NL East Preview… New York Mets

Last year the New York Mets finish under .500 with record of 74-88. The 2013 season may be just as tough for this team that has found itself in the middle of a transition as other teams in the NL east have only gotten stronger. But the Mets have had some decent prospects in their system and added a few more this off season.

Off Season
The Mets big off season moves were trading R.A. Dickey and signing David Wright. Dickey was moved to the Blue Jays along with a pair of  catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas. In return they received a pair of catchers Travis d’Arnaud and John Buck also accompanied by RHP Noah Syndergaard and OF Wuilmer Becerra. Becerra played in just 11 games in his pro debut last season  but was sidelined after getting hit in face by a pitch and breaking his jaw. He’s only 18 and he was a big signing out of Venezuela in 2011. For Noah Syndergaard the Blue Jays thought highly enough of him to say ‘no’ to the Oakland A’s when the Athletics were shopping Gio Gonzalez around in 2011. 2012 in single A he struck out 122 batters he face over 103 innings with a WHIP of 1.08. Travis d’Arnaud was the center of the deal for the Mets. The former Phillies prospect was sent to Toronto in 2010 as part of the Roy Halladay deal. Last season he batted .333, slugging .595 and hitting 16 home runs in 67 games for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2012. He has above average speed for a catcher and is offensively MLB ready. His game-calling and defense aren’t MLB ready as of right now but he will be pushed along quickly.

The Mets  most likely made David Wright a Met for life this off season. He is set to make $138 million over the next eight years.They also inked Shaun Marcum to a one year worth $4 million with an additional $4 million in incentive.

Probable Lineup                                 Probable Rotation

1. Collin Cowgill, CF                        1. Shaun Marcum
2. Daniel Murphy, 2B                      2. Jonathon Niese
3. David Wright, 3B                         3. Jeremy Hefner
4. Ike Davis, 1B                                 4. Matt Harvey
5. Marlon Byrd, RF                          5. Dillon Gee
6. Lucas Duda, LF
7. John Buck, C
8. Ruben Tejada, SS

Starting Pitching
The NL east may be the strongest division in baseball with the Nationals, Braves and Phillies all getting stronger. If the Mets were truly going to compete they were going to need a perfect season. But already that doesn’t appear to be happening. Johan Santana has re-torn his anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder and will be out for the season. Unlike Tommy Johns surgery, shoulder tears are notorious career-enders. Their number two pitcher, Shaun Marcum, will also miss the start of the season with a neck injury. They are trying to avoid a stint on the DL so they will have Marcum pitch a simulated game today or tomorrow. If he is able to throw 75 pitches they will try to get him back into the rotation in game five or six. Jeremy Hefner will likely step into the rotation to try to fill the void left by Johan but has been dealing with a elbow contusion. This rotation is going to have to rely heavily on their young arms Niese, Gee and Harvey. Plus they will be expecting the arrival of the top prospect Zac Wheeler later this season.

Bullpen
The Mets took a different approach from last season when revamping their bullpen. Instead of going after big market names they signed a few cheaper veterans. Pedro Feliciano, Brandon Lyon, LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison were all brought in to help solve the problems of last years bullpen. And all with the exception of Feliciano will be on the Opening Day roster.  Bobby Parnell will be taking over as closer replacing Frank Francisco who struggled in that role last year.

Lineup
When healthy David Wright is one of the best hitters in the game. This lineup will rely mostly on Wright and Ike Davis as their run producers. For the Mets to compete they are going to need Wright to have an MVP caliber season and Davis to be an all-star. Davis hit 32 HR’s last season after getting off to a slow start due to fatigue associated with valley fever he had during spring training. But he only batted .227. Lucas Duda will play left field and Marlon Byrd will start everyday in right field. Byrd and Duda will bat behind Davis. Byrd was signed to a minor league contract after being suspended for 50 games last season for testing positive for a banned substance.

Overview
The Mets have some cause for optimism especially with some of their young arms in the starting rotation. But that optimism is for future teams not this season. The NL east is stronger than I can ever remember. It’s star studded across the division with house hold names on virtually ever team. While each team has their superstars most of them are spread through Washington, Philadelphia and Atlanta.  It’s going to be a brawl between those three teams all season. But when it comes down to the end of the season the best I see coming from the  Mets is playing the role of the spoiler for one of the three playoff potential teams.

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