Are We Better In 2014 Than 2013: Position Players

travis d'arnaud single

I thought it might be fun to take a look at where we are right now, in comparison to last year at this time.  To make things a little more comparable, lets assume that today’s roster is what we open the season with.

Behind the plate Travis d’Arnaud is replacing John Buck, and while TDA had a less than stellar debut, he is the #1 prospect at the position in all of baseball.  While I don’t expect d’Arnaud to put up Mike Piazza like offensive numbers, I do think he will have at least a decent season.  

.260/.330/.400 – 20 2B – 15 HR – 60 RBI – 130 G – 525 PA

I think it would be fair to say that would be a pretty reasonable expectation for a rookie catcher.  From some projections on Travis thus far, it could be a little conservative.  Defensively, he has been praised for his framing ability, which is a highly undervalued trait behind the dish, especially for a young pitching staff.  He will make his share of mistakes, but I really wasn’t impressed at all by Buck’s intangibles last year.  He wasn’t very good at framing, blocking, game calling, or throwing out runners.  He did, for the most part, manage the staff well.  Although, Harvey most likely would’ve been successful with Fred Wilpon catching him, but I have to give him some credit.  The Mariners were so impressed with Buck’s 2013 that they signed him to a 1yr/$1mil deal, if that tells you anything.  Here’s Buck’s 2013 line:

.215/.285/.367 – 11 2B – 15 HR – 60 RBI – 101 G – 400 PA

Even if d’Arnaud doesn’t produce at the level that we have him projected, he is most likely going to have a better season than Buck did offensively and defensively.  Fangraphs had Buck at 1.3 with the Mets, while Baseball Reference at 0.2.  Let’s take the average and call Buck a 0.8 WAR player last year. TDA will most likely come in right around 2.3.  If he has a better than expected season, he could be at 3.0 or better, and conversely, he could come in around 1.5.  I think its not unrealistic at all to say that we are most likely +1.5 wins.

Anthony Recker will handle the backup catching duties, and I was actually really impressed with Reck last season.  He’s not going to be an All-Star, and most likely a reserve throughout his career, but he certainly has some pop in the bat, and was excellent defensively last season.  We had a full run lower ERA as a team when Recker was behind the plate as opposed to Buck, so take that for what its worth, but keep in mind that Buck caught all of Harveys games.  Recker was worth 0.4 rWAR & 0.6 fWAR in 2013.  If he doesn’t improve at all, he is worth 1/2 a win.  Even

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

In the infield, I think Daniel Murphy will actually take a small step forward offensively and defensively at 2B, entering his age 29 season, which some would suggest is THE prime year of a baseball players career. David Wright & Curtis Granderson behind him in the lineup for a full season certainly won’t hurt his numbers, but we can’t guarantee that. 2013 fWAR 3.0 rWAR 1.8.  We’ll call it 2.5, although he could easily put up 3.5 just by using a late defensive replacement at 2B and giving him a day off per month against LHP.   Even

Wright is at or near the top of WAR lists annually.  He was 6.0 & 5.8 last year in 112 games, roughly 2/3 of the season.  We can’t guarantee he will play more than that this season, although chances are he will. Conservatively,  Even

Shortstop was the worst position last season for the Mets, as Ruben Tejada & Omar Quintanilla were an absolutely dreadful duo. Tejada -0.3 & -0.9  Quintanilla  -0.8 & -0.3.  I find it impossible to believe that we will open the season with those two as our options at SS, but I also find it impossible to believe that Tejada can be that bad two years in a row, unless he’s doing it on purpose.  A below average year from Stephen Drew would put us at +4.0  If we get 1.0 from the position in 2014 we will be +2.5.

The most disappointing thing about the 2013 season was the play of Ike Davis.  You just knew he was gonna come out mashing the ball after his horrid start to the 2012 season and approach 40 HR on the year.  There was no way he was gonna allow a slow start to happen again.  Embarrassingly, he put up a -0.1 & 0.2 .  I don’t see any way that Ike starts the season with the Mets.  It’s like a girlfriend that’s cheated on you for the second time, and you’re thinking about giving her another chance, but you know she’s gonna do it again.  You just have to move on because its your own fault when it inevitably happens the third time.

I know Mets fans are divided on Lucas Duda, and I know he’s certainly not a fan favorite, but one thing we all can agree on is that Duda is as bad as you can possibly be in the outfield.  Even if he doesn’t hit, he is way better at 1B than in LF.  That is a fact.  In roughly 700 innings at 1B Duda has a -0 Total Zone Rating/Year, +1 Defensive Runs Saved/Year, 9.12 Range Factor/9, and .995 Fldg%.  In fact, he didn’t make a single error at 1B in 255 chances last season, not one. That’s pretty impressive.  If he had one additional chance and made an error on the next play, it would still be .996.  For comparison, Ike .989, League Average is .993.  If he puts up the exact same offensive numbers that he did last season the move to 1B will make him at a 2.0 WAR player. +2.0

Satin will regress, but he is good defensively and he can hit LHP, you have to assume even, just like we did with Wright & Murphy. Even

Juan Lagares was dynamite to watch in center field last season.  If he improves offensively at all, we could be looking at an All-Star CF.  He was worth 3.7 & 2.9 last season in 124 G. A 4.0 is easily obtainable just by being on the team for the whole season, but to keep it consistent, we’ll call it Even

Marlon Byrd had one of the most unexpected seasons in baseball history last year.  He was 4.0 & 3.5 in 117 G.  I would like to think that Granderson would equal that over a full season, as compared to what Byrd did in 2/3 of a season.  He should be excellent defensively playing a corner, but just to be safe. -0.5

Eric Young Jr. is an interesting case because I’m not sure exactly how the playing time is gonna work in the OF.  He was terrible with Colorado to start the season but was 0.9 & 1.7 with the Mets in just over half the season (91 G), and he crushed the ball on the road after joining the Mets.(.293/.361/.385) I think he will play at least 91 games.  Even

Chris Young is a wild card if nothing else.  It could be a great signing.  It could be a total waste of $8.0 a little too early in the offseason for my taste.  Its just a one year deal though, and if he returns to his All-Star form at age 30, we can put a Qualifying Offer on him at the end of the season.  He doesn’t have to be great to replace the at-bats of Cowgill, Valdespin, Baxter & Ankiel, and replace the defense of Duda.  Those guys put up a -2.0.  As good as Young is defensively, especially playing a corner, he will put up very close to 2.0, and IF he comes anywhere close to what he was in Arizona from 2010-12, then he is a 4.0 WAR player. I’m being extremely conservative at +3.0

Brown, Nieuwenhuis, den Dekker, Lutz, Centeno, Tovar will get roughly the same amount of AB as they did last season, and prospects like Cesar Puello, Daniel Muno, Cory Vaughn may get a few as well. Even

That leaves Wilmer Flores. The Mets’ hitting prospect is basically taking the ABs of Justin Turner, and his own, from last season.  If anyone on the infield gets injured Flores will get the playing time.  I really think Flores is gonna become a big time hitter someday, but his defense is shaky and it might not be this year. Even

There will definitely be some injuries in 2014, and there will be some regression and some disappointments, but there will also be some surprises.  As disappointing as Ike & Tejada were last season, Byrd & Lagares were complete surprises.  Either way, I don’t think there is any question that we are better off from a position player standpoint than we were last year at this time. +8 wins would put us at 82 for the 2014 season.  If we get a couple of lucky breaks or acquire another player before the season starts, and possibly the trade deadline, anything can happen.  We are the Miracle Mets ya know.

I’ll take a stab at the pitching next.

Presented By Diehards

  • Alex68

    Are We Better In 2014 Than 2013?
    NO

  • peter

    I actually had the Mets with 85 wins. They are better position player wise, that is a no brainer, just defensively. But they are very improved offensively as well if Darnaud and Davis hit. There is a lot of upside here. But to me it is the pitching that can really put us over the top, the Mets are extremely deep with 10 starting pitchers that can help this year, most teams do not have that kind of depth, it also provides depth in the bull pen. The starters actually have room to improve as does the bullpen, I would not be surprised if they make a run this year. Nats and Braves as well have extremely good pitching, but when I look at all three teams line ups no team is perfect, if Lagares, Darnaud, and Davis contribute to Wright, Murph, Grandy, and Young then look out. Untill they play we will not know.

  • Biggle Boy

    Position player wise, it all depends on Ike and Tejada playing good D and hitting well. The OF looks like it can be better than 2013’s starting lineup, and Travis should be able to contribute. Pitching may be equal to last year.

  • R04

    Are you smarter than a 5th grader?
    NO

  • Benny

    Lagares > Cowgill

    Granderson > Duda

    d’Arnaud > Buck (?)

    Mejia/Colon/Wheeler/Lannan > Marcum/Hefner/McHugh/Laffey

    Black/Familia/Germen/Torres > Hawkins/Lyon/Atchison

  • SRT

    OD LF and CF are better.
    After what we know regarding Byrd’s contributions it remains to be seen if RF is better.

    I’m crossing my fingers TdA will be better overall. Buck’s framing of pitches was awful and so far, TdA’s seem to be very good so there is that. Hopefully, his bat will pick up.

    We lost Harvey for the season (still bummed), we picked up Colon and Mejia might be the surprise of the year.

    Not happy about SS right now and I’m not sure this will be the BP going in.

  • $14435385

    The key is the bullpen…with so many young arms it can be really good or really bad – we have no idea which. The offense will be relatively weak no matter who is in there (be prepared for a TON of Ks) but the defense (especially in the OF) and starters should be fairly strong (unless Colon suddenly turns 40+, in which case the rotation is screwed too) . They’re going to be playing a ton of 3-2, 2-1, 4-3 games; as goes the bullpen, so will go this team.

  • SRT

    I forgot about Joel Carreno. Wonder if he’ll make the OD cut?

  • RyanF55

    This is a very good question. It can be argued that the the additions in LF and RF will be upgrades. But,

    -The Mets literally have not upgraded at SS or 1B, arguably their biggest needs. We have the same exact infield as last year.
    – They added a .200 hitter in Young and Granderson off an injured season, getting towards the ladder years of his career. Byrd’s production was borderline all-star last year, and if it’s even replaced, that would be tremendous.

    The success this year for the Mets hinges on a host of “what-ifs” – Will Chris Young sort it out and hit? Will Granderson return to form and how will his power translate to Citi Field? Will Tejada, Ike/Duda produce at any respectable level? Will d’Arnaud start to hit this season? Will Lagares improve at the plate? There are so many questions offensively for this team. If they can go the Mets way, the team has a shot at a wildcard. If not, we have the same exact team as last year and one I predict finishes with under 75 wins.

  • Andrew Herbst

    Our OF is better than last year, but ss and 1b are still major question marks.

  • Guest

    TDA at a 720 ish OPS….. 25-30 or so Extra Base Hits, including Homers…. HEALTHY….55-60 of more RBI…. that becomes a Huge Starting Point for the Player and The Team. I’ll take “Average+” with upside out of my 1st year catcher—— and 130 or so games would thrill me! I realize those stats aren’t thrilling…..—restate–A Starting Point.

    He is the biggest piece of the season– if he establishes the Catching position with some promise of an offensive upside, it’s a huge lift all around.

  • Eric Raffle

    TDA at a 720 ish OPS….. 25-30 or so Extra Base Hits, including
    Homers…. HEALTHY….55-60 or more RBI…. that becomes a Huge
    Starting Point for the Player and The Team. I’ll take “Average+” with
    upside out of my 1st year catcher—— and 130 or so games would
    thrill me! I realize those stats aren’t thrilling…..—restate–A
    Starting Point.

    He is the biggest piece of the season– if he establishes the
    Catching position with some promise of an offensive upside, it’s a huge
    lift all around.

  • Bubbadubbs

    I’m assuming that the folks here that are pesimistic all the time do so to make it easyer to deal with the what if’s. I myself choose to see the bright side and havn’t been as excited to watch my team get going in many years.

  • Alex68

    Sigh….. As always, thanks for reading AND commenting sandy CB

  • RyanF55

    I know it was driven by one month’s production, but Buck put up 15 HRs and 60 RBIs with the Mets last year. Will d’Arnaud replicate that production? In a vacuum, the project production of 2014 position players doesn’t make me believe it will necessarily be better than last year. Is a Granderson/Davis/Young combo better than Byrd/Buck/Duda combo hitting behind Wright? I’m not sure, but they aren’t very different on the surface.

  • Charley’s Twin

    I can’t believe we’re bringing back the same infield as last year.

  • Just_Da_damaja

    Framing pitches is nice, but there is no qualifiable way to determine if a pitch call would’ve been different. It could be the pitcher getting lee-way from the ump, it could be the hitter having a bad relationship with an ump..

    what is easy to see and track is how many PB and WP, Travis allowed in his short time, along with his CS%.

    when talking defense on travis, I believe his fans PURPOSELY avoid discussing his obvious short-comings and highlight his “pitch framing” skills to mask it.

    Same way when he was hitting .178 but they were going giddy every time he took a walk.

  • DrDooby

    1b certainly cannot be worse collectively than in 2013. If Ike opens the season in a slump like in 2013 and 2012, you can rest assured that he loses his job within a month to Duda who himself will lose his job within a month to Wilmer Flores if he doesn´t perform. The Mets have a lot of backup plans in place at this spot (unlike last year). So, I´d certainly expect significantly better production from 1b than in 2013.

    Similar with SS where mediocrity will be a major improvement over being atrocious. The worst case scenario is that Tejada & Quintanilla are as awful as in 2013 and Wilfredo Tovar is the regular SS by June 1st providing nice defense but little else. Which certainly beats providing nothing. And if Tejada rebounds to his 2012 and 2011 levels, this is a big gain compared to last season.

    And the 400+ AB that won´t be going to Baxter, Valdespin, Cowgill and Ankiel will make for a massive upgrade as well, almost regardless of whether they go to Eric, Chris or heck Anthony Young.

    These gains are almost a given, regardless of who ends up getting playing time.

    The big questions are whether Granderson can make up for most of Byrd´s surprising 2013 production and how good d´Arnaud is going to be.

    John Buck had a great April 2013 and was awful offensively afterwards with a sub .600 OPS since May 2013. The great April didn´t really do much for the team in terms of winning with black holes at 1b, SS, CF and at times in LF, of course. If d´Arnaud manages to stay healthy, he should easily outproduce Buck. The question is by how much. It could be + 1 win it could be + 3 wins realistically.

    In any event, barring crippling injuries to Wright or Granderson and to a lesser degree Murphy, the Mets 2014 offense should be better than the 2013. And in case of injury, Wilmer Flores seems like a better IF option than Justin Turner too.

  • Taskmaster4450

    True but SS and 1B arent likely to be worse.

    Improvement in either position is very likely since the floor is so low on them.

  • Taskmaster4450

    Every team hinges on “what-ifs”. That is why they play the game. Nobody can predict what will happen. Look at the Yankees: in spite of spending 1/2B this off season, their IF is nothing but what ifs.

  • DrDooby

    With the “PITCH F/X” technology in place and lots of data available by now, the importance of catch framing can´t be denied anymore, probably as the biggest skill for a C beyond pitch calling. Players like Russell Martin, Ryan Hanigan or Jose Molina have proven to be very valuable in that regard. The impact of pitch framing has already been proven to be far, far more important than the throwing arm for a C for example.

    Now, whether d´Arnaud is really good at this remains to be seen. The small 2013 sample certainly isn´t sufficient to draw conclusions here.

    Just like his 2013 offensive sample or WP / PB sample while getting to know an entirely new pitching staff for him is of any use.

    We do know that d´Arnaud´s hitting has been liked by scouts. His defensive ability too. The biggest question is whether he can stay on the field and handle the rigors of catching every day. That remains to be seen.

  • BadBadLeroyBrown

    So basically not much has changed.

    Same lineup, Except for the Catcher(he’s still a mystery) & OF…We went from No Outfield to an AVERAGE at best Outfield.

    Bravo Sandy.

  • NewYorkMammoths

    I wonder who had to break it to Terry that Turner’s not on the team anymore.

  • RyanF55

    Good teams don’t have question marks at the majority of positions as we do. SS, 1B, LF, RF, CF and C are all completely unknown. Do the Braves not know who their 1B, CF, LF, RF, C and SS are? And yeah, the Yankees infield is pretty poor, but they still added McCann, Beltran, Elsbury and took an obvious huge risk on Tanaka, which could pay dividends. I personally would much rather have Elsbury and Beltran in the OF than Granderson/Young, not that Beltran would ever consider coming back here.

  • DrDooby

    And the “what ifs” are almost natural for a team with a young roster. Even more so than for a veteran team with a more stable track record.
    Which makes predicting the Mets win total more difficult than would normally be the case. And since there´s at least a + 5 / – 5 swing involved anyway, even for a veteran team with a proven track record, it pretty much depends on what you feel players like d´Arnaud, Wheeler, Mejia, Black, Germen, Edgin, Lagares, plus eventually Flores, Montero and others will produce or won´t.

  • RyanF55

    On the FACE, we actually brought in worse production than last year. Young and Granderson’s production < Young and Byrd in 2013. Obviously, Granderson COULD slug 40 HRs, and Young COULD sort it out and hit for the power he displayed in Arizona. Personally, I like Granderson and what he brings in terms of confidence and attitude, but I don't think his power will translate to Citi. Young is a complete unknown. Beyond that, we brought in a 41 year old pitcher that I'm a fan of.

    What else has been done? It seems in a best-case scenario, we replaced production of last year. Colon for Harvey, Granderson/Young for Byrd. Baseball is a funny game though, and we have to play out the season to find out. Looking generally, it doesn't seem the Mets did anywhere enough replacing what was lost. This team is still completely rebuilding, so I won't expect much, no matter how many 4 syllable words Sandy tries to use. Are we at the same point we were in January of 2013? That's unacceptable if true.

    I also think losing Turner and letting Hawkins walk for nothing wasn't the smartest idea. Have they been replaced as well?

  • RyanF55

    It’s pretty incredible, and disgusting.

  • DrDooby

    And overall that should give the offense about + 5 wins or so compared to 2013. With the potential for more, depending on the success of some young players.

    If you believe the SP and RP is slightly improved too and the depth is as well, it doesn´t take a lot of optimism to expect at least a .500 season, if not more.

    It probably isn´t enough for a playoff berth yet but a step in the right direction. And I´ll reserve the “BRAVO” for when the team is playoff bound…

  • Look at it this way. Pretend you are in 01/2013 and you are looking at the teams potential lineup and compare it now to what we have today. On paper going into the season the lineup is better. The outfield is night and day especially with defense. This is going to be a real solid defensive outfield and that was something we all were yelling about last year. The will give starters more confidence and allow them to pitch without having to worry about the ball possibly being hit to Duda. From a offensive standpoint it will be better and possibly a lot better if Chris Young works out.

    From an infield standpoint I see no change/ Either Ike will suddenly be able to hit or will be DFA’d and the either scenario is better than what Ike gave the team last year. Tejada has one more shot and what happened there last year can’t be worse this year.

    Catcher we will see, most analysts are hopeful except for the haters so I am encouraged.

  • HobokenGuy

    There are two completely different types of “unknowns” depending on the position. Yes production at C, LF and RF is unknown, but at least we know who’s playing there. 1B, SS is still up in the air, while CF looks very good. If anything I’d say CF is more locked down than any of the other question positions.

  • SpinalRemains

    Pitching and defense.
    Mets will be 5 games better this season.

  • YES – they’re noticeably better.

  • mad met

    That still does not get us to playoffs ..so are we better ..thats a huge maybe

  • mad met

    100% agree

  • mad met

    We have a chance to be good in 2015 as long as they dont do anything totaly stupid

  • mad met

    This article seems a little unfair. Are we better then the starters last year yes …. are we better than the players that were on the field in around the allstar break .i dont think so. Granderson will have more hr than bryd but less avg .. young is going to take time away from juan and that is a nightmare. Ey is here for both last year and this year. And who knows with ike duda and tahada .good news is they cant be any worse

  • mad met

    Relax if we are 5 games better everything went very well. This could be a disaster with 1200-1300 strikeouts

  • RyanF55

    I’d agree with CF because the Mets are four-deep on outfielders that can play there. Nobody can sit here and tell me they are happy with SS and 1B, and that the team did nothing to address either. Assuming production improves at those positions is just assuming. Because Tejada is working out this off season I’m supposed to assume he’ll hit? Who’s to say he improves? I’d hope so, but to expect improvement at SS and 1B because they were horrible last year, with the same guys at those positions this year, isn’t well supported.

  • RyanF55

    The way I see it on paper:

    Buck/Recker > d’Arnaud/Recker
    Ike Davis WASH Ike Davis/Duda/Satin
    Daniel Murphy = Daniel Murphy
    David Wright = David Wright
    Tejada/Turner > Tejada/Quintinilla
    Duda/Baxter < Granderson
    Cowgill/Neiuenheis Young

    Buck hit 15 home runs with 60 RBIs for the Mets. I certainly believe d’Arnaud will be leaps and bounds better than Buck, but not yet. Though it largely came over a single month, we would all be ecstatic to get Buck’s 2013 production from d’Arnaud over the course of the season. 1st has not improved on paper, and only has improved because people assume it can’t get any worse – gee that’s a great outlook. 2nd and 3rd remain the same. SS in my opinion lost depth in Turner – we all know Quintinilla is a career AAA ballplayer at best. Granderson’s track record is an upgrade of Duda and Baxter, but he’s coming off an injured, unproductive season. He still get’s the nod. And I highly doubt CY will put up 21 HRs and 71 RBIs like Byrd did last year.

    I believe this team has improved, certainly for the future. The young guns will be coming and there is at least hope in some position players in the farm – Nimmo, Cecchini, Smith etc. The issue is these guys are still years from not only reaching the bigs, but learning to be productive there. Reasonably, its 2-3 years before any of those kids fill position on this roster. We may have an incredible rotation next year – Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard, Niese, Colon etc etc etc, but we may still heavily lack position players for a few years if none are acquired through FA or trade. We are going to have more pitchers than we can field a team with, so you look at Colon as a trade piece among other young arms such as Montero. Sandy has to start bringing in bats, and get creative doing it.

    LGM

  • jason bay

    It’s a .500 team. The OF, catcher, 5th starter and overall depth is improved from last year which as everyone know we played .500 the last 100 games (62%) of the year and that was with Niese, Harvey, Wright injured during part of that run and Byrd missing most of it after being traded.

    I’m a little worried about the pen. I agree with those who wanted Hawkins back here. 2.5 M should not have been too much to have a solid vet out there and one who could have moved at the deadline.

    .500 is obviously not the goal but a step…….in the right direction

  • ColoradoMetsFan

    Benny, not that you care, but you deserve an upvote for this cogent and succinct analysis…

  • Charley’s Twin

    agree–as i’ve said before on here, we might have a new definition of “generation K” before this season is out, and it’s not the pitchers

  • Denelor

    “Same lineup except for catcher and OF”…

    You do realize that’s HALF the lineup, right? Kind of hard to say it’s the same when you’ve changed half of it.

    Whether that’s an upgrade or not, we’ll see. But it’s ludicrous to say it’s the same lineup. It’s not even remotely close to the same lineup.

  • jason bay

    I think it is true of those who dislike him to discount anything that he does well much in the way some do (or do not with Lagares and Flores)

    For some reason some prospects get criticism and others the benefit of the doubt.

  • Hodges14

    I’m a bit concerned about the ability of the starters to remain healthy also. We’re going in with Niese, Gee, Mejia who have all had problems staying healthy. Colon who has had his share of health issues and is 40 years old, and Wheeler who had a mysterious “tired shoulder” last season.

  • Hodges14

    I think the best thing we can say about the Mets this offseason is that none of the other teams in the NL East did much to get much better either. Atlanta probably went backwards losing McCann and Hudson. Philadelphia and the Marlins are probably about the same. Washington I expect will bounce back in 2014 and have a good season.

  • Andrew Herbst

    That’s true. We have to hope it can only go up for Ike and Tejada.

  • Macdaddy

    The word that best describes the Mets at this point is POTENTIAL…and frankly I hate that word. Potential defines the hope of what is expected and if attained then no big deal, and if that potential is not realized…then disappointment, but in reality we have no real sense that this mix of players will exceed last years totals.
    In simple terms, can one assume the Mets will have similar pitching results from the starters and the pen that they had last year? Hard to say because the loss of Harvey has an obvious affect on the team but will this drive someone to step up and seize the opportunity…well that is the big question. Based on that alone and the potential of rotation struggles early on while they figure out where everyone shakes out in the rotation, you could see a bit more stress placed on the pen. If this does occur then the impact on the pen will show itself not early into the season but during the second half…and I think we all know the cause and affects of an overworked bullpen. Two fold jobs that allowed the Phillies to catch and pass the Mets are obvious examples.
    Offensively, one has to believe that the offense will be better…it can’t get much worse…or can it? At the very least one can see that the starting line up of has, in simple terms, better baseball players. The outfield is vastly improved defensively and that alone will help to mitigate some of the sting that could come from a slow offensive start. But…the challenge for me is the chemistry of the team and that we are once again banking on some type of genesis of the 1st base position and that SS will be something other than well below league average in offense and defense.
    My gut still tells me that this is a .500 team at best and the odds that they perform to a less than .500 record exceeds the potential of them being above .500 so yes that is being critical and fairly un-technical but tell me how I can convince my lying eyes of other?

  • BadBadLeroyBrown

    Who in their right minds believes the pitching is better minus Harvey and Hawkins our best starting pitcher and reliever last year???

    .500???Thats a pipe dream

    And the bravo was oozing with sarcasm

  • Hodges14

    Potential = Haven’t done it yet.

  • Macdaddy

    Exactly…

  • Joey D.

    Hi Destry,

    I think we’ve both gone over this between ourselves in detail LOL so am sure you can anticipate what one of my answers would be.

    How much more has our defense improved along with our hitting that will cause a combination of us scoring more runs than our opponents either by more run production or less runs surrendered – which would have to result in a .80 turn around in our favor per game so we could match the Pirates performance of great pitching being able to carry such low run scoring performance?
    Unfortunately, it is only a slight improvement..

    How much has our defense really improved from last year when we were able to play four games over .500? CYJ? If we take into account that he never was able to hit right handed pitching, he will be of limited use, platooning in right since he will be sitting down most of the time – not many left handed starters as there are right handed ones.. Brown isn’t the answer either because he can barely hit above .200 against right handed pitching and is not a good fielder.

    They need one who hits left handed and that is Eric Young who is better from the right side. Juan Lagares hits about the same from either side of the mound. Those two are returning from last year. Won’t even consider Lucas Duda – that’s too cruel.

    Marlon Byrd had ten assists and if we take his saber RDRS it is 12. In 2012, Granderson had just 3 assists and though he did not make an error all year, his RDRS was at a 9. Byrd did make five errors. So we gained some and lost some in the switch so it’s even.

    Overall, our defense hasn’t improved any to help our pitchers lower the deficit of runs allowed.

    Hitting? I do believe we can expect more from Travis. We might also get lucky of Davis and Tejada can turn things around which means we can indeed pick up more runs than last year. Like in the field, Grandy is simply a trade off for Byrd with more home runs replacing a lot less base hits with more strike outs in the mix. And if Eric Young can pick things up just a little bit more, we got ourselves a good lineup. Something like this:

    Eric Young – RF
    Tejada (rejuvenated) – SS
    Murphy – 2B
    Wright – 3B
    Granderson – LF
    Davis (rejuvenated) – 1B
    d’Arnaud (more familiar with MLB pitching)
    LaGares (his glove keeps him in the lineup).
    But again, there is a four letter word to describe all that occurring and it is something that can be printed for all family members to read: “hope” – but because there are so many “ifs” involved, we have to be realistic and understand that is a lot of “hope” to be asking for – especially with the strikeout potential increasing. If our basic hitting remains the same, adding more strikeouts means even less balls in play and scratching out even less runs than we did last season.
    So if we put aside “hope” and base our opinion on “objectivity” ala Sandy, , we haven’t improved our defense or hitting enough to where we can hope for anything more than being an 83 win team, even if the pitching shows marked improvement. I wouldn’t mind 83 wins after the past few seasons but with the financial restrictions still affecting us in 2015 and 2016, I don’t see 83 as a stepping stone but rather as a yardstick.

  • $14435385

    Nice to see you in these parts, Hodges. Yeah, I didn’t really even broach the health thing because it’s such a variable year to year. Lots of questions there though, as you’re saying…they’re certainly going to need a lot to break right.

  • Joey D.

    HI Salty,
    Why does everyone talk about Chris Young’s glove without looking at him as a total player? And by that, I don’t mean his total career hitting or when he had his good years in Arizona but how he has always faired against right handed pitching?
    With them, he is a career .225 hitter The last five years his average has been: .193 in 2013, .210 in 2012, .222 in 2011, in 2010, his best season batting average wise, it was at .255 but the year before that it was .196.
    Last year the 111 games against the Mets were started by right handers as opposed to 51 by southpaws. How much playing time does one think he is going to see beyond being a late inning defensive replacement or coming in – or being removed – for a righty/lefty switch? If the criticism about Ike Davis not being an everyday player is because he cannot hit left handed pitching, then the same must apply to Chris against right handers.
    So it’s a matter of having a defensive gem starting in the outfield about a third of our games or coming in as a late inning defensive replacement or settling for a very big hole in the lineup for probably two thirds of the time.
    And for you saber guys, he had a WAR rating that made him not better than a scrub or role player in five of his seven full seasons (scrub 3, role 2). But then, I’m not a saber guy so you can dismiss that as part of the argument LOL.

  • Charley’s Twin

    You mean Murphy and Tejada up the middle defense?

  • donobrien

    Enjoyed your article, Dexx. Also, many good comments. I would sum up the 2014 position starters like this: If all stay healthy, three are dependable, Wright, Murphy and Granderson. The two rookies, d’Arnaud and Lagares are v.g. defensively and MAY have break out years offensively. C. Young is a one year 8 million dollar gamble. Possible big upside. That leaves Tejada at SS and an Ike/Duda choice at 1st. I have no confidence in them. Therefore on Offensive, we’re rolling the dice on five of eight positions.

  • No one talks about his offense because there are issues with it as you pointed out. I was not a fan of his signing but if you compare him to Duda I would take Young every day and that is why I suggested that 2014 roster on paper is better than 2013. It will work out if he gets those HR’s back up to 20, and if he doesn’t it was only a one year deal.

  • SpinalRemains

    Yes. The 2014 defense. Is that not what we’re discussing, or do you actually prefer an OF consisting of Duda, Neuiwenhuis and Baxter?

  • SpinalRemains

    That’s subjective of course. If second place is the same as last for you, then of course the team is no better.

    Look, I’m under no illusion that the 14 Mets will compete in September. I was just answering the question. Based on what we saw last year alone, our improved OF should yield about 5 more wins. It was that god awful last April-June.

  • Nolrog

    Buck > d’Arnaud
    Ike = Ike/Duda/Satin
    Murphy = Murphy
    Wright = Wright
    Tejada = Tejada
    Duda/Baxter << Granderson
    Cowgill/Kirk > Young/Brown

    So I’d say it’s about even. Granderson is a huge improvement over Duda/Baxter, but Young/Brown is a huge drop from Byrd. Buck was very productive and more than I expect from d’Arnaud and Lagares/Young is an upgrade over Cowgill/Kirk. So it all washes out.

  • Destry

    I hope you realize that there are other statistics in baseball besides the HR

  • Destry

    Couldn’t you say the same thing about Wilmer Flores?

  • Destry

    Like the article states Ryan, Buck was so good last season that he landed a 1yr $1mil deal to be a backup C

  • Destry

    The Yankees have ? at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, Bullpen, 5th starter.

  • Dave_in_Spain

    Just to clarify: You´d take Duda over ChrisYoung every day?

  • When you look at the Mets Opening Day 25-Man Roster last season added with the 1st 14 players to be initially called up during the first two months of the 2013 season 16 of them (41%) are no longer even with the team. In other words a lot of roster turnover.

    Accepting the loss of names like Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner, Latroy Hawkins, John Buck and Marlon Byrd we also (on paper) can potentially look forward to full seasons of Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares. Plus there is the potential contributions of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon.

    Comparing the team then & now on paper as we are here I think
    another thing to consider is the depth as far as call up options now
    compared to last year as well.

    New names like Jacob deGrom, Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, Jeff Walters, Jack Leathersich, Cesar Puello and Juan Centeno along with names we have already seen like Daisuke Matsuzaka, Wilmer Flores and Wilfredo Tovar can possibly be the catalyst in my opinion to how successful the Mets season can be in 2014.

    http://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0ApxE2V-jZhJHdHhCZ0J3NTQyUjV4M0hrazNwTnZRWEE&single=true&gid=1&output=html

  • Oooopps no, thank you. Editing now LOL.

  • LoL, I figured you’d eventually realize the typo. No way I would believe you would seriously say “I would take Duda every day…” 🙂

  • RyanF55

    Would you take Chris Young/Granderson over Elsbury/Beltran?

  • Destry

    Buck is greater than TDA? You wanna explain that one?

  • Destry

    I would agree with you for the most part. I think where the 2014 team benefits the most is from our depth. Last year, we suffered through ABs from Valdespin, Cowgill & Ankiel in CF, and even though Lagares was superb defensively, he wasn’t exactly Ted Williams at the plate.

  • Destry

    Would you take Wright and Murphy over Roberts & Johnson?

  • RyanF55

    Would you take McCann, Texiera and Gardner over d’Arnaud, Davis/Duda/Stain, Young? This year? This team is certainly getting better, and moving toward the future.but there’s more question marks here than the Yankees or many other teams in 2014. I’ll sacrifice this season to wait and see the talent coming up, and I expect the team to really compete next year being able to move pitching in trades, some of the young players coming up finally.

  • Bail4Nails

    I can’t bring myself to talk about this team “as is”. Every blog and forum I’ve seen has Met fans screaming to fix SS and 1B. Someone in Mets management had to have seen, read, or heard all this chatter from ticket-buyers.
    “I Gotta Believe” we are going to sign or trade for a new SS/Leadoff Hitter. “I Gotta Believe” Davis or Duda is gone by Opening Day, with Flores waiting in the wings. Because if we start the season with Tejada and Ike Davis again, I’m done with the Mets this year. So for this offseason, more than the real season, “I Gotta Believe”.

  • Joey D.

    Hi SaltyGary,

    Interesting, if you mean Duda in left field since we’re talking about him and CYJ, you’re one of the few who has promoted Lucas staying there despite his fielding inadequacies. CYJ could always take over for defense late in the game and platoon with him against left handed pitching. But despite his fielding, Lucas still has to show that 2011 wasn’t his peak. If he can, I don’t think that is a bad idea having him start against right handed pitching.

    Yes, one can say as far as the regular players go, the team is stronger this year heading into spring training than last – we have more secure outfield options and d’Arnaud for a full year.

    However, that is a moral victory and nothing more. The more important question is whether the team appears stronger now than it was last season when it played four games over .500 for two thirds of the year. For that, the answer based on hopeful performance is yes, but based
    on expected performance, no.

    Both first base and shortstop are still unsettled. The “what outfield?” we had going into 2013 was of course changed by Byrd, Lagares and Eric Young. We still have Eric Young and Lagares yet Granderson only CANCELS out the loss of Byrd so he does not add to the picture but makes up for the loss (defensively neither hurt us and Byrd had the stronger arm). I think we all expect d’Arnaud to be a much better hitter in 2014 because he now has more experience hitting against MLB pitching under his belt – but at the same time – it was pointed out how his wrists face far into the direction of the mound and we need to know if that is not a problem or whether it was OK in the minors but not against experienced MLB pitchers who know how to use that to their advantage by getting him too swing too early or too late with the location and speed of their pitches.

    The hope is that along with d’Arnaud showing improvement, Davis and Duda/ Chris Young, Jr. (as a platoon) have to show that they have been experiencing off seasons rather than declining seasons. If it’s a Young/Young platoon instead, then that could be dealt with if Davis and d’Arnaud do come around and Tejada shows he can be counted upon to hold up his weight – err, I mean hold down his weight. That means only two “weak” links in the lineup hitting wise – Lagares and Eric Young (when facing right handers) – and with the defense those players bring, that’s not a problem at all.

    So let’s HOPE that the position players are better this coming season than they were last year. But as I mentioned to Destry, based on what they’ve showed us the last few seasons that’s a lot of “ifs”, especially without help expected anytime soon from the farm system.

  • Joey D.

    Hi Alex,

    Couldn’t let you stand alone against eight “nays” like that. Come on, where are the rest of you “core” guys when our “fearless leader” really needs you? Alex, you must feel like Jesus when all his Disciples disbanded him.

    I won’t say we are “worse” than we were in 2013 but will not say we appear to be that much “better” in 2014. I “hope” we are but that is different than basing it on “logic” whether it be “empirical”, “statistical” or both. What were our strong points in 2013 that did not let us down we can expect the same of again and maybe a bit more. But what were our weak points that did hold us back in 2013 we can expect a minimal improvement, with that hopefully being the development of d’Arnaud with Curtis offsetting Byrd.

    So the total picture has to be that if we are better, it will only be as a stepping stone not for this year or next but for three or four more years.

    In theory, would it then be more rational to limit our free agent signings again next season and not fill multiple holes if they still exist? Would not doing so actually short-circuit the final stage of the “rebuilding” program, that being the progression of those highly touted prospects whom are not ready at this time but might be in another two or three seasons? If we sign players next year to three years contracts, that means they can still be entrenched in their positions four years from now. If some of those kids can be ready in two seasons – not rushed but ready – that means two seasons in which they will be either buried in the minors or sitting on the bench instead of getting their proper playing time.

    That is why I said we should have made our moves into free agency these last two off-seasons for they would not conflict with our future. Starting next winter, they just might.

  • Joey D.

    Hi Ryan,

    Well said – it appears more a lot of hopeful planning than it is strategic planning . Kind of funny for an organization that goes by objective “logic” instead of subjective “emotion” would you say?

    In fact, it appears the ones who have their doubts (myself included) base it cold, objective reason detached from emotion based on player performance and financial restriction while those who are enthusiastic base it on expecting so many of the prospects to accomplish all that is projected for them (even though the majority of the first three rounds of draft selections never become stars in the majors). Remember Ike Davis – there isn’t one person two years back who thought first base was a problem (even Sandy named him one of the two core players of the future).

    And the hitters who were expected to just improve without actually showing signs of it on a major league level? Remember those who said Kirk was ready based on how he was hitting at Vegas? And Valdespin? Or we forgot the modest hopes many had for Cowgil simply because Sandy said he had potential?

    Speaking with a certainty based on hope is not speaking with one’s head. Talk about role reversals and recognizing that it is actually us who are being cold and objective and detaching ourselves from being emotional! Sandy would be proud of our methodology!

  • Joey D.

    Hi Task,

    How many teams have as many what if’s as we do and how many of them enter the off season trying not to address them? What they don’t have in minor league talent on the way they try to look into free agency to resolve the problems instead.

    And it is not done overnight. It is done over a period of one or two or even three years.

  • Joey D.

    Hi Destry,

    The Yankees do have question marks and the only way to describe the difference they and other teams – those that do not have nearly the financial resources that the Bombers do but nevertheless also attempt to resolve those question marks – as opposed to the Mets, is to borrow from Avis what the rent a car company used to say:

    “we try harder”.

  • Joey D.

    Hi Task,

    That is taking the best out of a bad situation.

  • TexasGusCC

    Destry, nice job. While there is disappointment in most of the names in the lineup, their is one strength of this year compared to last year: Stability. Last year’s team was done in by a 6-23 stretch from the fourth week of April until the Yankees in the fourth week of May. Take that away, and things aren’t terrible. Last year, we had no idea who played where. This year those roles are better defined. Plus, the depth isn’t Baxter and Turner
    I cannot tell you that this lineup is any better, but I can tell you that if the Mets get good pitching and good fundamental defense, this team should be in 90% of their games and hopefully win more games than last year.

  • Destry

    There are questions with every team. All I’m saying is the Yankees just spent 1/2 billion dollars and they have as many questions as we do. Beltran is 38, Ellsbury is injury prone, Jeter is 40, Roberts hasn’t contributed positively in 5 years, K. Johnson is a utility player, Tex may or may not be the Tex we remember. He hasn’t played starter innings in a few years, McCann is good, but would you be shocked if he spent 1/2 the season on the DL and struggled to adjust to a new league with reported vision problems? Tanaka could be the biggest bust in the history of sports, but by all accounts they paid $155 million for a #2 or #3 starter, and their #1 posted an ERA of nearly 6 last year, and their #2 is 40. They are father time catches up, and a McCann injury away from last place.

  • Destry

    Our farm system is leaps and bounds ahead of the Yankees. They are gonna be in some real trouble at some point Joey. They can’t give up their 1st RD pick year after year while throwing top dollar at players on the downside of their career without having a huge dilemma on their hands at some point. They can have all the money in the world but that isn’t gonna keep mid to late 30’s players off the DL, and they aren’t gonna be able to add people at the deadline via trade. They might be able to outbid other teams for free agents, but they can’t outbid anyone via trade.

  • mad met

    So its come to that. They suck so we can suck a little less than them

  • mad met

    Yes but how did it look in july bryd ey and juan. With a .brown and den decreker..we need to fix first base and ss where is your cleanup hitter and leadoff hitter if u say granderson i lose all respect for u. He is a good 6,7 not a four

  • Just_Da_damaja

    when a prospect is placed at the most important defensive position and is known more for his bat….

    and neither hits well, nor fields well….when the ONLY thing they do well is one fraction of one part of the game well, then that prospect ( who is turning 25 in 2 weeks ) does deserve to be looked at with a fine comb…

  • Just_Da_damaja

    as many questions ????

    who cares…

    Tejada, Harvey and Wright were healthy and young to start the year and both missed extensive time…

    meanwhile old injury prone farts played the whole season…

    ya never know…

  • Joey D.

    Hi Destry,

    That is true but it is still weak in the areas that we hurt most – position players.

    Besides, the future of the Yankees is there own problem – if they want to spend, spend, spend and it still continues to work – let it.
    Though it might of course catch up with them down the road, and we saw signs of it this past season, they have made moves to address those issues – including Tananka (I’m surprised nobody has called him “Tiger”, the name those closest to the head of the Japanese secret police back in 1967 when 007 first met him – LOL). But it hasn’t failed them in the past 18 years.

  • SpinalRemains

    The roster does not currently have a different ss or leadoff hitter. It is what it is. Subpar. It is to me however, better on this opening day than it was last year. The question asked wasn’t whether or not the Mets are ready to contend with this group. It was whether or not they’ve made improvements heading into this year, and to that I say yes.

    Of course I want a leadoff hitter and Ike gone. I’m a Mets fan too.

  • Destry

    True. They why pay the 1/2 billion, and limit your franchises future?

  • Destry

    They only have 1 Championship since the millennium. 1 in 14 years. They signed McCann, Ellsbury, Beltran, Roberts, Johnson, Tanaka, but lost Petite, M. Rivera, Granderson, Cano, ARod, Joba. I’m not sure they’re better.

  • Joey D.

    Hi Destry,

    There is a “core” member named Metsie who has been quite busy of late who mocked clubs with tiny payrolls others were calling successful because he said they did not win the world championship – Oakland and Tampa Bay – which have been getting into the post-season. So we can’t really use the same argument against the Yankees, either.

    If we did, when was the last time the well heralded Atlanta Braves organization won a world series? Or even went so far as to play in one? Not since the millennium began LOL.

    Not advocating what the Yankees do – in fact, it is not satisfying at all. Rather see a club be built on ingenuity rather than the ease of a check book. Ingenuity can come in many ways, a combination of the farm system, trades and free agent signings. But just buying the best players with an open checkbook not to get established but to retain dominance – again, might be fun but not satisfying.

  • Just_Da_damaja

    im not saying the yankees approach is ideal, im saying its better than ours.

    we are the folks living in a cardboard box, making fun of someone who is having problems making payments on their mansion.

  • Joey D.

    Hi DrD.,

    Sorry to be getting in late on this but I agree pitch framing is a vital part of a catcher working with the pitcher actually goes hand in hand in knowing how to call the right pitch against each batter in each situation.

    This has been the way the art of catching and learning how to get into synch with a pitching staff has always been taught and and perhaps was just not appreciated by many long before pitch f/x technology.

    For anyone interested, attached is a brief primer on the subject.

    http://www.baseball-catcher.com/guide/settingup_count-pitch.htm