With one quarter of the 2013 season in the books, reality has begun to set in for the New York Mets.
After back-to-back seasons of solid starts followed by second-half collapses, the team in Flushing is avoiding a third consecutive collapse by playing poor baseball to start this campaign.
Heading into Wednesday evening, New York is 14-22, sporting a -25 run differential, losing five straight and heading towards a fourth-place finish in the National League East.
As a group, there's little to be excited about at the moment. Of course, a team is a collection of individuals.
The franchise is struggling, trying to rebuild while staying respectable in the short-term.
Here is a snapshot of how the Mets' roster members are faring while the team loses games.
Without further ado, here are the first-quarter grades for the New York Mets.
C: John Buck (.228/.276/.496, 10 HR, 30 RBI): B+
It would be crazy to think that the Mets expected this kind of production from Buck when acquiring him along with the young pieces in the R.A. Dickey deal with Toronto.
Considering the inconsistency of the rest of the lineup outside of David Wright, the Mets would be far worse without the April posted by their veteran catcher. He's cooled off but handles the pitching staff well, has enough pop to hit 10-15 more home runs this summer and will hold the position well until Travis d'Arnaud is ready.
1B: Ike Davis (.169/.261/.288, 4 HR, 9 RBI): F
Unacceptable: While Davis may turn out to be a slow starter for the rest of his career, his lack of production or professional at-bats are killing New York's lineup.
Terry Collins deserves some heat for Davis' mental approach—flip-flopping him from bottom-of-the-order, to platoon duty to cleanup hitter can't help—but ultimately, Davis needs to learn to recognize the difference between balls and strikes.
2B: Daniel Murphy (.279/.315/.407, 2 HR, 16 RBI): C
Murphy has been labeled a hitter without a position since his arrival in 2008. Over the years, he's clearly put in the work to become an acceptable second baseman. If his bat were to live up to past expectations, New York could have a tremendous building block.
Instead, he's been almost perfectly average at the dish since the start of the 2012 season. A 103 OPS+ isn't worthy of a benching, but it's also far from anything to be excited about.
SS: Ruben Tejada (.227/.301/.295, 0 HR, 10 RBI): D
We're now 1,280 plate appearances into the Ruben Tejada experience in New York. With a .659 career OPS, it's clear that the Mets don't have a world-class bat on their hands.
Of course, Elvis Andrus hasn't been a much more dynamic hitter in his young career, but Texas just handed him a contract that could exceed $100 million. The difference? World-class defense. Andrus plays it, Tejada doesn't.
3B: David Wright (.296/.414/.512, 5 HR, 24 RBI): A+
If there's one reason to pay money to watch the 2013 Mets every night, it's their franchise third baseman. Despite playing in the media capital of the world, Wright is actually underrated.
Since his first full season in the majors, no full-time third baseman has posted a higher WAR. His .382 wOBA ranks third during that span behind only immortals named Alex Rodriguez and Chipper Jones.
Thus far in 2013, months after signing a long-term contract to stay with New York through his prime, Wright is in the Top 10 for OBP and playing his way into the All-Star Game at Citi Field.
UTL: Justin Turner (.310/.349/.362, 0 HR, 5 RBI): B+
Turner has made the most of his spot duty along the infield, giving the Mets a versatile bat to plug in when needed. If Ike Davis continues to struggle against left-handed pitching, Terry Collins could give Turner more opportunities to shine.
Lucas Duda (.213/.361/.481, 8 HR, 13 RBI): B
If you're looking for aesthetically pleasing baseball, Lucas Duda isn't your kind of player. Lumbering, slow and lead-footed in the outfield, he's a first baseman or designated hitter trying to get by in the outfield.
Sixty-five of his 133 plate appearances—or in other words, nearly half—have ended in a walk, strikeout or home run. That being said, he's valuable. If he can get on base at a high clip, hit for power and not embarrass himself in left field, there's a building block here.
Still not a believer? New York has received the fourth-highest OPS from LF this season. That figure isn't just for the NL East. It's for all of baseball.
Mike Baxter (.250/.370/.333, 0 HR, 4 RBI): B+
Despite an outfield of castoffs and fringe prospects, the fact that Baxter hasn't been given more than 73 plate appearances is strange. His knack for walk-off hits and all-out effort has endeared him to Mets fans. He's excelled at the role he's been asked to play this season.
Jordany Valdespin (.235/.297/.426, 3 HR, 11 RBI): C
At some point, the Mets must decide if the headaches provided by Valdespin are worth his production. While there's certainly talent, pop and enthusiasm in his game, he rubs people the wrong way—from his own clubhouse to the opposition.
Of course, if he was truly a star, it wouldn't matter. Although he has talent, he's not consistent enough at the plate to be guaranteed anything moving forward.
Marlon Byrd (.271/.301/.458, 3 HR, 16 RBI): C
Considering his .663 OPS since the start of the 2011 season, Marlon Byrd has turned back the clock enough to not embarrass himself or the team when he's on the field. While he's not close to the player or athlete he once was, this signing has been exactly what it was intended to be: a stopgap.
Collin Cowgill/Andrew Brown/Rick Ankiel/Juan Lagaras: D
The following statistic isn't embellished for shock value: The New York Mets have received a .482 OPS from center field this season. To put that into perspective, the Cincinnati Reds have received a .460 OPS from their pitchers.
In other words, Terry Collins—regardless of which name is written into the lineup card on a given night—is essentially working with two pitcher spots in his lineup.
Matt Harvey (8 GS, 56.1 IP, 62 K, 14 BB, 1.44 ERA): A+
Hyperbole aside, Matt Harvey might be the best pitcher in the world right now. While the jury is out on his ability to continue this over a full season or a long-term career, his performance through eight starts has elicited comparisons to Dwight "Doc" Gooden's 1985 season and put him in the early Cy Young discussion.
His starts have become an event every fifth day, giving fans and outside media a reason to flock to Citi Field. If he can sustain his success through June, he'll be given the nod as the National League's starter in the All-Star Game.
Jon Niese/Jeremy Hefner/Dillon Gee/Shaun Marcum/Aaron Laffey (28 GS, 142 IP, 94 K, 65 BB, 5.70 ERA): F
If you remove Matt Harvey from the equation, the Mets are running out the worst rotation in baseball outside of the experiment in futility that exists in Houston. The following are the MLB ranks of this rotation when you remove their ace from the equation:
While little was expected of Jeremy Hefner or Aaron Laffey, the trio of Dillon Gee/Shaun Marcum/Jon Niese has been a colossal disappointment. Until Zack Wheeler arrives and/or Jon Niese figures out what is ailing him, the Mets have little to chance to win on the four-out-of-five nights where Harvey doesn't pitch.
Bobby Parnell (16 G, 16.1 IP, 15 K, 3 BB, 1.10 ERA): A+
If not for fielding mistakes, Parnell's save-opportunity record would be spotless. Thus far, he's done nothing but excel in the closers role, destroying the notion that he didn't have the mentality to shut the door as a stopper. His stuff is lights out. If New York can garner more leads entering the ninth inning, there's a star in the making here.
Scott Atchison/LaTroy Hawkins/Brandon Lyon/Scott Rice: D
Much like what happened when we remove Matt Harvey from the starting rotation, looking at this bullpen without Parnell is ugly. With a collective ERA of 4.89 with Parnell, it rises to more than 5.00 without him.
To be fair, Scott Rice (22 G, 3.50 ERA) and Brandon Lyon (18 G, 3.00 K/BB) have been serviceable.
Unfortunately, it's hard to judge this group based on two factors: the inept starting rotation that's forced the Mets to log the ninth-most innings in the league and a horrendous series in Colorado that can ruin a collective ERA for two months. If things break right, this group could lean more toward average than bad.
Terry Collins: C-
To be 100 percent fair, judging Collins' win-loss record since he took over prior to the 2011 season is a difficult task. The talent simply isn't there to compete, and the management knows it. While he's been dealt a rough hand, his lame-duck status and breaking point are coming into focus as time wears on.
From contradicting his own moves, to strange in-game management to taking on the fans, Collins is wearing down on the job. He's not a bad manager, shouldn't lose his job and likely deserves better.
But to say he's doing anything more than an average job is masking the bigger points of his role in the dugout right now.