New York Mets
(2012: 74-88, 4th Place NL East)
(2013: FC Prediction: 4th Place NL East)
To say that the Mets are in a rebuilding phase would be an understatement. Looking through their lineup, you will assuredly see a ton of names that you've never heard of. In the off-season, they traded reigning Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays for two quality prospects in catcher Travis D'Arnaud and right hander Noah Syndergaard.
The Mets pitching staff is not bad at all. There are quite a few quality arms there, especially in the starting rotation, but they are in a very tough NL East with three other quality teams in the Nationals, Braves, and Phillies. The Mets are banking that their youngsters will mature and mature fast, as that is the only way I see them being able to compete in 2013.
Let's dig in deeper to the Mets' roster:
Even after trading R.A. Dickey, the Mets still have a solid rotation. Johan Santana, although often injured, is the de facto ace of the staff. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee both return, and are both very consistent. The newcomer to this staff is Shaun Marcum. Marcum has very good stuff, but has been unable to stay healthy, so he is a big question mark. Youngster Matt Harvey got a taste of the big leagues last year, and he proved he belong. I look for Harvey to take a big step and to continue this success in 2013.
The bullpen isn't the best for the Mets. The Closer as of now is Frank Francisco, but he will be pushed by Bobby Parnell. Both closed at times for the Mets last year, and Parnell had a bit more success in the role. The rest of the bullpen will be rounded out by some young, relative unknowns. Competing for the other spots in the pen will be lefties Josh Edgin and Robert Carson, as well as righties Jeurys Familia, Elvin Ramirez, Jeremy Hefner, and Jenrry Mejia.
The Mets have some quality pitching prospects in Zach Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. Wheeler is one of the best pitching prospects in the game and has the stuff to crack the Mets rotation in 2013, if there is a spot for him. Syndergaard still might be at least a year away, but he has the body and the repertoire to be a solid middle of the rotation starting pitcher for a long time in this league.
There are a couple of big time positives in the Mets lineup. Third baseman David Wright is a staple in New York, and he got a big money extension in the off-season to prove it. First baseman Ike Davis might struggle to hit for average, but there is no doubt that he will hit his fair share of home runs. Up the middle, the Mets have Ruben Tejada at shortstop and Daniel Murphy at second base. Neither provide much in terms of speed or power, but they will hit for a decent average and are solid defenders. John Buck will start the year at catcher, but there isn't much standing between top prospect Travis D'Arnaud and the starting job.
Across the outfield, the Mets will run out Lucas Duda in left, Kirk Nieuwenhuis in center, and Mike Baxter in left. Duda has some pop, but the rest of them leave quite a bit to be desired. I don't really expect much production from Nieuwenhuis or Baxter, and this is definitely the glaring hole in the Mets lineup. Utility man Justin Turner might see some time at first, with Ike Davis shifting to right field if Baxter struggles to start.
The Mets have a big time catching prospect in Travis D'Arnaud, who they received for Dickey from Toronto. D'Arnaud is one of the best prospects in the game and there is no doubt in my mind, given the lack of catching depth at the big league level, that he will be up early in the year. He isn't the best defended, but D'Arnaud can flat out hit, and that is something the Mets definitely need in their lineup.
NON-ROSTER INVITEE TO WATCH:
While I usually opt for the pitcher, and the Mets have a couple nice ones in LaTroy Hawkins and Tim Byrdak, the most interesting guy here is Marlon Byrd. After the worst year of his career in 2012 with the Cubs and Red Sox, Byrd looks to bounce back in 2013. With the lack of depth and talent in the Mets outfield, Byrd has a great opportunity here to make the roster out of Spring Training.
The Mets have a couple glaring holes in their lineup, but on the positive side, they can pitch. The rotation is five deep, with a couple young, strong arms on the rise like Mejia and Wheeler. I just don't expect the Mets to be able to keep up with the rest of the NL East. The Braves and Nationals are both great teams, and the Phillies are improved from 2012. 2013 looks to be a rebuilding year for the Mets, but hey, at least they're in the same division as the Marlins, right??
TWITTER ACCOUNT OF THE DAY:
There aren't many Mets who are on the Twitter circuit, but non-roster invite Tim Byrdak gets the nod here. Why is a fringe roster player who might not even make the team getting our Twitter account of the day you ask? Well because his avatar is him dressed as Hulk Hogan of course!! You see what our criteria for this sort of thing is now. Follow him @Givemethelefty