The Mets, a team in transition, are just about set from top to bottom, short of a spot on the bench and maybe another spot in the bullpen. Being set for this season doesn’t necessarily mean set for the future, though. In fact, although this spring won’t, the upcoming season will answer a variety of questions about the path the organization will take next season and beyond.
Will the Mets need to acquire two outfielders or three? Is the right side of the infield set for years to come? How about the back end of the rotation? These are all questions that need to be answered. As a result, each of these players finds himself on the block this year…
A natural first baseman who is blocked at the position by Ike Davis, the Mets still hope to find a position Duda can play efficiently enough to justify keeping his bat in the lineup. That bat however, also needs to improve this upcoming season if Lucas intends to keep himself in the fold beyond the 2013 season. 2012 saw his power numbers increase, but at the expense of his strikeout count, which averaged one per game. The hope is that Duda can hit .260+ while realizing his 25-30 home run potential, but if he can’t find that happy medium, his struggles in the outfield will ultimately usher him out of the Mets’ plans.
The twenty-seven year old Murphy has absolutely clawed his way to a starting spot in Queens. His reward comes in the form of a significant raise he received just two weeks ago and the knowledge he’ll have to continue to claw if he hopes to maintain his spot. In 2013, the Mets will not only ask Murphy to continue his progression at second base, they’ll ask him to better his power numbers that have only featured six home runs each of the past two years. A fair request for a career contact hitter with gap power? Probably not…but to date nothing has come easy for Murphy, so why should things start now?
I know what your thinking…There is no way the Mets could possibly jettison their twenty-five year old power-hitting first baseman who remains under team control through the 2016 season. However, allow me to remind you that the only thing that salvaged Davis’ 2012 campaign was his 32 home runs, which partially overshadowed his embarrassing first half which ultimately resulted to only a .227 batting average. If nothing else, Davis represents a ton of potential. That’s a commodity which may be valuable to a slue of other teams, should the Mets’ front office decide a trade is in order. With Lucas Duda and possibly even Reese Havens as other long term options at first, Davis will still need to prove his value moving forward. While the much more likely scenario sees Davis signed to a long term, team friendly, contract at some point this season, Ike’s future remains far from certain.
The 2013 season will bring with it the eventual arrival of Zack Wheeler, who will join the previously established Matt Harvey as the pitching saviors who the Mets’ front office hope can secure the rotation for many years to come. While they may secure the front end of the rotation, the back end remains left to Dillon Gee, who seeks to return from season ending surgery as the result of a vascular ailment late last year. Prior to falling victim to a blood clot, Gee’s 6-7 record was a poor representation of his performance which included 8.0 K/9IP and the lowest ERA of his short career. With a plethora of young pitchers many have described as virtual clones of Dillon at the Triple-A level, Gee will have to stay on his game should he want to maintain his spot on what may be one of the strongest young rotations in baseball in short order.
Every season has the potential to shed light on the future. The 2013 season will be no different for the New York Mets. In a perfect world, each of these guys earn their way onto the 2014 roster, thus allowing Sandy Alderson and the rest of the Mets’ front office to apply their considerable assets elsewhere. However if they can’t, the Mets may find themselves with more holes than they can possible fill next winter, resulting in an even longer delay in the organization’s revitalization.
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