What should be expected from the Mets for the next five months
- Updated: May 1, 2013
As the month of April is now behind us, the New York Mets are intent on trying to right the ship of what has been a disappointing month. To say it has been a struggle would be an understatement. Less than two weeks ago, we as the fans were giving the team respect for its good start. After Saturday, April 21st win against the Twins, the team stood at 7-4. Since then, the team has gone 3-10 with some bad losses along the way. The offense, which was one of the early season strengths and surprises, has gone back to what it was in the second half of 2012. In a follow up piece, I will break down which is worse, the Mets 2012 bullpen or this year’s version? Starting pitching outside of Matt Harvey and Jonathon Niese has been non-existent. And oh how quick the fan base has jumped off the Collin Cowgill-Marlon Byrd bandwagon.
After stating the obvious, it is time to take a march back into the past off season and remind ourselves what the expectations should be. The Mets came off a 2012 season left with a ton of holes. The one strength took a hit when the Mets traded RA Dickey to the Blue Jays, weakening the starting rotation. The Mets entered the 2012 offseason with Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter as their potential 2013 starting OF after the release of Jason Bay. The bullpen looked attrocious and they posessed the worst offensive catching tandum (Josh Thole and Nike Nickeas) in team, and maybe MLB, history.
Getting John Buck and Travis d’Arnaud in the Dickey trade was a plus. Outside from that, few of GM Sandy Alderson’s low budget moves have panned out. Cowgill has lost the starting CF job just as fast as he got it and RF Byrd is now a platoon player at best. The injury to Johan Santana has forced the Mets to have to use Jeremy Hefner (a 6th starter in the big leagues) and Aaron Laffey (a AAA starter) to pitch 4th and 5th in the rotation. Of course, things can change with free agent signing Shawn Marcum back and maybe top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler on the horizon.
Easily pointed out difficiencies in the outfield and bullpen were not addressed, or addressed half ass. Cowgill is making the league mimimum and Byrd had his minor league contract purchased. It is safe to say, the Mets are getting what they paid for. Though the signing of Scott Rice has turned out to be a good one, the rest of the bullpen does not look improved. Brandon Lyon will probably put up numbers similar to Jon Rauch in 2012. Guys like Rice, Scott Atchinson and Latroy Hawkins were available on minor league contacts for a reason. There is a difference between rolling the dice and upgrading a weakness. The Mets chose to roll the dice.
I find it laughable that fans are wondering why this team is not winning. Sometimes a team is just not good enough. But the future looks bright, right? Matt Harvey has pitched phenomenal so far this season. Wheeler being up soon should help. As far as d’Arnaud is concerned, will he be better offensively than Buck has been in the month of April? Probably not, but Buck will not be either. The next five months may not be easy, but will probably serve as a barometer of what to expect going into 2014. The debuts of d’Arnaud and Wheeler and maybe even RHPs Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard will be anticipated, but will not save the team from being a second division ballclub.
I will not be completely negative. I do think 2B Daniel Murphy and LF Duda could have breakout seasons. Despite questions about his start once again, 1B Ike Davis still hit his HRs and make the Mets infield of David Wright, Murphy, Ruben Tejada and Davis the team’s biggest strength. At least that should be fun to watch. Harvey has looked better than anyone could have imagined. People keep saying Wheeler will be as fun to watch. Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives just like at the end of last season.
Despite some questionable moves by manager Terry Collins over the past couple games, I still think he is an average manager. In spite of that feeling, he is a lame duck who will certainly take the fall for this team being what it is. No manager will get a team with this many holes to compete. But fans will get to see blood as Collins will not last past the conclusion of this season. It is fitting he is on the last season of his contract.
What should be expected for the Mets in the final five months of the season? I expect to see more struggles. The offense could be better than it has been over the past week and a half, but it will be nowhere near what it was in the first 11 games of the season. Marcum needs to become the bargain he seemed to be when he signed for $4 million. Otherwise, the other options will doom this team. Bad starting pitching will make a not good bullpen worse, and I can see them hitting rock bottom. However, I do see them playing better in the second half. With Wheeler up before the All Star break, d’Arnaud playing in the big leagues and my predicion that a major league outfielder will be acquired via trade, I see this team playing some better baseball in August and September. Unfortunately, they will be way too far out of the race to be a contender this season. Hopefully the optimism for 2014 pans out. Otherwise, Sandy Alderson will finally have to be held accountable for what has happened.