With less than thirty days before pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie for Spring Training there is little excitement for the upcoming season. Bad baseball may be better than no baseball, but 2013 appears to be another year of tempered expectations for most Mets fans. As a result, ticket sales and television ratings will likely take yet another hit, but should they? I’m not about to tell you how to spend your hard earned money, but I am here to tell you that there are plenty of reasons to watch the 2013 New York Mets.
The departure of RA Dickey undoubtedly deals a blow to the starting rotation for this upcoming season, but the youth movement will be in full effect this summer. The first youngster found his way to the show last fall, when Matt Harvey posted a 3-5 record in ten starts. However, his record is a poor representation of the 2.73 ERA and 10-plus strike outs per nine innings he posted over that time. Simply put, Harvey’s performance on the field was only bested by his character off of it. No one will demand more of the 23 year old than he will of himself, but at first glance, it looks as if he’ll have the talent to back it up.
Next up on the premiere pitching path will be top prospect, Zack Wheeler. With only 33 innings pitched at the Triple-A level, Wheeler will almost certainly spend the first portion of the season in the minors. However, when he debuts he will bring with him a sizzling fastball and an impressive array of secondary pitches that give him ace caliber potential. He will be without question the most anticipated arrival of 2013 as fans hope to see if Sandy Alderson’s first major trade yields immediate dividends.
Last, but certainly not least will be newly acquired catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud. Considered by many to be the best catching prospect in baseball, he was the premiere piece in the trade that sent RA Dickey to Toronto and for that reason alone, his contribution will be monitored by the masses. The ability to hit for both average and power, combined with above average defense behind the dish, d’Arnaud has the potential to sure up the catching position for a long time to come, making his late April call up much anticipated. The Mets will hope that his prowess behind the plate will solidify what was one of the organization’s biggest weaknesses headed into the offseason and his bat will provide a much needed boost to the line up.
Call it what you will, but David Wright’s new eight year, $139 million contract will paint a bullseye on his back this season and beyond. Having not reached the post season since 2006, Wright now finds himself the sole remaining “superstar” from that now distant memory. Coming off of an all-star season that saw the Mets’ third baseman return to form for much of the year, Wright will need to strike early and often if he’s to convince much of the fan base of his worth. For the time being, he finds himself to be the solitary cornerstone of what figures to be a multi-year rebuild. Can the pieces be filled in around him while he’s still the productive member of the team the Mets are paying for? The race is one and the clock is officially ticking…
The Farewell Tour
When he signed his six year, $137.5 million contract before the 2008 season, Johan Santana was supposed to be the one who got the Mets over the proverbial hump. Instead, Santana’s tenure has evolved into a little more than a financial burden. With the obvious exception of his June 2012 no-hitter Santana has found few highlights in Flushing. Barring a set of unforeseen circumstances, this season will be Santana’s last in Queens. When he departs, the Mets will enjoy a level of financial freedom not seen since his arrival. Should he excel early on this season, expect his swan song to end with a July trade that will see the Mets pay the large majority of his remaining salary. There is no way around it, if you want to say your goodbyes I’d thoroughly recommend you find your way to Citi Field this spring, because one way or another, Santana’s time is limited.
As will be the case for many teams throughout Major League Baseball, the 2013 Mets will experience a variety of beginnings..and ends this year. If you’ve waded through the collapses, the scandal and the underperformance, then you owe it to yourself to watch your team evolve this summer. The Mets may not find themselves in the playoff race, but they should finally answer several question that have been hanging in the balance for some time now. Will the youth movement provide the foundation for a playoff caliber team in the not so distant future? Can David Wright solidify himself as the premiere talent he’s being paid to be? Will this be the season the franchise finally moves forward? Only time can tell, but will you be there to see it?
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