Saturday, March 29, 2014

2014 New York Mets...Please Don't Make Us Wait Until 2015

Baseball is back. The 2014 season begins in just a few days and every team starts with a clean slate and the same goal of winning the World Series. While it is the GOAL of every team, it is just a DREAM for many. Unfortunately the New York Mets have been perennial dreamers for close to eight years. Based on the roster heading north from Spring Training, it's looking like 2014 may be a repeat of 2013...and 2012...and 2011 and every season going back to 2006. In other words it's looking like another losing season. Maybe they'll surprise us, but with so many questions throughout the lineup and a lack of major acquisitions it's hard to see how the Mets will improve on their 74-88 2013 record.

Apparently the club's General Manager feels differently as Sandy Alderson predicted that the Mets will win 90 games this season. Alderson is beginning the fourth year of  his four year contract and his rebuilding project appears to be taking longer than fans had been led to believe. Hopefully Alderson will prove me wrong, but when Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis or Lucas Duda are two fourths of your everyday infield, it's hard to believe that he will.

So here's a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2014 New York Mets:

The Good

David Wright is the heart and soul of the Mets. He's an all around good guy, loyal to the club and even more important, he's a very good ball player. I truly hope that the Mets win a championship at some point before Wright retires as he deserves to be part of a winner.

Curtis Granderson should prove to be a very good addition to the Mets' lineup.He will bring added power and provide protection for David Wright in the batting order. Granderson is a quality player and will be a positive influence on the younger and less experienced Mets players.

Daniel Murphy is not the greatest player, looks a bit awkward in the field, but he is a hard worker, keeps his mouth shut and HE CAN HIT. It is amazing how consistent Murphy is at the plate. It would be great if he could exhibit a bit more power, but he is the guy you want at the plate when a hit is needed. He also should be given credit for working his butt off to become a much more reliable second baseman.

Young pitching. The fact that Dillon Gee has been tapped as the Opening Day starter is a bit disconcerting; not because he's bad, but he's no Matt Harvey. Even without Harvey in the rotation, John Niese, Zack Wheeler and Gee are three good young arms. In addition, promising 24-year-old Jenrry Mejia may get the fifth starter spot. Waiting in the wings are the highly touted Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. Another 24-year-old with potential, Jeurys Familia, will probably get the chance to show his stuff out of the bullpen.

The Bad

First of all, bad here really should be called uncertainty. Some of these players have put up good numbers in the past and some may again, but questions surround this group.

Bartolo Colon has had a great career. The Mets signed him in the off season to be a part of the starting rotation. What troubles me is the fact that he's going to turn 41 in May and let's be honest, the man is rather large and looks more like a middle aged man with a beer belly than a top athlete.

Then there's the outfield. Granderson is really the only certainty here. Gone is Marlon Byrd who was a godsend last year for the Mets. Instead we have Eric Young, Jr. and Juan Lagares vying for the center field job. Both have pluses and minuses. EY Jr. brings energy to the Mets lineup, but has never been an everyday player. Lagares is a defensive star. He's unproven as a hitter, but I would go with him as an everyday player. Lastly is the addition of Chris Young. He's had a great spring, but Young is a career .235 hitter so why the Mets think he's going to be a power hitting outfielder is beyond me.

Catcher Travis d'Arnaud will be the Mets' everyday catcher. He arrived, along with Syndergaard, as part of the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto. He was considered a big chip so he has a lot to live up to. It's way too early to tell what kind of player he will be so at this point he's still an uncertainty.

The Bullpen. Bobby Parnell has looked solid and really should be a part of the good list...but, the bullpen as a unit is a question. When Terry Collins goes to the pen and brings in Scott Rice, Jose Valverde or Carlos Torres there's no telling what you're going to get. Time will tell, but I wouldn't call it a solid pen.

The Ugly

I am still pissed off that the Mets traded Jose Reyes. Ruben Tejada has shown enough for most fans to realize he is not good enough to be the Mets' regular shortstop. Last year was a disaster and if he doesn't hit for average or field his position cleanly, he should be shown the door. Shortstop is the Mets' weakest link.

The Mets begin the season with no idea who's going to be the club's everyday first basemen. That in itself is a problem, but compounding the situation is the fact that it's between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. Duda has power, but he doesn't get on base enough and he is slower than Friday traffic on the LIE. I've seen fly balls to the outfield that should be easy outs, turn in to singles as Duda is too slow to reach the ball in time to catch it.

As for Ike Davis...this is it. We all know he's a great guy, we know that he has proven he has talent in the past but no one wants to hear about Valley Fever or how he's a slow starter. It's time to put up or be shipped out. He's been a liability the past two seasons and the Mets couldn't even find a team to take him as part of a trade during the off season. He, like Tejada, has to show he deserves to be on a Major League roster right from the go. Mets fans will be all over these two, and fast, if they stink day in and day out. If the Mets want to have an automatic out in the lineup, they might as well sign me. I'd come at a much cheaper price.

So, while I always hope that the Mets will surprise us all and terrorize the rest of baseball, I've seen enough over the past seven years to realistically say I don't expect the Mets to be good or even improve on last season. While Alderson says the Mets will win 90, I see the Mets winning no more than 72 games. Let's hope I'm wrong. Regardless, Lets Go Mets!

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