I know that 2013 hasn’t even started and this maybe way ahead of schedule, but it is something that needs to said.
The thought coming into this year is that the Mets will use this season to play out the final year of large contracts, develop young prospects, and prime the team for playoff contention in 2014. Depressing doesn’t begin to describe how that feels, knowing that this is basically a lost season before it even begins.
For me the questions that arise from this are simple: Who exactly is there to add as a free agent and how will this team compete in 2014.
Let’s start with the free agents and which ones fit into the teams needs. Right now, the most glaring need is in the outfield where a right-handed power bat is needed and a legit center fielder who can preferably bat leadoff. This is of course assuming that Lucas Duda plays to this high standard that Terry Collins believes he can achieve, otherwise it’s safe to assume that all three spots will need to be addressed.
One option most fans will like currently pays just under ten miles away. Curtis Granderson can play center field, but is a lefty who strikes out more than I care for. Plus, his numbers at Yankee Stadium have drastically enhanced his abilities as a power hitter. Safe to say that if Bourne wast a legit option this season, the Grandy man won’t be next season. Jacoby Ellsbury? I have always liked him but he will be in his thirties, is way too injury prone, and is a Boras client meaning he will want unrealistic money/years that Alderson will not go to. Shin-Soo Choo? Again, liked but doesn’t exactly put the Mets in prime position for the playoffs. To me the only option is Hunter Pence, but the Giants will be hard pressed to keep him and his age next season will, like Ellsbury, probably prevent the front office from going over a four year deal.
Lets face it, the Mets can be put in quite a pickle next year in their search for outfield help. There is no young stud outfielder that Sandy Alderson will want to lock up long term, just good options that improve the team, but not on the level that we have been led to believe.
In the infield, Robinson Cano would make an incredible amount of sense but lets face it, the Yankees will give him whatever he wants, and if they do not, the Dodgers will be happy to shell out an eight year worth $200 million. I put a one percent chance that Cano ends up in Queens, and that might be too generous. The Mets seem content to let Murphy hold down second base until Wilmer Flores is ready, which could be soon.
On the mound, the Mets are in good shape, but should explore bringing in a pitcher like Matt Garza, or dare I say Roy Halladay, (which is not going to happen) simply to take the pressure off Harvey and Wheeler. Imagine if the “hope” for the future cracked under the New York lights and needed another year to get ready, which you can’t put passed the Mets luck. Plus odds are Johan Santana will not be brought back, (if he isn’t traded, which is the right move) so his spot needs to be replaced.
The willingness to spend and bring in free agent talent next season doesn’t ensure the Mets being competitive. My pessimism lies in the fact that if everything broke right and d’Arnaud is a stud, as well as Wheeler, the Mets are still not close to the Nationals, or even Atlanta. The Nationals are better in every aspect and aren’t going away anytime soon, seeing as everyone of their players is young or entering the prime of their careers. How about Atlanta? Atlanta is filled with young major league talent and have more ready to come, and are basically able to counter every prospect the Mets have. It is safe to say, the battle for the NL east will be between the Braves and Nationals over the next 4-5 years, with the loser getting a WC spot and the Mets battling Philly for third
But Mike, there is the second wild card spot!!! Oh yes I didn’t forget. Neither did the Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals, and Reds. All teams with ready to win talent on the roster now, and (with the exception of the Dodgers) more ready to come in the minors. Just two teams that have won World Series in the past three seasons and another who is loaded from top to bottom in Cincinnati Can you honestly say that the Mets are ready to contend with that?
I guess you can say having a chance for the Wild Card is “contending”, but is that really worth what we have been spoon fed since Alderson got here. Maybe make the playoffs and see what happens? Win a round if things break right? Good enough to sell tickets, but not to win a pennant or a World Series?
It is tough being pessimistic about this team. I have longed to be feel like I did in 2006 about the Mets. But to say that the Mets will contend in 2014 and beyond based on the hope of young prospects and “payroll flexibility” leaves me with a feeling as empty as Citi Field has been in October. To me, the Mets front office is selling the fans a dream, one that to me can only come true of the cities of Washington, Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cincinnati happen to fall into a three-year long slumber.