5 Things Mets Still Need to Do Before the Start of Spring Training
With spring training roughly a month away, the Mets still have some issues to address before putting a better team on the field for this season.
The Mets' biggest offseason news included the signings of Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young. The Mets addressed their outfield and starting pitching vacancies with those signings. However, there are still a few other issues the Mets need to figure out within the next few weeks.
Here are five things the Mets still need to do before spring training.
Figure out Whether They Still Want to Pursue an Upgrade at Shortstop
The Mets need to evaluate their options and decide whether to sign or trade for another shortstop, because an upgrade is clearly needed there.
Stephen Drew could be a good fit for the Mets, and he would provide power that they have not had at shortstop since Jose Reyes' 19 homers in 2006. The Mets, though, do not seem too willing to give Drew a deal longer than one or two years.
With the shortstop market already thin, the Mets will pretty much have three options. They could sign Drew, make a trade of some sort or stand pat with Ruben Tejada starting. It will be fascinating to see how this ends up unfolding.
Decide Whether to Trade Ike Davis or Lucas Duda
Despite the fact that no deals have happened just yet, it would be in the Mets' best interest to trade either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda before spring training, just so there is more stability at first base and so the Mets can focus on other areas as well.
Davis batted just .205 this past season, with nine home runs and 33 RBI in 317 at-bats. Davis raised his 2012 .308 OBP to .326, thanks to a higher walk rate, but his slugging percentage fell from .462 to .334.
Davis got off to a very slow start and eventually was demoted in June for nearly a month. He hit slightly better after coming back, but in late August, he suffered a season-ending oblique injury. Davis hit 32 home runs and drove in 90 RBI in 2012, which were both career highs for him.
Duda, meanwhile, batted .223 with 15 home runs and 33 RBI in 318 at-bats. He was the starting left fielder until he got injured in June and was replaced by Eric Young Jr. in left field for the rest of the season. When Duda eventually returned in late August, it was as a first baseman. Originally, he was on the bench, but after Ike Davis got hurt, Duda took over at first base for the rest of the season.
Determine What to Do with Wilmer Flores
The one Mets hitter with the most unknown future would probably be Wilmer Flores. With David Wright at third base, Daniel Murphy at second and either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda at first, Flores could be blocked within the Mets depth chart from being an everyday player. Thus, the chances of him getting traded are on the higher side.
When David Wright suffered a hamstring injury in early August, the Mets eventually decided to give Flores an opportunity to showcase his talents. Unfortunately, Flores did not play particularly well, with a .211 average, one home run and 13 RBI in 95 at-bats. Once Wright was healthy, Flores was sent to the bench and did not play as much in the final two weeks of the season.
If the Mets could find a way to trade both Davis and Duda, they could possibly insert Flores as the new starting first baseman, but the likelihood of this happening is rather slim.
More than likely, if the Mets make a notable trade soon, Flores will probably be involved. A good number of teams could use a young third baseman, but with a superstar in Wright around, the Mets do not have this problem. Furthermore, due to his younger age and the fact that he is still eligible to be a rookie, Flores' trade value should be considered higher than both Davis' and Duda's.
Decide Who Will Compete with Jenrry Mejia for Fifth Spot in Rotation
The Mets' upcoming 2014 pitching now includes Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and newcomer Bartolo Colon, who recently signed a two-year contract. The Mets still have the final spot in the rotation to figure out, though.
If Matt Harvey were healthy, the Mets' 2014 rotation would be completely set. But unfortunately, that will not be the case, with Harvey expected to miss all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.
The Mets have some internal options to fill the void. One of them could be Jenrry Mejia, who was 1-2 with a 2.30 ERA in five starts last season. Mejia will probably begin spring training as the favorite to win the spot. The Mets could also look to bring back Daisuke Matsuzaka, among others, to compete.
And then there is another factor for the Mets rotation. What will they do if/when both Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are ready to be promoted?
They both could be called up this summer, and the Mets would then have a logjam in the rotation. The Mets may end up moving Mejia back to the bullpen, where he could ultimately become more successful. Other options, though, may exist as well.
The Mets' starting rotation was one of the brighter spots last season and should be even better in 2014, despite the loss of Harvey. Hopefully, a good decision can be made on the fifth starting spot.
Put Together a Better Bullpen
For the past few seasons, the Mets have tinkered with their bullpen and have brought in various relievers. Most of them unfortunately did not end up working out as particularly great relievers, though, which led to more changes.
The Mets' young 2014 bullpen should include Jeurys Familia, Josh Edgin, Gonzalez Germen, Vic Black, Scott Rice and closer Bobby Parnell. Parnell, though, is recovering from neck surgery he had in August. With that being said, it's imperative that the Mets get a veteran reliever who has at least a good amount of closing experience from either free agency or the trade market.
One of Andrew Bailey, Kevin Gregg, Joel Hanrahan, Carlos Marmol or Fernando Rodney could be just what the Mets need in order to strengthen their bullpen. If the Mets can find a way to sign one of them, they might be able to protect more leads in the late innings.