7 Bold Predictions for the New York Mets in the Second Half of the Season
However, things are looking up, even if their recent win-loss record doesn't scream "turnaround." After a June 15 clubhouse meeting called by captain David Wright, the Mets are 10-8 (and probably should be better than that).
It's been a depressing season up to this point with the exception of the last three weeks, but there are still another 80 games of Mets baseball left before we head into the offseason.
Here we will look ahead to the final three months of 2013, as we make seven bold predictions for the Mets in the second half of the season.
Winning Record in July
The first three months of the season were not kind to the New York Mets, but Terry Collins' ballclub is finally showing some semblance of becoming a Major League Baseball team.
Four games into the month of July, the Mets are 2-2 following a four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Splitting a four-game tilt with a first-place team is nothing to gripe about, but the Mets realistically could have swept that series and probably should have won three-of-four.
Unfortunately, they did not. But after a two-week stretch that encompassed some of the most physically demanding baseball you will see, the Mets have something to look forward to over the next month.
From now until the end of the month, the Mets will play seven series against teams with a combined 251-257 record. The team's next two series come against the Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants, teams that are a combined 26 games under .500.
The Mets will face the Pittsburgh Pirates in their final series before the All-Star break. Things could either go really well or terribly dreadful in Pittsburgh. We could see a springboard into the four-day vacation or a further descent into the doldrums of the National League.
After the break, the Mets have four straight series against divisional foes, none of which have been playing particularly well this season other than the Atlanta Braves.
If all goes remotely according to plan, the Mets will be able to finish July with a winning record and claw their way back toward .500.
Marlon Byrd Will Be Traded
Marlon Byrd's 2013 contributions to the New York Mets have been nothing short of shocking.
While Byrd has been invaluable to the Mets in the (partial) absence of Ike Davis' power bat, the Mets are perfectly capable of finishing 10-plus games under 500 without his services. He obviously isn't a super-hot commodity on the trade market, but it isn't unreasonable to believe Byrd will warrant a worthwhile return if Sandy Alderson decides to shop him.
Potential trade partners will not send back a blue-chip prospect for two months of Marlon Byrd, but a B-level arm who could be used as a reliever in the future would be ideal given the circumstances.
There is no true setup man on the Mets now that Brandon Lyon has been designated for assignment, so flipping Byrd for a young reliever would be a no-brainer.
Alderson struck gold with the Byrd signing and would be wise to find a way to do it again with a trade prior to July 31.
Ike Davis Bounces Back
Just thinking about watching Ike Davis' feeble attempt to simply make contact with a curveball makes my stomach churn. But after nearly a month in Las Vegas with Wally Backman and his staff, I believe Davis is capable of bouncing back over the last three months of the season.
We won't know what exactly it was that the Las Vegas coaching staff did with Ike until he makes his return against the Milwaukee Brewers tonight, but the first baseman's job will undoubtedly be in jeopardy if it is not clear that his demotion paid dividends for his production.
Davis was awful throughout the first half of last season and was even more unwatchable through the first two-plus months of 2013. As we all know, though, he finished exceptionally strong last year to bring his final line to a .227 batting average, 32 home runs and 90 RBI.
If Davis can show some inkling of productivity, he should be able to get in a groove with the likes of David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Marlon Byrd surrounding him in the lineup. That is not quite Murderers' Row, but there will be runs to drive in.
Prior to his call-up, Davis was hitting .293 with seven homers, seven doubles, 13 RBI and a near one-to-one strikeout to walk ratio with Triple-A Las Vegas. Look for him to get going fast, because it will be a slipper slope if he does not.
I'm not predicting the New York Mets to finish at .500 or make a run at second place in the division because these are just bold predictions, not delusional ones.
This Mets team would be a lock for last place in a few other divisions in baseball, but thanks to the relative mediocrity (or futility) of the National League East, Terry Collins and Co. could reasonably make a run at third place.
We'll pencil the Atlanta Braves in for a first-place finish because they are obviously the best of the bunch. After them, though, the division could finish a multitude of different ways.
Both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals are toiling near .500 right now -- with Philly four games under and the Nats one game over. We know the Nats will continue to make a playoff push, but the Phillies may decide to sell at the deadline with Cliff Lee having the type of year he is.
If the Phillies do choose to sell, the Mets would be more than able to catch
them in the win-loss column and vault above them in the standings. Whether those two events will take place, we'll have to wait and see, but a race for third place would keep Met fans at bay for another offseason.
Matt Harvey Wins NL Cy Young
Matt Harvey's ERA took a hit and rose to 2.27 following his five earned run outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night, but he is still right in the thick of things in terms of the National League Cy Young Award.
Right in the thick of things may be an understatement, as Harvey currently leads the NL in strikeouts by 15 and WHIP by .02.
He is one of the most electrifying young pitchers in Major League Baseball and will only continue to improve as the year goes on. Harvey likely will not blow anyone away with his final win total thanks to a lack of hitting and some shoddy bullpen work by the New York Mets, but his metrics and other meaningful statistics will be near the top of the league.
Those who vote on the Cy Young make their decisions in numerous different ways. Some look at wins, some at ERA and others look at a combination of all facets of pitching.
No matter which way you look at it, Harvey is one of the frontrunners with Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw.
Strong Finish in September
Over the final 20 games of the 2013 MLB season, the New York Mets will play
series against six teams with a current combined record of 238-270. That is a .469 winning percentage.
Four-game series against the Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers sandwich a pair of three-gamers against the Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds. The playoffs are a reach for all of those clubs barring the Reds, and they might even have a hard
time getting there in a difficult division.
The Mets have a lot of young players already on the roster and will bring up plenty more when rosters expand to 40 in September. Inexperience is sometimes a curse, but youthful legs do not give out as easily.
Pride will be the only thing the Mets have to play for come September, but there will be numerous young players auditioning for a spot on next year's opening day roster.
76-86 Final Record
If I made the prediction prior to the season that the New York Mets would actually improve on their 2012 record by two games, I would have received no shortage of funny looks. Now that the Mets are playing entertaining and moderately improved baseball, 10 games under .500 seems like a possibility.
A 76-86 finish would call for a 41-39 record the rest of the way. Thanks to an extremely impressive rotation and a bullpen that is no longer a lock to pour gasoline on the fire, that seems at least somewhat realistic.
The Mets have done well as of late to regain the attention of their own fans, but that is not good enough yet. Terry Collins still has to get the most out of his players down the stretch to keep the team relative amongst its own fanbase.
It is not a playoff run, but 76-86 would be good enough for me in a year that many predicted the Mets to fall sort of 70 wins.