The 2013 New York Mets: Sandy's Resurrected Mets

Andrew DiamondContributor IAugust 1, 2011

The 2013 New York Mets: Sandy's Resurrected Mets

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    The Recap/Intro

    Sandy Alderson has begun to cement his legacy as the heroic GM that saved the Mets from its previous ineptitude.

    Just one month ago, Alderson dumped Francisco Rodriguez, which in the process rescued the 2012 NY Mets from employing the highest and most overpaid closer of all time. Rodriguez was on pace to finish over 55 games in 2011, which would automatically kick in a preposterous $17.5 Million vesting option. Uneven and wasteful contracts like these will define Omar Minaya's tenure with the Mets.

    And just last week, Alderson was at it again. Continually cleaning house and prepping this Mets franchise for a championship attempt further down the road. This time, Sandy didn't just unload money, he brought back one of the best young arms in the game; Zack Wheeler.

    It's still unknown what the return on K-Rod will be, but Mets fans can hope for two mid-level Brewers prospect come september when the players to be named, will be named. 

    So just where are we in the Sandy Alderson/Terry Collins era?

    Well let's just say these aren't your 2006 Mets. In fact, only 2 members of the 2006 playoff roster remain on the New York Mets.

    You guessed it, David Wright and Jose Reyes.

    And for those Mets fans that claim either of them are leaving, you can forget about that and here is why.

    The Wilpons will have paid the following amount of money to these players in 2011:

     

    Luis Castillo: $6 Million

    Oliver Perez: $12 Million

    Francisco Rodriguez: $9 Million

    Carlos Beltran: $16 Million 

    Jose Reyes: $11 Million

    None of those players are under contract for 2012. This means that the projected payroll when 2012 free agency begins will have the Mets positioned at roughly $64 Million in salaries for players on their active 2012 roster. 

    Sandy Alderson is on record of saying that the 2012 payroll will be somewhere above $100 Million despite the presumably dire financial issues at hand.

    That being said, the Mets will have a budget of $35 Million to spend this offseason. It is only a matter of how much of that will go to Jose Reyes and how much will be spent on filling some holes. 

    So here we project what the 2013 New York Mets will have in store for the fans. Because it is at this point that we will be able to see Sandy's true impact on the franchise as well as the Mets prospects impact at the big-league level.

    The next slides outline the 2013 New York Mets position by position. These include all players under contract through those years, as well as prospects and projected keepers and signees.

Catcher

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    Not a star-studded spot for the Mets. Thole can model his career after Jason Kendall and be a serviceable 8-hitter with plus fielding ability if he fulfills his promise.

    You can perhaps expect the Mets to make a big splash in free agency or in the draft at this position, but Thole is the sensible pick to be the Mets 2013 starter right now.

    Potential Free agent signees include:

    Miguel Montero (2013 FA)

     

    Potential Backups:

    Ronny Paulino (2013 FA)

    Mike Nickeas (Just called up from AAA)

    Blake Forsythe (In Low-A)

First Base

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    So long as this man stays healthy, 1B is a position that Met fans will not have to worry about for a long time to come.

    Davis busted onto the scene in 2010 and was perhaps the team's biggest bright-spot. Until Ike somehow collided with David Wright back in May of his 2011 sophomore campaign, Davis was on an all-star pace.

    Had he stayed healthy, Ike was on pace for 32 home runs if he completed a full 162-game season. In addition to his 7 home runs through the first 36 games of the season, Davis was the owner of an astonishing .926 OPS and more than respectable .302 batting average. In true Mets fashion though, Ike went down with a day-to-day "twisted ankle," which after the Mets training and medical staff got through with him turned into a likely season ending injury.

    Seriously what is it with this team's handling of injuries?

    Davis provides potential gold-glove defense and a bat that will sit somewhere between the 4-5 slot in the batting order. Davis is an essential fit to hit behind his 2011 collision counterpart, David Wright, for a very long time to come.

    The Mets are more than content with handing the 2012 starting first base job back into the hands of Davis, while shifting Daniel Murphy to 2B or utility infielder.

    Potential Free Agent Signee's:

    No one.

    Potential Back-ups:

    Lucas Duda (power lefty off the bench)

    Daniel Murphy (capable of filling in at 1B, more likely to start at 2B)

     

Second Base

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    Starting second baseman is a tricky one to predict for the 2013 New York Mets. Instead we list four very viable candidates to fill the void.

    Candidate 1: Daniel Murphy

    Murph is having a breakout season, and doing so in under-the-radar fashion. One can argue that he is the teams second MVP of 2011 behind Jose Reyes. He leads the team in games played through July (100), and he's on a torrid pace of late, upping his batting average to .319, which is good for 3rd-best in the NL behind Ryan Braun and Jose Reyes. It has been a truly remarkable season for Daniel Murphy. Despite missing all of 2010, Murphy is a true gamer and brings grit and swag to the New York Mets. He is without a doubt a keeper one way or another.

    The problem with Murphy is fielding. He's actually a more than capable 1B or 3B as he projects out as a true corner infielder. Unfortunately the Mets have two all-star caliber players in Wright and Davis manning those positions. If Murphy can develop and learn the nuances of 2B, then I see no obstacle in his way of claiming the starting gig there by 2013, and maybe sooner than that.

    He does, however, face stiff competition between Turner and the two other middle infield prospects Valdespin and Havens.

    Candidate 2: Jordany Valdespin

    I'll admit, I've never seen this guy play. He struck me with some plus ability to hit for average in the minors over the past two years just judging by statistics. But this year has been an utter breakthrough for the young Dominican infielder.

    The 6-foot tall, lefty-hitting shortstop is mashing at AA-Binghamton this season to the tune of .307/.352/.511 with 15 home runs and 31 steals as we enter into August. The biggest surprise by far is his spike in home runs from last season to this one (6 all of last year).

    Again, I've never seen the guy play, but he has the range to play shortstop, but obviously his future remains at 2B with Reyes hopefully still in the picture in 2013. Expect Valdespin to make a legitimate push at the starting 2B job come 2013 as he possesses a better glove than Murphy and may equal his production at the plate as well as outdue production on the basepaths.

    Candidate 3: Reese Havens

    I remember spending a summer in 2008 working for the Brooklyn Cyclones and watching first round draft picks Brad Holt and Reese Havens excel, while watching Ike Davis struggle. Who would've known that 3 years later, Davis would be the stud of the bunch, while Havens continuously dealt with injury and Holt lost his command.

    I remember seeing Havens and immediately saying to myself, this guy is the future 2B for the Mets and should be starting no later than 2010. Then injuries piled up on him and now, already at age 25, Havens is running out of time all of a sudden. He must stay on the field and prove he can sustain his body over a full season before the Mets can consider giving him the call. And even if he reaches that point, a glaring hole in his game seems to be hitting left-handers (he's .143 against them in 2011).

    The left-handed hitting 2B once projected nicely into the Mets starting lineup. Now he'll be lucky to make the team altogether. I expect him to be competing for the starting gig come 2013, but it's tough to say whether Reese can fulfill his once promising career in Flushing.

    Candidate 4: Justin Turner

    This guy has been the surprise of 2011 for the New York Mets. Like Murphy, he is a gamer and will play wherever or whenever you want him to. Turner was passed over by the Mets brass in spring training, when they signed Brad Emaus out of the rule-5 draft. Emaus lasted just two weeks before being released and replaced by the blue-collared Turner.

    I do not expect Turner to be a starter when the team is fully healthy. I do think he serves as great backup at 2B and/or 3B, and a guy who can provide key pinch-hit at bats and sacrifice bunts. Turner is a keeper, but a starter? Don't think so.

     

    Expect the Mets to roll with these 4 guys to compete for the starting gig come 2013. They can shift their free agent objectives elsewhere, as the Mets have a good stable of young talent at the 2B spot.

Shortstop

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    This is a guy who needs little to no introduction. Should the Mets finish above .500 in 2011, you can bet that Reyes, should he remain healthy, will finish in the top 5 if not top 3 of the MVP voting.

    No man has had the impact on his respective team that Jose has had on the Mets in 2011. He's not only given the fans a reason to watch games in 2011, but he's also given the fan-base a reason to believe beyond 2011.

    Before the season it seemed that trading Reyes was a foregone conclusion. Luckily, upper-management came to their senses and squashed those rumors weeks ago in favor of dealing the aging Carlos Beltran.

    It is clear that re-signing Reyes will be priority number one for Alderson come this winter, and it is something that everyone now in the industry is anticipating. The fans want him, the front office wants him, Terry Collins certainly wants him, and most of all Reyes seems to want to stay in Flushing.

    Expect a 29-year old Reyes to take the field on opening day come 2013, and be the centerpiece of their upward trending franchise.

     

    Potential Backups:

    Ruben Tejada (excellent fielding SS, with ability to shift to 2B if needed)

    Jordany Valdespin (solid backup SS option should he lose out on 2B job)

3rd Base

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    The people who claim the Mets must trade Wright in order to keep Reyes are either uneducated or simply brainless.

    First of all, David Wright is under team control through 2013, where his last option year has him making upwards of $15 Million. Therefore, barring a shocking trade that jettisons the franchise 3B elsewhere, you can bet one way or another that D-Wright will be taking the field on opening day along side Jose Reyes (what a concept!).

    If it were up to David Wright, a Norfolk Virginia native and life-long Mets fan, he'd here in Flushing until he retires. If it were up to Sandy Alderson and Co. the same is true. So Mets fans, you can expect the left-side of the infield to remain intact as both Reyes and Wright enter their prime years.

    Wright will likely slot in as the teams 3-hitter with Ike Davis behind him, barring a blockbuster move or signing. He will sign for anywhere between 7-10 years for $150-200 million range either right before or right after the 2013 season.

    Let's put it this way, if A-Rod garners 10 years at $25 million per at age 32, Wright will be sure to ask for a similar price at 29. And the Mets are stupid to not reward Wright, who's been through it all with the Mets.

     

    Potential Backups:

    - Daniel Murphy

    - Justin Turner

    - Aderlin Rodriguez (currently in Low-A)

    - Zach Lutz (AAA)

     

Left Field

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    As torturous a fact as this is, Mets fans will be stuck with this man in left field for years to come. Bay's contract will run through 2013, and potentially 2014 if he is able to amass 600 plate appearances in 2013, or 500 plate appearances in both 2012 and 2013. Another brilliant vesting option assigned to a player by Omar Minaya.

    I love how K-Rod and Bay's contracts simply ask them to show up to the ballpark rather than perform in order to incur a lucrative vesting option (i.e. K-Rod's 55 "finished games" and Bay's plate appearances).

    Considering Bay has never amassed any lower than 500 plate appearances since 2004 before last season's season ending concussion, the odds of Bay vesting his option seem good for him and bad for Mets fans.

    Bay has done nothing to this point to justify his long-term contract with the Mets, and he figures to trend downward. Bay will certainly be the last remaining piece of the Minaya era. If you asked any team in the big leagues to take on his contract they'd say no, even if the asking price was a measly sack of sunflower seeds.

    Let's face it, the Mets are stuck with Bay, and can only hope he comes out of his two-season-long "slump." But when a slump lasts that long, you have to figure that there may be no turning back.

    Despite his ludicrous yearly earnings, Bay will suffice as a serviceable 6-hitter by 2013.

    Potential Backups:

    - Lucas Duda

    - Kirk Niuwenhuis (out for year-AAA)

    - Matt Den Dekker (AA)

    - Jason Pridie

Center Field

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    This is perhaps the greatest question mark for the 2013 New York Mets. The Mets don't have much money committed beyond the 2012 season, which could lead to free agent spending at the Center Field position. The free agent possibilities leading into 2013 at the Centerfield position are intriuging.

     

    Center Field Free Agents after 2012 season:

    1. Matt Kemp

    2. Josh Hamilton

    3. B.J. Upton

    4. Michael Bourn 

    5. Shane Victorino

    6. Angel Pagan

    7. Marlon Byrd

    (The crop for this upcoming off-season is dismal at best)

    The Mets figure to hold on to Pagan through 2012, but letting him walk after that is highly likely. Pagan is older than people think (30 years old) and outside of his 2010 breakout yeat, he's proven to be a viable 4th outfielder and nothing more. He's continued such production this year.

    The Mets will look to upgrade in centerfield, either from within or via free agency. If they can somehow get their hands on Kemp, they'd possibly come away with the best free agent signing in franchise history.

    Kemp is an animal, and a 26-year old one at that. He'll be 28 when he hits the open market after the 2012 season, and will likely command the most money of any free agent out there. The odds the Mets sign him are very low.

    Josh Hamilton figures to stay in Texas, and B.J. Upton is certainly a wild card. David Wright and B.J. Upton are great friends as both grew up near each other, but who knows if that will factor in.

    Some of the options within the organization are:

    - Angel Pagan

    - Kirk Niuwenhuis (previously listed as a potential LF backup)

    - Cory Vaughn (son of Greg Vaughn who's been mashing since being drafted last year),

    - Cesar Puello (AA),

    - Fernando "F-Mart" Martinez (AAA).

    Many of the above options will also appear in the next slide outlining potential Right Fielders.

    If the Mets have the money available to them to obtain Matt Kemp, they need to pursuit that option. Placing him in the 2-3 hole in front of David Wright and behind Jose Reyes would make for one of the best lineups in the NL.

    The Mets farmhands will get first crack at the gig by proving themselves on the lower levels over the next two seasons.

    This field of candidates is too wide open to predict at the moment, but expect to see one of the prospects starting in centerfield come 2013.

    Also of note is 2011 1st round pick Brandon Nimmo, who will likely need more seasoning, but could be groomed as future centerfielder further down the road (he will be profiled later on).

     

Right Field

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    More of the same uncertainty persists in right field. The field of ceterfield candidates previously listed can apply to the rightfield position as well.

    You have to figure that if Fernando Martinez can put together a full 2012 season free of injury that he will get first crack at the starting right field job. But predicting his health is impossible. F-Mart was the prized international signee of 2005, back when he was a mere 16 years old. Since then he has still yet to play a full year and avoid injury. The injuries have certainly stunted his development.

    Despite all of this, the kid is still 22 years old. The average age of a rookie in MLB is 24, so it's unfair to outrightly claim F-Mart is a bust. He deserves a bit more time to prove himself, but make no mistake, his clock is running out.

    Two intriguing free agent options consist of Andre Ethier (another Dodger outfielder) and Carlos Quentin. The Mets may be wise spending their cash elsewhere and hoping that F-Mart or any of their other in house options emerge by 2013.

    You have to throw Nimmo's name in the hat here as well, it is certainly undetermined if he is destined for CF or RF or even LF for that matter. But Nimmo's ETA can't be earlier than 2014 if you had to guess.

    Expect F-Mart, Lucas Duda, Kirk Nuiwenhuis, Angel Pagan, Cesar Puello, Matt Den Dekker, and Cory Vaughn to be battling for the starting CF and RF jobs, with the losers either backing up or platooning at the position. It's a solid group, but with little star-potential.

    If the Mets fail to sign Matt Kemp, they will be looking at young and serviceable options at CF and RF to go along with Bay in left field.

Starting Pitching

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    It is tough to predict what Johan Santana will be post-shoulder surgery. Shoulder surgeries are the worst thing for a pitcher. Elbow's are much easier to come back from. Shoulder surgeries are fickle and vary case by case.

    Nevertheless, Johan is on track to make his comeback in as timely a fashion as we could ask for, which accounts for something. It is a fair prediction to claim that Johan serves as a good ace for the 2013 club, but may never return to his vintage form.

    With Johan leading the pack, the 2013 rotation could be better than we've seen in decades in Flushing. The Mets just made out like bandits, snatching the 6' 3 RHP from San Francisco, Zach Wheeler.

    Wheeler sports a nasty curveball and a plus fastball, and projects as a 1-2 starter for the Mets. He has a 10+ k/9 and a solid K/BB ratio. He is their top prospect and figures to get the call in time for the 2013 season, as he is making his debut for Single-A Port St. Lucie today.

    Last year, Minaya made a nice selection at the number 7 pick in the draft, choosing to take another big righty from UNC named Matt Harvey. Harvey dominated single-A St. Lucie before facing a minor speed-bump at double-A Binghamton this month. Nonetheless, he also sports a 10+ k/9 and a solid 3.30 ERA over both levels. His K/BB ratio is 4:1, which is highly respectable.

    Another name to get familiar with, or should I say familia with, is Jeurys Familia. Another big righty, this one from the Dominican, also sports a 10+ k/9 this year, and dominated single-A before continuing his solid production at double-A. Familia, like Wheeler and Harvey, is younger than 21 and figures to factor into the 2013 rotation.

    The Mets have a very nice 3-some of big, strong, strikeout RHP's to rely on. Hopefully all 3 can factor into the 2013 rotation.

    Jon Niese is having a nice season and figures to be in the franchise's long term plans as well. Below is a projected 2013 and beyond rotation:

    Santana

    Wheeler

    Harvey

    Niese

    Familia

    Other names that will certainly factor in are Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, and Mike Pelfrey. I don't see Pelfrey being a member of the 2013 team, but if he is, he will compete for a rotation spot. 

    Given Mejia's recent Tommy John surgery as well as experience in the bullpen, grooming him as the future closer may make more sense. Gee would make for a nice 5-man in the rotation, but the Mets have suddenly accumulated a young stable of pitching to the point that Gee may be moved or sent to the bullpen.

    The 2013 projected rotation, as you can see, is the major difference between today's team and the future squad. It is what I predict will propel them from mediocrity to relevancy and beyond. If their division cooperates, this rotation will headline a revitalization and contending team for years to come. 

Bullpen

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    Jenrry Mejia, a once promising starting pitching prospect, was summoned to the big leagues a bit too early by Jerry Manuel last season. Placing him in the bullpen stunted his growth as a starter and lead to elbow problems this season, forcing him to be shut down for the remainder of the year.

    Mejia is now an unknown commodity, but one that fans and experts expect to make it back to the big leagues by 2012 or 2013 at the latest. In what capacity is yet to be seen or determined.

    Given the teams depth at starting pitching, the vacating of the closer role (K-Rod trade), and the unique set of circumstances with Mejia, projecting him as the team's future closer is a fair assumption.

    Mejia has a nasty cutter to go along with his fastball... sound like anyone familiar? Moriano Rivera? Ok maybe that's unfair to say. But either way, he measures out to be a formidable choice to close out games early on in his career. The Mets were committed to making him a starter, but that experiment along with the bullpen experiment in 2010, failed. It will be interesting to see where Mejia ends up.

    Parnell is another option for the future closer role, but with Mejia in the mix, keeping him as 8th inning set up man may prove to be the proper move.

    Another name to keep in mind is Josh Edgin, who has been mowing batters down at the single-A level. Between both the low and high-A levels, Edgin, an LHP drafted in the 30th round in 2010, has produced 21 saves to go along with his sparkling 0.86 ERA, 61 K's over 52 innings, and a WHIP below 1.00. He also sports a high ground ball rate. At the very least, this guy seems like a viable lefty specialist, but someone who can maybe pitch the 7th or 8th come 2013 if he keeps up on this pace.

    The Mets have a bunch of other arms to keep an eye on down on the farm. Armando Rodriguez, Darin Gorski, Taylor Whittenton, Chase Huchingson, Chris Schwinden, Erik Goedell, and Greg Peavey are all having solid 2011 campaigns down on the farm. You can bet that a couple of these names will surface as potential bullpen or 5th starter candidates down the road.

    Other than Parnell, the Mets don't seem to have too many guys on their MLB roster that will be featured in the 2013 'pen other than maybe Pedro Beato and RA Dickey or Dillon Gee as a long-men perhaps. Expect to see a makeover of the current bullpen with an infusion of farmhands and free agent acquisitions.

    This upcoming off-season has a free agent pool that is closer rich (there are too many to list), but expect the Mets to hold off on purchasing a closer or any high-profile reliever for that matter. They have the arms from within to fill out their roster, and can allocate their money toward more pressing needs.

Prospects

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    Below is a list of projected prospect rankings for the Mets come 2013. I project that these prospects will not make the roster and will rather serve as the top 7 farmhands for the Mets in 2013.

     

    1. Brandon Nimmo, OF

    2. Wilmer Flores, SS/OF

    3. Michael Fulmer, SP

    4. Cesar Puello, OF

    5. Jefry Marte, 3B

    6. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B

    7. Daniel Muno, 2B

    This is an OK system, but keep in mind this is discounting 2 upcoming drafts, so this class will grow in size and stature with that notion intact.

The Outcome

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    So, how many wins can Terry Collins muster out of this projected 2013 squad. Well he's on pace to finish over .500 with the motley 2011 crew, so with this much improved and youthful group in 2013, 90 wins isn't out of the question. But is 70 wins out of the question? Maybe more so than 90, but this is tough to predict. So much can happen in a baseball season, just ask your average Met fan about the last 5 years.

    I predict somewhere in the 86-94 window of victories for 2013. There are a few question marks to this team, but it's nothing Sandy Alderson can't turn into a plus sign given the money that can be made available to him after the 2011 season so long as the team doesn't default.

    Collins is a top-notch manager, who's clearly gotten the most out of his 2011 team. We should expect the same in 2013, with a much improved squad.

    The only thing standing in the Mets way is the tough division they live in.

    The Nationals will be a force by 2013 with the promotions of Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and potentially Anthony Rendon.

    The Marlins are never an easy out.

    The Phils will still be intact and still treacherous in 2013.

    And the Braves may have the best future ahead of them of any of the 5 teams.

    Perhaps the Mets can hope for realignment by then. But even if they don't win the division, they will be contenders come 2013, mark that down.