runs should be reasonable for D'Arnaud, as well as 85-100 RBI over a full season. D'Arnaud should also be capable of hitting at least close to .300, based on his career .286 minor league average.
If D'Arnaud stays healthy, he could be a great catcher for years to come. The Mets have been well known over the years for possessing some of the best catchers of their respective eras. This includes Jerry Grote, John Stearns, Gary Carter, Todd Hundley and Mike Piazza, who had all spent a significant number of seasons with the Mets. D'Arnaud has the potential to continue this great trend for Mets catchers.
2013 Projections: .287 Average, 23 Home Runs, 91 RBI, .348 OBP
John Buck was acquired by the Mets to be their new backup catcher and possible starting catcher on Opening Day in case D'Arnaud begins the season in the minor leagues.
Buck had the worst season of his career in 2012. He batted only .192 and had 12 home runs and 41 RBI with the Marlins. His struggles certainly did not help his cause when he got less playing time in the second half of the season.
This past November, Buck was traded to the Blue Jays in the big trade that also sent former teammates Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes, among others, to the Blue Jays as well. About a month later, Buck was dealt to the Mets.
Hopefully, Buck can have a bounce-back season as he tries to redeem himself from his poor 2012 season. He will provide decent power as a backup catcher once D'Arnaud is on the Mets and could possibly be a reliable pinch-hitter, as well.
2013 Projections: .252 Average, 7 Home Runs, 28 RBI, .312 OBP
The Mets claimed Anthony Recker off waivers from the Cubs in October to give them some additional catching depth.
Going into spring training, Recker will most likely be the Mets' third catcher, but could be the Mets' Opening Day backup catcher if they don't think Travis D'Arnaud is ready for the major leagues just yet. However, once D'Arnaud is ready to play for the Mets, Recker will probably get sent down to the minor leagues.
Recker will not play a major role with the Mets this year, barring any significant injuries that occur. His role, if anything, will be similar to that of Rob Johnson in 2012, who only really played for the Mets last May when Josh Thole was on the disabled list.
2013 Projections: .232 Average, 2 Home Runs, 14 RBI, .306 OBP
Currently the Mets' longest tenured pitcher, Johan Santana will now play in what will more than likely be his final season with the Mets. Santana has had some brilliant games for the Mets, which is highlighted by the no-hitter he threw last June. However, his time with the Mets has also been marred with injuries, and he is clearly not pitching now like he once did with the Twins.
Santana had a very solid first half of his 2012 season, with a 6-5 record and a 3.24 ERA by the All-Star break. Unfortunately, he struggled mightily in the four starts he made in the second half of the season. By the middle of August, he was placed on the disabled list with a lower back injury and did not pitch for the rest of the season.
Santana's fastball velocity has decreased in recent years, but he still has a powerful change-up and a good slider, as well. Hopefully, Santana can stay healthy this year or else his time with the Mets will end on a sour note.
2013 Projections: 18 Starts, 7-4 Record, 4.34 ERA, 85 Strikeouts, 115.0 Innings Pitched
With Santana's second-half struggles last season, it's possible Jon Niese could be the Mets' 2013 Opening Day starter.
Niese is currently the Mets' most reliable starter now that R.A. Dickey is a member of the Blue Jays. He had the best season so far of his career in 2012 with a 13-9 record and a 3.40 ERA. He also set career highs with 190.1 innings pitched and 155 strikeouts.
Niese has a good fastball, plus a solid cutter, an improving curveball and a change-up he mixes in once in a while. He should be able to continue his growth this season and could even have an outside chance of making the All-Star team if he pitches well enough in the first half.
2013 Projections: 32 Starts, 15-8 Record, 3.13 ERA, 175 Strikeouts, 210.2 Innings Pitched, 2013 NL All-Star
Dillon Gee's 2012 season unfortunately ended in early July due to a blood clot that was found in his right shoulder. Before the injury, Gee had a 6-7 record and a 4.10 ERA for the season. He missed the remainder of the season though.
Gee should be ready to pitch by spring training and will likely be the Mets' fifth starter in the rotation. In 2012, Gee was more or less consistent, but the long ball gave him trouble as he allowed 12 home runs in just 17 starts. Hopefully, Gee will pitch better this year and allow less home runs.
Gee is not a power pitcher by any means, but has a good fastball and a very good change-up. He also throws a slider and a curveball. If he stays healthy, he could possibly have a season even better than the 13-win rookie season he had in 2011.
2013 Projections: 26 Starts, 11-10 Record, 3.83 ERA, 136 Strikeouts, 172.1 Innings Pitched
Recent free agent pick-up Shaun Marcum will hopefully add some depth to the Mets' rotation and will give the Mets a second veteran starter to offset the Mets' younger pitchers.
As a member of the Brewers, Marcum went 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts. He was better and healthier though in 2011 with a 13-7 record and a 3.54 ERA.
Marcum uses quite a few pitches on the mound. His fastball does not have much velocity to it, but he makes up for it by throwing a slider, a cutter, a curveball and a change-up, all of which he uses frequently. Hopefully, Marcum can stay healthy this year and give the Mets some much needed innings and wins.
2013 Projections: 28 Starts, 12-8 Record, 3.46 ERA, 147 Strikeouts, 192.2 Innings Pitched
One of the Mets' top prospects in recent years, Matt Harvey made his major league debut with the Mets last July and made 10 starts before being shut down in the middle of September.
In those 10 starts, Harvey went 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59.1 innings pitched. Harvey gave the Mets and their fans a glimpse of what they could be seeing for many years to come. As a result, a big season is what should be expected of the hard-throwing right-hander.
Harvey has become the Mets' first hard-throwing right-handed pitcher to come up through their system since former Cy Young Award winner Dwight Gooden in 1984. Harvey has a fastball that can reach 98 MPH, plus a good slider, a good change-up and an improving curveball.
Harvey should be able to have a great first full season with the Mets, and there is no reason as to why he cannot become an All-Star this year, as well. He is one of the brightest young pitching talents in all of baseball and at some point in his career, his name could be mentioned in Cy Young Award discussions. For now, though, Harvey should be able to put together a very solid season this year. He will likely begin this season as either the Mets' second or third starter in the rotation.
2013 Projections: 34 Starts, 16-8 Record, 3.08 ERA, 188 Strikeouts, 202.2 Innings Pitched, 2013 NL All-Star
As good as Harvey will likely be, top prospect Zack Wheeler might turn out to be even better and a legitimate ace for the future. Wheeler could possibly make the Mets' rotation out of spring training, but is more than likely to begin the 2013 season in the minor leagues before a promotion by either May or June.
With a powerful fastball as good as Harvey's, if not better, plus an above average curveball and a very good slider, Wheeler has quite the arsenal of pitches.
Between Class AA Binghamton and Class AAA Buffalo in 2012, Wheeler went 12-8 with a 3.26 ERA in 25 starts and 149.0 innings pitched. He also had 148 strikeouts, as well. Once he is on the major league roster, Wheeler will give the Mets a second young hard-throwing right-handed pitcher that will accumulate a lot of strikeouts.
Projecting Wheeler's 2013 season with the Mets would be difficult because it's unknown whether he will be on the Opening Day rotation, called up in late April or by May or June. Thus, these projections will be in the event that he gets called up in early May, which could very well happen. However, if he is called up early enough and pitches particularly well, Wheeler could definitely be in the running for NL Rookie of the Year.
2013 Projections: 20 Starts, 10-6 Record, 3.25 ERA, 127 Strikeouts, 116.1 Innings Pitched
Should any Mets starting pitchers suffer an injury, Jenrry Mejia will likely be the first player that is called up to fill in within the rotation. Thus, it will not be easy to determine how much of an effect Mejia will have on the Mets this year.
After bouncing back and forth between being a starter and a reliever, it seems as if Mejia will begin the 2013 season in the minor leagues as a starter, even though, if necessary, he could potentially be called up as a reliever.
Mejia is a more or less raw pitcher with a fastball that could reach 97-98 MPH, but his secondary pitches are not particularly strong, which include a curveball, a slider and a change-up. Mejia has also struggled with his control, as shown by the 38 walks he gave up in 108.2 combined innings throughout 2012.
If at least most of the Mets' main starting pitchers all stay healthy, Mejia might not have a chance to be in the rotation, but injuries happen in baseball, so it's quite possible that Mejia could make a few starts here and there.
2013 Projections: 11 Appearances, 7 Starts, 3-3 Record, 4.45 ERA, 32 Strikeouts, 44.2 Innings Pitched
Like Mejia, Jeurys Familia throws hard and does not have much control on his pitches. Familia, though, will very likely be in the Mets bullpen for the entire season, which is where he is much better suited for.
In 28 starts and 137.0 innings pitched in Class AAA Buffalo last year, Familia went 9-9 with a 4.73 ERA. He allowed an alarming 73 walks and had 128 strikeouts.
In his September call-up with the Mets, Familia mostly pitched out of the bullpen and pitched well in that role before making his first major league start. He lasted just four innings that day and allowed six walks, which did not help his cause.
Familia's fastball can also reach the 97-98 MPH range, but his slider and change-up will both need to improve in order for him to become a better pitcher. If Familia spends the entire 2013 season in the Mets bullpen, he could become a good reliever as long as he limits the walks and pitches effectively. Familia though could be more of a risk if placed into the rotation. Hopefully, such a situation will not occur.
2013 Projections: 62 Appearances, 4-4 Record, 3.73 ERA, 34 Strikeouts, 54.2 Innings Pitched
Jeremy Hefner will be the Mets' long reliever and spot starter once again this season. In an overshadowed role, Hefner actually did quite well, despite his 4-7 record and 5.09 ERA in his rookie season last year. He was always reliable and did whatever the Mets asked of him. He was not as successful as a starter, but did much better as a long reliever.
Hopefully, Hefner can be more consistent this year, although his chances of making actual starts will probably diminish, especially once Zack Wheeler is called up. Hefner has a good fastball and also throws a slider, curveball and change-up. He showed great control with just 18 walks in 93.1 innings pitched.
This year, Hefner will most likely make fewer starts and more appearances out of the bullpen. If he pitches well again as the long reliever, the Mets should be satisfied with the numbers Hefner puts up.
2013 Projections: 42 Appearances, 4 Starts, 5-3 Record, 4.18 ERA, 38 Strikeouts, 74.0 Innings Pitched
Robert Carson will be one of the Mets' two left-handed relievers in what will be his second season this year. After having spent most of 2012 in the minor leagues, he will probably be on the Mets roster this year for the entire season.
In 17 appearances and 13.1 innings pitched last year, Carson had no record, a 4.73 ERA and five strikeouts. With the Mets lacking a particular amount of left-handed relief depth though, Carson should be able to make the Opening Day roster out of spring training.
Like some of his teammates in the bullpen, Carson throws hard with a fastball that can reach 95-96 MPH. He also has a very good slider, plus an improving curveball and change-up. It will be interesting to see how Carson pitches within a full major league season and whether he can be really be a part of the Mets' future.
2013 Projections: 55 Appearances, 3-4 Record, 3.64 ERA, 23 Strikeouts, 47.1 Innings Pitched
The other southpaw in the Mets bullpen is left-handed setup man Josh Edgin.
Edgin pitched well for the Mets after being called up shortly after the 2012 All-Star break. In 34 appearances and 25.2 innings pitched, he went 1-2 with a 4.56 ERA and 30 strikeouts.
Edgin is mostly a two-pitch pitcher with a dominant fastball and an above-average slider. Edgin also has a change-up.
At the age of 26, Edgin could certainly become the Mets' left-handed setup man of the future, and this year could be a strong indicator of what he can do in a full season. The Mets will need him to shut down powerful left-handed sluggers throughout the National League in order to hold leads and secure wins. Hopefully, Edgin will consistently do just that.
2013 Projections: 73 Appearances, 4-2 Record, 3.35 ERA, 43 Strikeouts, 56.1 Innings Pitched
The most consistent Mets reliever in 2012 was, by far, Bobby Parnell. Parnell went 5-4 with a 2.49 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 74 appearances and 68.2 innings pitched.
Parnell will continue to be the Mets' right-handed setup man unless Frank Francisco struggles, which could lead to Parnell becoming the closer. In 2012, Francisco spent some time on the disabled list and Parnell was the closer in his absence. Parnell did reasonably well as a closer, but the Mets don't seem ready to put him as their permanent closer just yet.
Parnell has a very dominant fastball that can 100 MPH, but his secondary pitches are still a work in progress. His pitching arsenal includes a slider, curveball and change-up.
If Francisco struggles this year though, Parnell could very likely close for the rest of the season. This, of course, would depend on whether the Mets sign or trade for another closer either before Opening Day or by the trade deadline. After the season he had last year, Parnell is worthy of being given a shot to be the regular closer. It's only a matter of time until it becomes a reality.
2013 Projections: 60 Appearances, 2-1 Record, 15 Saves, 2.66 ERA, 72 Strikeouts, 58.2 Innings Pitched
Frank Francisco will be the Mets' closer again this year unless he pitches poorly enough to be demoted from that role. After a 2012 season that included a 1-3 record and a career high 5.53 ERA, Francisco might be on a thin leash as the Mets' 2013 closer.
It's not guaranteed just yet that Francisco will even be the Opening Day closer, depending on whether the Mets sign another closer before spring training. However, if such a move is not made, Francisco will most likely close, unless he pitches so poorly that Bobby Parnell becomes the closer instead.
Francisco has a good fastball, generally speaking, and also throws a slider, curveball and split-fingered fastball. The 33-year-old veteran can hopefully bounce back this season, and if he does, the Mets would probably be more than happy to trade him to a postseason contending team if such a situation presents itself.
2013 Projections: 52 Appearances, 2-4 Record, 3.91 ERA, 18 Saves, 40 Strikeouts, 48.2 Innings Pitched