Ken Davidoff of the NY Post projects a very rosy outlook for the Mets now that the team has signed third baseman David Wright. He speculates that with Wright firmly entrenched as the Mets cornerstone, the pieces of a playoff team are falling into place.
The long-term starting rotation has Jon Niese (signed to a team-friendly deal), Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee, and if R.A. Dickey truly is open to an extension that lasts only through 2015, then the Mets should go ahead and keep the 38-year-old knuckleballer, making them long-shot playoff contenders while Wright is at his best. Wright has agreed to structure his contract like a bell curve so that he’ll earn fewer dollars in the beginning and end of the deal. That should give the 2013 Mets some needed payroll flexibility.
Wright anchors an infield that also features shortstop Ruben Tejada and first baseman Ike Davis — Daniel Murphy is a respectable stopgap at second base — and that unit can get you into the playoffs.
That leaves the Mets with an outfield, a bullpen and a catching situation to fix.
Here’s the thing… even with Wright signed for eight years, this is still the same team that went 74- 88 last season, our fourth losing season in a row.
I’m not quite sold yet on Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy up the middle. I love both players, but each have flaws that make them less than optimal in the way they are used. I wish Tejada had the speed to bat at the top of the order, or an OPS that wasn’t south of .700. I wish Daniel Murphy had more home run power, and was more defensively inclined at second base. On the positive side, I think Wright and Ike Davis form a dynamic combination at the corners, and that it’s the one area of the team that can be relied upon both offensively and defensively. Although I would have preferred a six-year deal, the Mets could not afford to lose David Wright – he’s the only sure thing on this entire team.
The starting pitching, led by R.A. Dickey, had a solid season overall, but they will be hard-pressed to repeat those results in 2013. It would be naive to think Dickey can be relied upon to pitch at historic levels again moving forward. He had a dream season – a once in a lifetime season, and we won’t see that happen again. I do hope Dickey comes back next season because right now he is our Rock of Gibraltar in the rotation. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee continue to develop nicely and are good middle of the rotation pitchers.
Matt Harvey had a nice ten start debut, but is he the pitcher who had a 2.73 ERA in those ten MLB starts, or the pitcher who had a 4.23 ERA and 1.340 WHIP in his last 32 minor league starts? I love the enthusiasm from the fans, but considering the Mets history with pitching prospects over the last three decades, lets temper expectations a bit until we know what we truly have. Speaking of unrealistic expectations, poor Zack Wheeler is already being penciled in as the ace of the team when he finally arrives to Flushing. That’s so unfair to him and you would think most Met fans would have learned their lesson by now. Last night we cut Mike Pelfrey, the first rounder that was also going to be our ace for the next ten seasons. Things happen.
As for Johan, next season will be his last with the Mets, and the team will take whatever they can get out of him. Maybe we get lucky because nothing can motivate a player more than huge stacks of money and 2013 is Santana’s walk-year.
So that is the infield and the rotation that Davidoff believes have the makings of a playoff team. I’m sorry, but color me unimpressed. I’m just not seeing it…
Lets look at the three primary areas of concern for the Mets…
Finding three everyday outfielders from a group of Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt den Dekker and Brandon Nimmo is quite the monumental task. (Yes, Davidoff mentioned Brandon Nimmo.) We still haven’t found an everyday right fielder since some dude named Strawberry hitched a ride to Los Angeles 25 years ago. The greatest center fielder in team history was sent packing in 2011 and now it’s a black hole. Our 4-year plan in left field turned into a 3-year nightmare that only just now ended. I’m sorry, but it might be five years or more before this outfield is playoff caliber, and that depends on if the Mets have the bucks and the guts to bring in a bonafide bat at one of the corners through free agency or trade. Magic wands only work in fairy tales.
I’m not even going to rehash what you all already know about the catching and bullpen situations. But I’ll simply say that someone should tell the government to officially declare the bullpen a disaster area. Maybe FEMA could do a better job of revamping the bullpen than this front office has done in their first two attempts. We have to stop calling Josh Thole a catcher. He’s just a nice guy who crouches behind home plate and tries to stop baseball from getting by him. He has no stick and provides little if anything to this team.
Look this team is far from a playoff team, and signing David Wright to that longterm deal didn’t make us one. We have a lot of work to do before we can dance with the likes of the Braves, Phillies and Nationals.
As it stands, if Scott Hairston’s offense goes unreplaced we are a worse team than the one that finished fourth place last season. Lets keep things in the here and now. Trust me… When it’s time to start having visions of playoffs dancing in your heads, I’ll give you the cue. For those of you into baseball betting, the Mets are a 50-1 shot to make the playoffs.
I’m back home just for the weekend, and then I’m off for more tests on Monday. Thanks for your thoughts and well wishes while I was out.