3 Reasons New York Mets Are Heading in the Right Direction

Stephen SmithContributor IIIAugust 30, 2013

3 Reasons New York Mets Are Heading in the Right Direction

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    Despite the devastating news that Matt Harvey has been diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, there are reasons for optimism if you are a New York Mets fan.

    It may seem like the Mets are always positioned directly under a dark cloud, but there is hope.

    Really.

    Let's take a look at three reasons the New York Mets are actually heading in the right direction.

3. Byrd and Buck Trade

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    Despite the fact that Marlon Byrd and John Buck were very productive players for New York this season, general manager Sandy Alderson made a smart move when he traded both veterans to Pittsburgh for shortstop prospect Dilson Herrera, a player to be named later and cash considerations.

    While the 2013 campaign has completely fallen apart for the Mets, they must look to the future, and the 19-year-old Herrera is considered a fine talent.

    A native of Cartagena, Columbia, Herrera was the Pirates' representative in the Futures Game at Citi Field in July. He hit .265 with 11 home runs, 56 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 109 games with high class-A West Virginia this season.

    Although Herrera is several years away from playing for the parent club, the Mets need to think about the future at shortstop.

    Omar Quintanilla is better suited as a reserve infielder. Ruben Tejada took a huge step backward this season by reporting to spring training out of shape and then being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas after recovering from a quad injury.

    The Mets will miss the professionalism of both Byrd and Buck, but it was a move management had to make.

     

2. Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese

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    With Matt Harvey on the shelf for an undetermined amount of time, Mets management can take solace in the fact that Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese will anchor the starting rotation in 2014.

    Despite some command issues from time to time, Wheeler has had a solid rookie campaign since his major league debut in Atlanta on June 18. The Smyrna, Ga. native has fashioned a 6-3 record with a 3.62 ERA in 13 starts for New York. He has the stuff to be a staff ace, which might be his calling now that Harvey is injured.

    The 23-year-old right-hander needs to keep his base-on-balls ratio down (he's walked 33 in 76.1 innings), but he has an above-average fastball and a wicked curveball. His future looks very bright, and Mets fans are hoping he can stay healthy for many years to come.

    He needs to. New York's luck can't be that bad, can it?

    Niese (6-6, 3.69 ERA) spun a nifty three-hit shutout of the Phillies Tuesday night and seems to have recovered nicely from the shoulder injury that put him on the shelf for almost two months this season. If the talented southpaw can remain healthy, the Mets will have a solid one-two punch in their rotation next season.

    Can you imagine how formidable New York's rotation would be if Harvey were still healthy? Oh well, back to reality.

    "After getting the news with (Matt) Harvey, we need to press on, do our jobs,” Niese told Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News. “We pray for him to have a speedy recovery, but we still have a little over a month left this year and we want to finish strong.”

    ...And have some momentum heading into 2014.

     

1. Young Arms on the Farm

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    The Mets are blessed with many talented young pitching in the minor leagues. They will be the foundation for New York to compete for a playoff spot for years to come.

    Leading the way is right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who is currently dominating Double-A Binghamton with a 6-1 record, 3.00 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 54 innings of work. The 20-year-old Mansfield, Texas native is 23rd on Baseball America's Midseason Top 50 Prospects List.

    Travis d'Arnaud was the main player Sandy Alderson was targeting in the R.A. Dickey trade with Toronto last December, but Syndergaard may turn out to be the better prospect when it's all said and done.

    Another top prospect Mets fans are watching is 22-year-old right-hander Rafael Montero, who is 12-7 this season splitting time between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas. If Harvey misses significant time next year, Montero could be on the fast track to Citi Field in Queens.

    He now owns a 5-4 mark with a 3.28 ERA in 14 starts for the 51s. In his first four August starts for Las Vegas, Montero posted a 3-1 ledger with a 1.33 ERA, four walks, and 24 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.

    Impressive.

    Michael Fulmer is another pitching prospect to keep an eye on. A former first-round pick by New York in the 2011 MLB amateur draft, Fulmer is 2-2 with a 3.44 ERA, 18 walks, 29 strikeouts, and .198 opponent batting average for St. Lucie of the Florida State League this season.

    These three prospects provide a great deal of hope for frustrated Mets fans.