Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The New York Mets have finished fourth in
the National League East in four straight seasons, so the franchise clearly
must turn its eye to the future.
The Mets made sure that David Wright will be part of those plans and also sold
high on 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, sending the knuckleballer
to the Toronto Blue Jays to acquire some more young prospects to fill holes.
Though New York did not land a big-name free agent for a third straight winter
as it continues to emerge from the rubble of the Bernie Madoff fraud scheme,
it feels it replaced Dickey with an adequate arm in Shawn Marcum while
securing a short-term solution behind the plate in John Buck via the Blue Jays
That deal also brought in big-time catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and
highly-regarded right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who is all of 20 years old,
stocking the Mets minor league shelves alongside 22-year-old Zack Wheeler.
Wheeler was acquired from the San Francisco Giants for aging outfielder Carlos
Beltran in 2011 and is ranked as the eighth-best prospect according to
MLB.com, two slots behind d'Arnaud.
The rest of New York's moves this offseason were meant to field a team in 2013
as they brought in 33-year-old reliever Brandon Lyon, 40-year-old bullpen arm
LaTroy Hawkins and outfielder Marlon Byrd.
The fact that Hawkins and Byrd, 35, are likely to make the team after signing
minor league contracts shows just how early on the Mets are in their
rebuilding effort. The disaster that was Jason Bay, signed to a four-year, $65
million deal back in 2010 didn't help much either and New York finally lasered
the wart by buying out the disappointing outfielder for $21 million early in
The Mets have not made the playoffs for six straight seasons and have seen
their win total decrease from 79 to 77 to last season's 74-88 campaign. The
presence of Wright and first baseman Ike Davis mashing homers out of the
corner infield positions gives hope, as does the young arms coming up through
the system, but 2013 could be a long one in Flushing.
Below we take a capsule look at the 2013 edition of the Mets, with a personnel
evaluation and prognosis included therein:
2012 FINISH (74-88) - Fourth Place (NL East)
KEY OFFSEASON ADDITIONS: Shaun Marcum (RHP), John Buck (C), Brandon Lyon
(RHP), Brandon Hicks (INF), Collin Cowgill (OF), Anthony Recker (C), Travis
d'Arnaud (C), Marlon Byrd (OF), LaTroy Hawkins (RHP)
KEY OFFSEASON SUBTRACTIONS: R.A. Dickey (RHP), Jason Bay (OF), Jon Rauch
(RHP), Ramon Ramirez (RHP), Andres Torres (OF), Josh Thole (C), Mike Pelfrey
(RHP), Ronny Cedeno (SS), Scott Hairston (OF), Kelly Shoppach (C), Manny
PROJECTED LINEUP: Collin Cowgill/Jordany Valdespin (CF), Daniel Murphy (2B),
David Wright (3B), Ike Davis (1B), Lucas Duda (LF), Marlon Byrd (RF), John
Buck (C), Ruben Tejada (SS)
PROJECTED ROTATION: Johan Santana (LHP), Jon Niese (LHP), Matt Harvey (RHP),
Shaun Marcum (RHP), Dillon Gee (RHP)
PROJECTED CLOSER: Frank Francisco (RHP)/Bobby Parnell (RHP)
MANAGER: Terry Collins
WHY DID THE METS TRADE DICKEY?
Having a Cy Young winner in your rotation is usually a good thing for the
future, but Dickey is 38 years old and had won just 41 games in his first nine
seasons before last year's 20-6 record.
Yes, Dickey's 2.73 earned run average in 2012 was a career best and
knuckleballers do have longevity, but giving the righty the long-term deal he
wanted would still have been a gamble. While it was probably hard to deal a
starter who went 39-28 with a 2.95 ERA in three seasons with the Mets, the
return haul for New York puts it in a better position down the road.
Of course, the loss of Dickey would be easier to sell if Johan Santana was
ready to take the ball on Opening Day, but that won't be the case because of
left shoulder fatigue.
Santana, a two-time Cy Young winner, pitched himself into Mets lore by
throwing the franchise's first ever no-hitter on June 1 and appeared to be on
his way to returning at full strength from a left shoulder surgery that held
him out of the entire 2011 campaign. But after throwing a career-high 134
pitches in his no-hitter, Santana went 3-5 with a 6.54 earned run average in
eight starts and eventually landed on the disabled list due to a sprained
right ankle. He returned for two more starts and yielded 14 runs over 6 1/3
innings before missing the rest of the campaign due to a back injury.
The Mets didn't anticipate any problems with Santana, who has a $25 million
club option for next season, going into 2013, but they were also displeased
with the shape that the left-hander came into camp in and he could begin the
season on the DL.
That leaves Marcum, Opening Day starter Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee
to fill out the rotation, with Wheeler likely to join the mix midseason like
the 23-year-old Harvey did last year.
Marcum, who like Dickey doesn't blow hitters away and excels with control,
went 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts last season, but missed just over two
months of action due to an elbow injury. Gee, meanwhile, hasn't pitched in the
majors since July 7 following emergency surgery due to a blood clot in his
DOES WRIGHT HAVE ANY HELP?
He better, because the star third baseman is already primed to begin the
season battling a strained left intercostal muscle that knocked him out of the
World Baseball Classic early.
Wright, a six-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, was plagued by a
back injury in 2011, but hit .306 with 21 homers and 93 RBI in 156 games a
season ago. That was good enough for the Mets, who locked up their all-time
leader in hits, runs, walks and runs batted in with an eight-year, $138
million contract over the winter and also named him the fourth captain in team
history just prior to the start of the season.
New York will hope that his latest injury won't linger all season and that he
can get some help in a lineup that was middle of the road last season with a
collective .249 average, 139 homers and 625 RBI.
Davis, who was hitting just .208 at the end of July before batting .264 with
12 homers and 30 RBI over his final 57 games, is the most likely to help and
will hit cleanup behind Wright but needs to find consistency.
There are a lot of questions after that. New York will try to find a leadoff
hitter out of center fielder Collin Cowgill, shortstop Ruben Tejada or even
infielder/outfielder Jordany Valdespin and the outfield as a whole lacks an
Some excitement could come when d'Arnaud is given a shot at the big-league
level. Like Wheeler, d'Arnaud is expected to get some more seasoning in the
minors, where he hit .333 with 16 homers in 67 games at the Triple-A level
last season before a knee injury, and should take over for Buck by midseason.
HOW SOLID IS THE BACK END OF THE METS' BULLPEN?
Frank Francisco was slotted to be the club's closer again in 2013, but his
season will be delayed due to inflammation in his right pitching elbow. That
came after he had surgery over the winter to remove bone spurs from the area.
The Mets converted just 36 of their 55 save chances last season, with
Francisco going 1-3 with a 5.53 ERA and 23 saves in 26 opportunities in 48
games. Meanwhile, Bobby Parnell blew five of his 12 save chances and
jettisoned reliever Jon Rauch only converted half of his eight chances.
New York has long hoped that Parnell will emerge as a possible ninth-inning
solution, but the 28-year-old posted a 5.75 ERA in save situations a season
ago and is 14-for-31 lifetime in save chances. Still, he'll get the first
crack at filling in for Francisco and could keep the job full-time.
The Mets parted ways with a number of their bullpen arms walk after the 2012
season, including Rauch, Ramon Ramirez and Manny Acosta and brought Lyon in to
fill a set-up spot after he posted a combined 3.10 ERA in 67 games last season
with the Houston Astros and Blue Jays.
X-FACTOR: LUCAS DUDA, OF
Duda occupied this spot last season too but only hit .239 with 15 homers, 57
RBI and 120 strikeouts in 121 games. That earned him some time in Triple-A and
with the Mets devoid of a spark in the outfield they would really love for the
27-year-old to take a big step forward and finally fill the void left by the
2011 Beltran trade.
Duda, coming off right wrist surgery in November, struggles on defense and
he'll need to produce at the plate to make up for those deficiencies. Finding
his power stroke will help and New York appears to hoping that will be the
case after not bringing in any real competition for his spot in left field.
The Mets are making small steps towards turning things around, but a lot of
that is dependent on youth. The pressure is off in keeping Wright happy now
that he has signed on for the rebuilding so 2013 will be all about the young
guys. It is also likely to be the final year for Santana in the Big Apple and
his pending exit after the season will completely turn the page. New York's
bullpen could be decent if Parnell finally realizes his potential and
Francisco comes back healthy, while the likes of Davis, Duda, Niese and Harvey
will also dictate how successful the season will be. The offense just doesn't
seem to be there, though, for the Mets and they will mostly just be eating up
the clock until d'Arnaud and Wheeler arrive.
The Sports Network