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2013 New York Mets: One Fan's View
Matt Harvey - Help is Coming
Reality vs. Optimism
I’ve had enough.
Last year I wrote several blogs about the Mets and what I thought of each position and where I thought the team was going. I decided to wait this year because, to be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure what I think about them.
As you may already know, I am a huge baseball fan and I’ve been a Mets fan since I could see my Mets on baseball cards in 1979 and WWOR-TV Channel 9 here in New York. I’m not a fly-by-night fan. I’ve watched them suck, and I remember screaming my head off in 1986 LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY. I’ve been around the block with this team. I’ve lived for it, died with it, even cried in 1988 when Mike Scoscia hit his home run off Doc in the playoffs (which I just knew was going to happen). I’ve seen the young guns of the 80’s come up and absolutely destroy the National League and I watched the young guns come up in the 90’s and destroy themselves as Generation K couldn’t seem to get out of a hospital bed.
I’ve seen highly touted prospects do nothing, hello Alex Escobar. I’ve seen no-name prospects come up and do everything, hello Ty Wigginton and Jeff Keppinger. I remember watching the 2000 World Series implode as Armando Benitez was, well, Armando Benitez. I couldn’t understand trading Appier for Mo Vaughn. I knew Roberto Alomar was a huge mistake (even though we traded the aforementioned Alex Escobar in that deal) and, well, you get the picture – I’ve seen it all.
But I still don’t know what I think about our current situation.
We have a few good players on this team and we have some question marks as well. I think we have some pitching chips in the minors but not a whole lot else. I’ll try to examine the team as fairly as I can though I know I am a bit more optimistic than some older folks (my Uncle Murray who I spoke to this past weekend was not impressed at all).
First Baseman: Ike Davis
Will the real Ike Davis please stand up? I think Ike has a solid glove at first base and can be a huge offensive force. He hasn’t proven he can do it consistently yet and that’s starting to worry me. He needs to put up solid numbers for a whole season. His 2011 season was essentially a broader look at his career. He was awful in the first half, great in the second but wasn’t consistent at all. He certainly has 30-HR power so I’d like to see him figure it out and be a mainstay at first for a few years.
Second Base: Daniel Murphy
I’ve always liked Daniel Murphy. The man can flat out hit. He is not a prospect anymore and he seems to have figured out how to stay on the field (instead of taking shots on the double-play turn that landed him on the DL). That being said, I still think he is a good trade chip and I would be happy with Justin Turner playing second base. Neither one of them is a long term answer at second base.
Shortstop: Ruben Tejada
He’s not Jose Reyes – and he doesn’t need to be. He seems to know that already which is good. He seems like a smart player but he needs to keep hitting. He’s usually a smooth fielder but he needs to keep his head in the game and his bat on the ball. I don’t think we have anyone else who could reasonably play shortstop so like him or not, we’re stuck with him. Wilmer Flores may be an option someday.
Third Base: David Wright
There isn’t much left to say about David. He’s the face of the franchise and the captain of the team. By the time he finishes, he will have every Met batting record except triples. He’s a star, maybe not a superstar but I’d like to see management surround him with another veteran star or two. David tends to take a lot of the pressure onto himself and as the lone long-time veteran on the team, that makes some sense, but David was at his best when he was able to share the responsibilities with other veterans like Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado.
Left Field: Lucas Duda
We’re still waiting for Mr. Duda to become “the Dude”. I think he can be. He certainly has the power, now he just needs to connect more. Sounds simple I know but I think he can do it. If he hits .270 with 20+ home runs I think Mets fans would be ok with that. His defense will never be stellar but that’s OK if he’s hitting.
Center Field: Colin Cowgill/Kirk Niewenhuis
I don’t know enough about either player yet. We saw a bit of Kirk last year and I liked what I saw except for the strikeouts. He needs to shorten his swing and hit more grounders to utilize his speed. He’s a plus defender but he needs to hit and he hasn’t proven that he can yet. Colin is a max effort kind of guy (reminds me of Lenny Dykstra) and I like him but we need to see him over a year to see what he really has to offer. There isn’t anyone in the system to plug in here so a free-agent (maybe Jacoby Ellsbury) makes some sense long term.
Right Field: Marlon Byrd
I’ve always liked Marlon Byrd. That being said, he could hit 50 home runs this year and he still wouldn’t be the long term solution. Byrd isn’t a kid and if he has a great year, he will sign somewhere else next year. So far, I like what he gives the Mets and he’s a veteran who can help David Wright handle the load a little bit.
Catcher: John Buck
Veteran catcher who has started off the year strong offensively. I’m impressed with him and I like having him teach the young pitchers. He isn’t a long term solution as a starter since we have Travis D’Arnaud waiting in the wings but I would like to see Buck handle most of this year, especially if the Mets bring up some of the young pitching around mid-year as we all think they will. What he did with Matt Harvey in his second start shows the advantages of having a smart veteran catcher behind the plate. I would love to see Buck start most of the year and then give the kid a September call-up.
Starting Rotation: Niese, Harvey, Gee, Hefner and Whoever
Niese, Harvey and Gee have shown they can pitch well. Hefner I’m not sure about, some days he’s good, other days he doesn’t have it and no amount of help is enough. The fifth spot is whoever is filling in for Shaun Marcum which stinks. He’s the only major-league talent the Mets spent money on this off-season and he’s hurt, maybe indefinitely. I think the Mets will pull off a trade soon to shore up the pitching staff. The Dodgers have some extra starters. I like the young guns and I think we will see Zach Wheeler and maybe Rafael Montero this year. There is no need to rush these guys so if they aren’t ready in June or July, I really have no interest in seeing them.
Parnell is closing, finally, maybe. The other parts in there, two youngsters and a few old veterans make a good mix and they seem to be doing a good job so far. This has been the Achilles heel for the Mets for years so it will be interesting to see how this group performs.
Manager and Coaches:
I’ve been thrilled with Terry Collins and I think the Mets do themselves a discredit by not resigning him immediately. I think the young guys are comfortable with him and the veterans understand he’s an old-school type of manager. The coaches will take some time to shake out. I like using former players I watched as a kid, coaching games. I like Tim Teufel’s aggressiveness at third and I think Dan Warthen can teach the young guys well enough.
What Do I Think We’ll See?
Well, I don’t think this team has the horses to contend with the big boys this year, there are just too many thin spots on the team to cover. I think David Wright and Ike Davis will be very good. I’d like to think Lucas Duda figures it out too. John Buck will not continue to hit like he has so far this year but he will continue to be a steadying influence on the young pitching. I think if Zach Wheeler shows up in the minors, we’ll see him at the All-Star Break, possibly Montero as well. Aaron Laffey will go away. Johan Santana is done as a Met. If we see Shaun Marcum I will be pleasantly surprised, when healthy he is an effective starter. The bullpen, after years of overspending on this bunch, will be better with the young arms they have in there. Travis D’Arnaud shows up in September with Wilmer Flores and some pitchers we don’t know yet. If Marlon Byrd plays well in the first half, he’ll be trade bait at the deadline which might be very useful. Looking ahead to next offseason I don’t see lots of help so we need to trade for some talent first. Can this team hang around at the 500 mark? Maybe, but I think we are looking at a slightly less than .500 team. With some smart moves and spending, this team could be a force next year. What I would say to Mets fans is this – the local newspapers write a lot about how the Mets look at other teams and wish we had a certain player. Read it if you want, then throw it in the trash. Just because the Marlins have a great prospect doesn’t mean we are pining away for him. We have some of our own that everyone else wants too. We’ve been a patient bunch for a few years now, hold on and let’s see what Alderson can do with some money to spend since Freddy says he can spend money now.