What's orange, blue, white, and miserable? Give up? It's a Mets fan. Since the 2006 season, the Mets have become a laughing joke in Major League Baseball. Followed by two seasons of collapses, the Mets have been in the NL East basement. Every year has been a disappointment, every off season has been a disappointing. Yet as we get set for 2014, there seems to be a change in the air.
Last year the Mets finished the season with a 74-88 record, third in the National League East. This included a 33-48 record at home and a 41-40 record on the road. They were in 23rd in runs scored (619), tied for 25th in home runs with Arizona Diamondbacks (130), tied for 28th in batting average with the Seattle Mariners (.237), 13th in ERA (3.77), and 17th in strikeouts (1209). In a year of mediocrity, one of the only bright spots for the Mets came in the form of starting pitcher Matt Harvey. He started all 26 appearance he was in, going 9-5 with 191 Ks (tied for 12th in NL) with an ERA of 2.27 (3rd in NL), and had his opponents batting .209 (5th in NL).
Now going into 2014, the Mets started things off by starting the process of getting out from underneath two large contracts. Unfortunately neither of them is Bobby Bonilla’s contract, as he is still slated to make $500,000 from the Mets for 2014 and 2015. The two contracts I am speaking of are that of starting pitcher Johan Santana and outfielder Jason Bay. Originally slated to get $25-million this year from a 6-year $137.5 million extension he signed in 2008, Santana contract was bought out for $5.5 million. With Jason Bay, since the Mets still owe him $3.0 million for the 2014 season. Last year the Mets had to pay Bay $18.125 million in dead money. So to start off by owing just $9 million going into this season compared to paying over $43 million last year is a pretty good start.
Next comes what every Mets fans feared the most other than opening day was free agent signings. However the good news this time around is that Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson was quoted to say that the meets will ‘be spending money wisely’ during free agency and the payroll ‘would be above $87-million going into 2014’. Considering that the previous GM (Omar Minaya) just threw money around at overpriced free agents, this is a big time movement in the right direction.
One of the first major free agent signings the Mets made was bringing in former Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics outfielder Chris Young on a 1-year $7.25 million contract. In 2013 with the A’s, Young played in 107 games while hitting .200 (67-for-335), getting 12 HRs, 40 RBIs, while striking out 93 times and walking 36. He also known as a defensive outfielder, recording 240 putouts on 244 defensive chances with 2 assists and 2 errors (fielding percentage of .984).
The biggest free agent signing that the Mets made came in the form of signing former New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson to a 4-year, $60-million dollar contract. Many figured that Granderson’s bat could help take off some pressure from Mets third baseman David Wright from doing all the offensive work. Last year with the Yankees, Granderson only played in 61 games due to various injuries. He managed a .229 average (49-for-245) with only 7 HRs and 15 RBsI, an OBP of .317, slugging percentage of .407, and an OPS of .723. But in 2011 Granderson hit 41 HRs and 119 RBIs and 2012 he hit 43 HRs and 106 RBIs. If he stays healthy, this could be the best free agent signing during Anderson’s tenure. Then again, there’s always the fear that Granderson could just be Jason Bay 2.0.
The next issue is what to do at first base. Last year, Ike Davis was absolutely putrid playing that position. In the 103 games he played, Davis hit .205 and could only muster 9 HR and 33 RBIs after coming off a 2012 campaign where he hit 32 HRs and 90 RBIs. In fact he was sent down multiple times to Triple-A Las Vegas in hopes of improving his offensive output but still could not muster anything. Currently as it stands, there is no impact first baseman free agent (best bet is a Carlos Pena). However if Ike Davis cannot replicate at least half of his 2012, then it’s going to be a long year at first.
Finally, the Mets need to shore up their bullpen. Though the Mets have quite a few strong arms in their bullpen (Bobby Parnell, Vic Black, Jenrry Mejia) but they are still quite young (average age is 28). There are still quite a few veteran relief pitchers out there (i.e. Kyles Farnsworth, Grant Balfour, Daniel Bard just to name a few) that could shore up the backend of the bullpen and provide depth that is sorely needed. However a majority of the big names out there have dealt with either major injury issues or are not what the Mets are looking for (looking right at you Francisco Rodriguez).
Either way, whatever the Mets try to do to fill those needs it might have to come on the cheap side (due to the cheapskate nature of the Wilpon family). Unfortunately that might deter a lot of suitors, forcing the Mets to go after grade C or even grade D free agents.
The Mets could make all the moves they need/want, bring in whoever wants to come play at Citi Field, and put out what ownership deems to be a worthy product onto the field. But unfortunately the Mets faithful know that 2014 will just be like all other previous years. The Mets will hang in tough for the first half of the season, falter a little towards the All-Star break, have a handful of injuries to key players, fall out of wildcard contention, and then finish the season with essentially a Triple-A squad. Until the Wilpons are removed from ownership, that’s what Mets fans have to look forward to.
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