With spring training just around the corner now, it's time to project what the starting lineup will be for the 2014 version of the New York Mets.
The Mets have made a significant upgrade by signing free agent Curtis Granderson to add some much-needed power to their roster. Will there be further upgrades forthcoming? Mets fans certainly hope so.
Let's take a look in the crystal ball and project what New York's starting lineup (minus the pitcher) will look like when the Mets open the season against the Washington Nationals on Mar. 31:
- LF Eric Young, Jr.
- 2B Daniel Murphy
- 3B David Wright
- RF Curtis Granderson
- CF Chris Young
- 1B Ike Davis/Lucas Duda
- SS Stephen Drew
- C Travis d'Arnaud
The first thing that jumps out at you is seeing Drew's name at shortstop. The thought here is that general manager Sandy Alderson will sign Drew shortly before spring training to a two-year contract.
The 30-year-old Drew would add some offensive firepower to a team that sorely needs some pop in its lineup. His slugging percentage was a solid .443 last season when he cracked 13 home runs in 124 games for the Boston Red Sox.
The key with Drew is keeping him healthy. He missed 38 games in 2013 and last played 150 games or more in 2010 while with the Arizona Diamondbacks (151).
That being said, Drew is still in his prime years, and inking him to a two-year pact in the $20-22 million range is worth the gamble. Drew is also a superb defensive shortstop and his big-game experience would be welcomed in New York's clubhouse.
One of the most interesting battles that will be waged in spring training will be to see who wins the starting first baseman's job between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.
Yes, Davis is still on the Mets.
That's a good thing.
Although Davis had a season to forget last year with just nine home runs, 33 RBI and a feeble .205 batting average in 377 at-bats, not all hope is lost for the southpaw slugger.
Davis is still just 26 years old and did hit .286 in the second half last season. In 2012, Davis clouted 32 homers and drove in 90 runs, so the outstanding potential is certainly there.
Not only that, but Davis is known to be a better overall fielding first baseman than Duda. Unless Davis totally falls flat on his face during spring training, expect the Arizona State University product to be starting at first base come March 31.
The most important player in New York's lineup might be outfielder Chris Young. A former All-Star with Arizona in 2010, the 30-year-old Young is expected to provide the Mets with some much-needed right-handed power and protection for Granderson in manager Terry Collins' lineup.
Young hit just .200 in 335 AB for the Oakland A's last season, but he did smack 12 home runs. He has slugged as many as 27 homers as recently as 2010 and hit a career-high 32 HR with the Diamondbacks in 2007.
The Mets caught lightning in a bottle last year with Marlon Byrd and are hoping that Young can make a somewhat similar impact. He is still in his prime and is also known as a solid defensive outfielder.
Now he just needs a chance to prove what he can still do.
The Mets are giving him that opportunity.
Will he make the most of it? The answer may hold the key to how well New York will perform offensively this coming season.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
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