They lost R.A. Dickey but kept David Wright. More importantly, the Mets' owners might have actually sorted out their financial mess. With potential money to spend and some top prospects on their way, 2013 could be the start of the Mets' resurgence.
Mets on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Hope for the Hopeless
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I’m a Dreamer (11:30 AM)
2013 Burning Question (12:45 PM)
This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM)
X-Factor (3:15 PM)
Top Ten Prospects (4:30 PM)
Depth Chart (as of 2/19)
C: John Buck
1B: Ike Davis
2B: Daniel Murphy
SS: Ruben Tejada
3B: David Wright
LF: Lucas Duda
CF: Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Collin Cowgill
RF: Mike Baxter/Andrew Brown
SP: Johan Santana
SP: Shaun Marcum
SP: Jon Niese
SP: Matt Harvey
SP: Dillon Gee
CL: Bobby Parnell
It isn't a new face, but the Mets off-season was a rousing success simply because they were able to lock up David Wright to a long-term extension. The length and money of the deal might be a regret three years from now, but the move was absolutely necessary to prevent Mets fans from staging a full-scale revolt. After the Wright extension, the additions are decidedly less high profile. Shaun Marcum was a nice one-year gamble to fill out the rotation spot vacated by R.A. Dickey while Brandon Lyon, Scott Atchison and LaTroy Hawkins were imported as the latest batch of veteran retread middle relievers. The only other acquisition of note was Collin Cowgill, who will join the fray that is the competition for playing time in the Mets outfield.
Under most circumstances losing Andres Torres and Scott Hairston via free agency wouldn't be of much concern, but for the Mets, they could well be missed. They also had to rebuild their bullpen after letting Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez walk away. But none of those departures are of any real consequence. The real loss of note was defending NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in the off-season after the Mets failed to reach an accord on a long-term contract extension for the fan-favorite knuckleballer. Moving Dickey left a big hole in the Met rotation, but one they hope they can fill with youngsters like Matt Harve and Zack Wheeler. What they won't be able to fill is his popularity with a fan base that ownership has been antagonizing for years.
The big question in Mets training camp will be whether or not Tyler D'Arnaud, who might well be the best catching prospect in baseball, can win the starting catcher job on Opening Day. There is little doubt that D'Arnaud will be getting a call up at some point, so it is really just a question of when and how big his impact will be on a Mets lineup that isn't very deep. The other big name to watch is the Mets top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. Like D'Arnaud, his promotion is expected in 2013, only Wheeler doesn't have an obvious opening to pursue at this point, but given the injury question marks in the Mets rotation, and opportunity should present itself before long.
The Mets outfield projects to be one giant position battle royal. Nobody has a guaranteed starting spot and maybe not even a guaranteed roster spot at this point. The only outfielder currently projected to be a full-timer is Lucas Duda and that is more of a function of the Mets thus far being unable to find him a proper platoon partner. The fact that Marlon Byrd has a shot at earning a platoon job should tell you all you need to know about the dearth of talent in the Mets outfield. The other major area of concern is at the back end of the bullpen where incumbent closer Frank Francisco declared his elbow to be "zero percent" healthy. Until Francisco gets healthy, and maybe even afterwards, the job is now Bobby Parnell's to lose. He's coming off a very good season, but consistency issues have left manager Terry Collins with a pretty short leash when it comes to Parnell, so don't be surprised to see veteran Brandon Lyon get a shot a closing simply because he has history of closing, even if the history is spotty at best. There's even a chance that the Mets could be the team to finally bite the bullet and sign Jose Valverde to see if he has anything left in the tank.
The Mets rotation certainly has promise but it also has all kinds of medical red flags. Johan Santana is the most obvious concern with his history of shoulder problems, not to mention his various other ailments that sidelined him last season. Right behind him is free agent addition Shaun Marcum who has had problems with every part of his pitching in the last few years. Dillon Gee is also on the comeback trail after he had his 2012 season cut short by a blood clot in his shoulder. Jon Niese missed time late last season with a heart problem, but it is not beleived to be a long-term concern. In the bullpen, it seems likely that closer Frank Francisco is a lost cause due to his troublesome elbow. On the position player side, Lucas Duda will have to prove he is recovered after off-season wrist surgery and Ike Davis will have to avoid his annual freak injury/illness.
Can the Mets possibly go forward with this patchwork outfield?
With the NL East stacked with the likes of the Nationals and Braves, the best the Metropolitans can probably hope for is snagging a Wild Card spot. If everything goes their way, they can ride a healthy rotation to a surprisingly good start that convinces the ownership to make good on their recent proclamation that their financial woes are behind them and become major players at the trade deadline to go out and acquire some significant help for their beleaguered outfield and keep the Mets in the mix for Wild Card spot until the very end of the season.
Worst case scenario and the Mets just kind of go together at this point, no? With so little depth, all it takes is some bad luck with Santana's elbow, Marcum's shoulder or Ike Davis' anything and the Mets suddenly look pretty bad. Mix in Matt Harvey struggling in his second time around the league, David Wright crumbling under the pressure of his big new contract and Zack Wheeler and Tyler D'Arnaud both suffering setbacks at Triple-A that delays their arrival in the majors until 2014 and suddenly the Mets will be glad that the Marlins are so awful, thus sparing them the indignity of a last place finish in the NL East.
This season feels more like a transitional one for the Mets. They've locked up their franchise cornerstone in David Wright and replenished their farm system thanks to the Dickey trade, putting them in position to contend in the near future, just not this season. Instead, the team uses the season to evaluate youngsters and role players to decide who sticks around for 2014 and beyond. A sneaky good rotation and the emergence of prospects like D'Arnaud and Wheeler could serve as the backbone for a feisty Mets team that puts up a respectable .500 record that leaves fans dreaming big for next season.