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2013 Preview: New York Mets

Mar 15, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Getty Images

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The New York Mets.

The Big Question: Can David Wright carry the Mets to .500?

The Mets are in a transition period. The outfield is thin, the bullpen is thin, the starting rotation is a combination of young arms and injury-prone veterans, and the infield aside from David Wright is lacking. Here’s how good Wright was compared to the rest of his teammates last year: according to FanGraphs, he was worth a team-best 7.8 Wins Above Replacement. The next-best on offense? Ruben Tejada at 2.1. Among pitchers, only the now-departed R.A. Dickey challenged at 4.6.

Having added very little via free agency during the off-season, the Mets are hoping a young core can make steady progress while the veterans stay healthy and avoid pitfalls. They have already dealt with their first bit of adversity when closer Frank Francisco’s elbow started bothering him. Though he may be ready by Opening Day, 28-year-old Bobby Parnell with 17 career saves will take over the ninth inning in his stead.

25-year-old first baseman Ike Davis disappointed last season, finishing with a .227 average and .308 on-base percentage despite 32 home runs. Soon-to-be 24-year-old Matt Harvey is expected to improve on ten impressive starts in his first taste of MLB action last year, when he posted a 2.73 ERA and averaged nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings. Center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis will need to recapture his April magic from last year, when he hit .325.

On the flip side, they will need veterans Johan Santana (back), Shaun Marcum (elbow), and Francisco to stay healthy. But even if everything goes right, it’s hard to see them finishing above .500, though stranger things have happened.

What else is going on? 

  • Johan Santana had some issues with the Mets not too long ago, but those have apparently been settled. GM Sandy Alderson criticized the lefty for not arriving to camp “in pitching shape”. That upset Santana, who threw unscheduled from a mound a day later. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News described Santana’s anger as “palpable”. While one would hope these issues are put to bed forever, you never know what may rise to the surface should the Mets or Santana specifically get off to a slow start.
  • David Wright has been on fire during the World Baseball Classic for Team USA. In 17 at-bats, the third baseman has seven hits including one home run (a grand slam) and ten RBI, a good harbinger for the upcoming regular season. Despite having his best season since 2008, Wright finished sixth in NL MVP voting but it would surprise no one if he went home with some hardware after the 2013 season.
  • You might see prospect Zack Wheeler at some point during the season, most likely as a September call-up when rosters expand. Acquired from the San Francisco Giants in the Carlos Beltran trade, Wheeler posted a 3.26 ERA in 149 innings spent between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo, mostly in Double-A. Baseball America rated him the #11 overall prospect heading into this season, so you can imagine the excitement Mets have with a future rotation that may include  him and Matt Harvey.
  • The Mets moved in the fences after the 2011 season, hoping to inspire more offense, but it didn’t seem to work. Their collective .726 home OPS in 2011 dropped to .679 last year. It could have been a fluke, but I don’t think Citi Field’s dimensions are at the root of their offensive issues.

Prediction: Fourth place, National League East.

  1. liamj55 - Mar 15, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    The Mets. LOL

    • Gobias Industries - Mar 15, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Good one.

  2. mybrunoblog - Mar 15, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    David Wright is on a plane to New York for an MRI on his injured rib cage. That could be very very bad. The Mets wont sniff .500 this year. I say 75 wins tops.

    • American of African Descent - Mar 15, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      75 wins? I’ll take the under.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Mar 15, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Weird…I did a search on “Wilpon” and no results were found. Oh yeah, they only bash the owner of the Marlins around here. What a disgrace. The Mutts are in the biggest market in baseball and they are putting out this crappy team and not a single word spoken about how truly awful their owners are. The Mutts payroll was actually LOWER than the Marlins last year and it is going to be even lower this year.

    The Wilpons are TERRIBLE for baseball..

    • Gobias Industries - Mar 15, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      May I suggest typing “Wilpon” in the search bar in the upper right-hand corner of your screen? There have been quite literally dozens of posts on HBT about the Wilpons’ financial woes and how terrible they are for baseball. The bashing has been plentiful. Always remember, unless you’re a Braves fan, Craig hates all of our favorite teams equally: Phillies, Marlins, Mets…

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      Just out of curiosity why are you defending Loria so vigorously?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 15, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        I’m 100% for fairness. And on HBT, Loria is unfairly criticized and never given credit for anything. He has received ZERO credit for taking a chance in 2012 and increasing the payroll to over $100 million dollars. When the Pirates got their stadium in 2001, it was funded over 80% by the public($180 million of the $220 million cost…$290 in today’s dollars) They increased their payroll to $54 million, but when the stadium was 75% full its inaugural year, their payroll dropped right back down to $42 million. Yet I never once read the words “Kevin McClatchy is bad for baseball”

        Look, Loria is a ruthless businessman, but does what just about every player does…looks to make himself the most money possible. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If he were this evil guy, then there would be reason to kick him out of baseball like everybody wants. And yet…he remains.

        If anybody should be kicked out of baseball, it’s the Wilpons who can’t even afford to have the team anymore after their shady dealings with Bernie Madoff. Yet, last year it was McCourt and this year it is Loria. McCourt was stealing money from the team like it was his own ATM machine, so that was deserved hate. I just don’t see the rationale for hating on Loria. He is no worse than owners of other teams who want to make the most money they can.

      • asimonetti88 - Mar 15, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        “He has received ZERO credit for taking a chance in 2012 and increasing the payroll to over $100 million dollars.”

        He increased it for like 2 months.

      • tsi431 - Mar 15, 2013 at 3:56 PM

        He bought all those players so he can secure a $600 million dollar stadium from the tax payers.

    • chill1184 - Mar 15, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      Your mindless rants at this point are comical.

      Im curious did you fall off the truck yesterday because anyone who follows any type of sports media knows that the Mets are always bashed. The Marlins’ issues only took center stage because of Loria’s history with running the Marlins and when he owned the Expos.

      Heres are some facts

      1. The Mets farm system hasnt had any decent attention to it in the past 15 years. Kinda hard to build a winning team when your farm sucks, baseball isnt football

      2. As Gobias pointed out one can find plenty of articles relating to the Madoff on how it affected the team

      3. The MSM (along with other NL owners) have no interest in shinning a big light on Selig’s blatant hypocrisy regarding Wilpon as opposed to Frank McCourt. The media doesn’t want to lose a punching bag and and an NL team in the biggest market financially crippled helps the rest of the NL teams. If your a business owner and one of your rivals is crippled your just going to stand there and watch. Your a damm liar if you say you wouldnt.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 15, 2013 at 3:04 PM

        First of all…chill, chill. It’s Friday and everybody should be happy and not mocking each other.

        Second, did you happen to check out the Marlins 2013 preview, by Bill just a short time ago? Did you read this line,

        “Let’s be honest, Jeffrey Loria and David Samson are bad for baseball.”

        Third, do you now understand my post, directed pretty much directly to Bill, asking him why he didn’t put anything, not a single freaking reference to the Wilpons when writing the 2013 Mets preview?

        To summarize…according to Bill, Loria is bad for baseball but the Wilpons don’t even warrant a single mention on their 2013 preview. Let’s stick to the comparison between these two specific posts, which is what I have done here.

      • Old Gator - Mar 15, 2013 at 3:33 PM

        Try searching “Wilpoon,” which is a combination of Wilpon and your choice of lampoon or cartoon. Either will work.

        And yeah, it’s Friday. I’m afraid that I can’t get worked up about any market but my own today, and I’ve got a fresh grouper ceviche marinating in the fridge.

  4. The Dangerous Mabry - Mar 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Writing off Ike Davis as just a disappointment isn’t really fair given the way his season actually transpired. He was so historically awful early on (.550 OPS in April, .496 OPS in May) that his season totals end up poor, but after that point, he put together a pretty solid season (.255/.346/.542 in the second half). Should the early season issues be attributed to Valley Fever? Should fans expect to see him play more like his second half? It’s hard to say. But he wasn’t disappointing the whole year, he just started off playing so utterly miserably that his totals ended up pretty weak.

  5. thebadguyswon - Mar 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    The Mets farm is in the top 15 now. And back in 2003 it ranked in the Top 10….so pretty sure your statement about neglecting the farm for 15 years is coming from your rectum.

    • American of African Descent - Mar 15, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      You realize that top 15 is just top 50%, right? Or, in other words, the Mets’ have (i) a league average farm system that (ii) has decreased in ranking over the last ten years. And if the 2003 system was actually #10, and the current system is actually #15, that means that the quality of the farm system has decreased by 50%.

      You would expect a rebuilding team to have a top farm system, not an average farm system.

      • Old Gator - Mar 15, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        Um – last time I tried to follow calculations like that, I was listening to the Tom Lehrer song “New Math.” Just give me numbers I can calculate without having to take my shoes off, will you?

      • American of African Descent - Mar 15, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        Oh, Gator. And to think that I used to hold you in such high regard . . .

      • thebadguyswon - Mar 15, 2013 at 8:23 PM

        Yeah man…I know that it is the top 50%. My point is the farm has improved in the last two years. So “neglected for 15 years” is hyperbole. If you’re going to bring the criticism, be correct at least.

  6. tsi431 - Mar 15, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Only on the Mets, is hitting 32 home runs considered a disappointment.

  7. proudlycanadian - Mar 15, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Poor Bill. You got to do the Marlins and the Mets on the same day. It would only be fair if you were given the Jays.

  8. mungman69 - Mar 15, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    You finally recognized these Mets.

  9. joejacks - Mar 16, 2013 at 6:32 AM

    Loria is bad for baseball. He tricked the fans and taxpayers of Miami that if you give me a new stadium I will give you a competitive baseball team. Well you cannot be competitive with a roster full of young no names and low priced players. Good ol Bud needs to stop BSing around and hammer owners who do this or he should be ousted. Time for the taxpayers to rise up and fight the galactic empire.

  10. mungman69 - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Miami & The Mets in the same division? Creepy. Atlanta, Washington & Philly all make the playoffs.

  11. mungman69 - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    One of the scholarship basketball players from Brandywine transferred to Albany. They are playing Vermont right now to go to March Madness. Bobby Fields transferred from Brandywine to La Salle where he started at forward next to Durette. He then played a little in the ABA.

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