Spring training is finally starting to get under way, and the New York Mets will have a lot of work to do in putting together what will hopefully be a winning team.
There will be a few position battles for starting jobs as well as some competitions for bench and bullpen spots. Hopefully, Terry Collins and his coaching staff will make good decisions that could turn the Mets into a winning team for the first time since 2008.
Here are ten bold spring training predictions for the Mets.
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.
In what might be the most anticipated spring training competition for the Mets, Ike Davis should have a better shot than Lucas Duda at the starting first baseman job.
Davis has a proven track record of success, unlike Duda, who has yet to put together a good full season of hitting. In the past two seasons, Davis got off to very slow starts and, in 2013, he was very inconsistent throughout.
However, his 32 home runs and 90 RBI from 2012 should give him an advantage. In other words, first base should be Davis' job to lose.
In addition, Duda is more valuable off the bench because he can play first base and the outfield. Davis has played only first base in his major league career.
The Mets have yet to sign any free-agent shortstops that could send Ruben Tejada to the bench. As a result, unless any signings occur during spring training, Tejada will almost certainly be the starting shortstop on Opening Day.
Tejada batted .202 with 10 RBI in 208 at-bats in 2013. He missed a good chunk of the season with a quadriceps injury. All in all, it was a completely lost season for Tejada, who will look to bounce back this year.
Despite signing veteran catcher Taylor Teagarden to a minor league deal, Anthony Recker still should be considered the favorite to be the backup for the second straight season.
Recker had a decent 2013 season with a .215 average, six home runs and 19 RBI. His .280 OBP was low, but he showed good power for a backup catcher. He is the kind of catcher that the Mets should want to play when Travis d'Arnaud needs a rest.
Teagarden meanwhile has a career .206 average and just 20 home runs in a span of six major league seasons. Both catchers are 30 years old, but with Teagarden having a longer major league career thus far, Recker could have more potential.
Furthermore, Recker had a good enough 2013 season to earn his job back.
With Curtis Granderson and Chris Young joining the Mets outfield, it looks like Eric Young Jr. will at least start off as a bench player.
Despite leading the NL in 2013 with 46 stolen bases, Young hit just .249 with a .645 OPS. He simply was not getting on base as often as a leadoff hitter should.
One other possibility for Young to get a starting job would be if second baseman Daniel Murphy were to get traded. But that does not look like it will happen any time soon, so more than likely, Young will be a utility player off the bench who also can pinch run.
Matt den Dekker's bat may not be fully developed at this point, but one valued quality of a backup outfielder is the ability to excel defensively. For years, den Dekker has had great defensive potential. That said, it would be surprising if he did not make the Mets Opening Day roster as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares and Chris Young are all good defensive outfielders and should not be considered defensive liabilities by any means. However, if Granderson or Young were to need a breather late in a game, den Dekker should be able to provide very reliable defense in the outfield.
With excellent range and a good throwing arm, den Dekker could be a valuable backup outfielder going forward. The Mets may want him to improve his bat in the minor leagues, but he still should make the team in a backup role, which would be perfect for a player like him.
Noah Syndergaard may be one of, if not the top prospect for the Mets, but despite all the growth and development he made last season, he should not get rushed to the major leagues too quickly.
Syndergaard has yet to pitch in Triple-A and could probably use a few months there before he likely gets called up to the major leagues in June or July.
The Mets used this tactic on Zack Wheeler last season so he could be under team control for an additional season. There is a very good chance they will do the same for Syndergaard.
Syndergaard went 9-4 with a 3.06 ERA between Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton last year. He also had 133 strikeouts and allowed just 28 walks. Syndergaard also participated in the 2013 MLB Futures Game.
Syndergaard is not the only Mets prospect who will probably not start the season with the club out of spring training.
Rafael Montero will probably join Syndergaard in Triple-A to start the season. He might even get called up with Syndergaard to the major leagues in the summer.
Unlike Syndergaard, Montero spent part of 2013 in Triple-A and is further developed at this point. If one of the Mets' major league pitchers were to get hurt in April, May or early June, Montero would probably get promoted before Syndergaard.
Montero went 12-7 with a 2.78 ERA last season and spent time at Double-A Binghamton and later Triple-A Las Vegas. Like Syndergaard, Montero was in the 2013 MLB Futures Game as well.
Jenrry Mejia is probably better suited to be a relief pitcher in the long run, but will most likely win the competition for the Mets' fifth starting pitcher role this season.
Mejia went 1-2 in five starts with a 2.30 ERA last season and showed a lot of potential in those starts. He is also much younger than both Lannan and Matsuzaka and could easily slide into the bullpen when Syndergaard and Montero are ready for their eventual major league promotions.
Bobby Parnell's 2013 season ended early when he had to undergo neck surgery in August. Parnell was having a great season to that point with a 5-5 record, a 2.16 ERA and 22 saves in 49 appearances.
The Mets have made some recent bullpen upgrades, but Terry Collins has already stated that Parnell will not have any competition for the closing job this season, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.
If that is what the Mets manager said, then that's what will happen, right? Parnell will look to build on the success he had last year and hopefully have an even better 2014 season.
With both veterans having proven track records of closing success in the past, Farnsworth and Valverde should be able to make the Mets Opening Day roster.
These signings were good for the Mets bullpen in order to give the team some veteran relievers to balance out all the inexperienced youth the Mets have in pitchers like Jeurys Familia, Josh Edgin, Gonzalez Germen and Vic Black.
Parnell, Farnsworth, Valverde, Familia, Edgin, Germen and Black will most likely be the Mets Opening Day bullpen, unless the Mets decide to give a starting pitcher like Lannan or Matsuzaka a long relief role.