During last night’s ESPN telecast of the Mets victory over the Braves, the announcers mentioned that the Mets have several “building blocks” but also several “question marks.”
At this point, the question marks far outweigh the building blocks, which is why the team has had moments of mediocrity this season.
There is still a month and half to play, but barring a miracle, the Mets would be wise to start turning their focus to next season.
I’ve compiled a breakdown of who fits the bill of a “building block” and who fits into the category of “question marks.”
David Wright: Yes, he’s in a bit of a cold streak, but even with that streak, he’s still hitting .320. The Mets must lock him up this offseason to a long-term deal. It would be painful watching him suit up for another team if a deal can’t be worked out. If the Sandy Alderson regime is remembered for doing anything, it better be renewing Wright’s contract.
R.A. Dickey: It’s strange to classify a 37-year-old as a building block, but Dickey fits the bill. He’s a legitimate Cy Young contender this year. He may have an occasionally poor start, but he’s been consistent, which is exactly what the Mets need.
Ruben Tejada: Both offensively and defensively, Tejada has been a diamond in the rough. He’s definitely a player the Mets will look to build around.
Ike Davis: Forget the slow start for a minute. Ike has great power potential and is still growing as a player. Hopefully, experiencing his early season slump will motivate him to never allow himself to go through that kind of stretch again.
Jon Niese: Not only is Niese locked up to a contract anyway, but he’s also begun to show his potential. He’ll put together a string of great starts and then look lost in other starts. He needs to be consistent like Dickey, and he’ll be a mainstay in the rotation.
Daniel Murphy: Murph has really silenced the critics who said he would be a butcher defensively. He’s been a solid fielder — not necessarily a Gold Glover, but a more than capable defender. Despite a midseason slump, he’s swinging the bat like the Murphy we know. Definitely a building block, but more of a role player.
Jordany Valdespin: The only way we are going to see what he can do is to see him everyday. Frankly, I’d like to see more of him in center field. He has the tools, but he now just needs the drive.
Lucas Duda: For some reason, I have a good feeling about Duda. He probably felt somewhat embarrassed being sent down after being with the big club for a year. Even if he turns into an Adam Dunn-type player, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it? Dunn strikes out a ton and hits for a low average, but he consistently hits home runs, drives in runs and draws walks.
Matt Harvey: A few very good starts from the youngster, but of course he gets no run support. He’ll likely be the fourth or fifth starter for next season.
Dillon Gee: Hoping for a swift recovery for Gee. He has turned himself into a capable back-of-the-rotation option.
Mike Baxter and Josh Edgin: I’d love to see these two guys with the team next year. Baxter is a solid fourth outfielder/pinch hitting option, and other than a few poor outings, Edgin has been a reliable reliever.
This is actually a significant amount of building blocks. Of course, many are nice role players, but you still need them to form a team. Now onto the question marks.
Johan Santana: Did the no-hitter negatively affect him? Probably not, but of course everybody points to that 134-pitch performance as the reason for his ineffectiveness. Maybe with Dickey stepping up this year, much of the pressure will be off Santana to be the staff ace. Still, the Mets need Santana to be consistently effective. They’re paying him a lot of money right now to be a sub-.500 pitcher. Big question mark.
Jason Bay: It’s looking like Bay is going to be on the roster next season, Mets fans, so get used to it. Maybe he’ll figure it out, maybe he won’t, but he’ll be given every chance to success (or fail). Maybe a Bay/Baxter platoon in left field, or even a Bay/Valdespin platoon would work. There has to be some sort of cutoff point though for Bay. If he’s hitting .150 by the All-Star break next year, it really is time to cut ties — and even that timeframe is being generous.
Bobby Parnell: Consistency, consistency, consistency. Parnell has the stuff to be a closer in this league, but he lacks consistency, which has been his downfall this season. The Mets will need him to be one of their main contributors next year out of the bullpen, so hopefully he can figure out how to be consistent.
The rest of the bullpen: Once again, expect much turnover in the Mets bullpen. I wouldn’t mind seeing Frank Francisco back, but not as the closer. Maybe through the trade, the Mets can bring in a legitimate closer. Don’t know who, but if money is again going to be tight, trades may be the only option. Maybe we’ll see Jenrry Mejia in next year’s bullpen. Even Manny Acosta has looked decent since being recalled. But again, the bullpen is a major question mark for this team.
Catcher: It’s time the Mets got some offensive production from the catcher’s position. It would be one thing is Josh Thole was leading the league in throwing out runners, but he isn’t. Here’s another spot where maybe a trade comes into play.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Kirk had the inside track to being the 2013 Mets starting center fielder, but then he fell flat. His strikeout pace was ridiculous. Like Duda, maybe getting sent down will light a fire under him for next season. He’s hurt now, so spring training will be big for him. He’s fantastic defensively, but he needs to get his swing in order.
Zack Wheeler: Only put on the question mark list since it will be a much-debated question about how the Mets will utilize him. It’s super unlikely that he makes a start this September. Maybe the Mets bring him up midseason next year like they did with Harvey this year. If there is a competition for the fifth starter, he’ll likely be in it. Best bet though, start the season in the minors. If the team isn’t going to be significantly improved, there’s no point in rushing Wheeler.
So there you have it. At a quick glance, it seems there are more building blocks that questions marks. The problem is that the magnitude of the question marks (Santana, Bay, bullpen) far outweighs that of the building blocks.
Patience might be the only answer to deal with the question marks.