Some Honest Hope for 2014

11482737It’s now been over three weeks since Bartolo Colon signed. Since that time, other than the daily Ike Davis rumor, it has been pretty cold on the hot stove. Once we signed Colon I’ve felt we were done with any large 2014 acquisitions, but surely I could be wrong. There are still some free agents out there, and there is no trade deadline approaching. But if I am right, and other than a flurry of dumpster diving signings what you see is what you get, I still think we have improved this team from 2013. That doesn’t make us a surefire contender, or even a surefire .500 team. But it’s a start, and it is nice to have some optimism as I open up my 2014 calendar. For the first time in years I like the projected roster more than the one left behind.

A year ago at this time our outfield was such a joke even Sandy Alderson couldn’t resist taking a shot. Now we enter the year with a proven commodity in Curtis Granderson, and a full year from Juan Lagares and Eric Young Jr. Add in our other signing, Chris Young, and the group looks very different from a year ago. Yes, Marlon Byrd exceeded expectations and Granderson might only be able to match Marlon’s production. But the other spots look much better. Last year’s team was sunk early, and the follies of Cowgill, Kirk, Ankiel, and any other shot case I forgot was a big reason why.

lucas-dudaI also have been impressed by the type of outfielder we targeted, as both Chris Young and Granderson should be above average fielders. Lagares, we know, is a fabulous fly ball chaser, and Young Jr. makes up for his shaky instincts with world-class speed. Young Jr. is probably the worst defender of this bunch. A year ago we played Lucas Duda in left field. The year-over-year defensive improvement is enormous. Sandy Alderson had been ignoring outfield defense for years, even though we play in spacious Citi Field, and the result was a historic run of bad play in our own park. You have to be able to win at home, period, and I feel our record at Citi Field will improve greatly this year.

The infield, on the other hand, looks very much like the one we had on Opening Day 2013. Travis d'ArnaudCatcher will change, as John Buck is gone and prospect Travis d’Arnaud is getting his chance to play. D’Arnaud is a real wildcard for overall 2014 fortunes, with the possibility of being a significant upgrade to Buck. It’s now or never for d’Arnaud, who did not hit in September 2013. It appears a Duda/Satin platoon will replace Ike. This platoon does not excite me, but again, it should not be hard for this position to improve year over year. Davis was not bad, he was dreadful. If Duda can be mediocre first base is better than 2013.

When you get to the rotation, improvement is hard to see, due to the glaring 2014 omission of Matt Harvey. Colon will be needed to fill some of that void, but he should have help. Zack Wheeler will be around for all of 2014. Let’s not forget how long we had to wait for Wheeler in 2013. Niese and Gee are back again and the current number five starter is a mystery. Hefner is gone for the year, but so are Marcum and Laffey. Those last two will not be missed. As great as Harvey was, it is hard not to be concerned about losing ground here but if Colon comes through this should be a solid starting staff. I do, though, see that as a big 10 million dollar if.

The bullpen looks murky right now but it did last January too. As we did a year ago I expect some cheap veteran signings. Parnell is the key, if he is back we can fill this bullpen. Vic Black should be a useful arm, and forgotten man Jeurys Familia has been healthy and pitching this winter.

A few more moves would certainly help, and it is hard not to get frustrated with an ownership who will not fully commit to winning. But despite this I see improvement in this major league roster and have some honest hope that this team will be improved in 2014.

jump-to-2014

 

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22 comments

  1. IB says:

    I thought EY looked great out there in LF. At one point I thought it might just be that he looked great after watching the big lug, Duda running in circles. Or maybe, it was the Swaboda effect – get a bad jump then dive! But then, he kept making one fine play after another, some game saving. But, did you know he was one of 3 Gold Glove finalists for LF?

    • Michael Geus says:

      I thought the Gold Glove consideration was over the top, but due to his speed he was fine. The possibility that we have three outfielders who might be better shows how dramatically this has changed from January 2013.

      • Eric says:

        This Roster should win 78-84 games…. with Drew, 81-87……NO Sabermetrics have been used in this projection—just my EYE Chart,

        Drew plus some “reasonable hope” would put them on the edge of a Wild Card…. I’m all-in on a 4 year Drew Deal.

        • A four-year deal would be bidding against ourselves. Three would get it done today. I think Sandy is angling for two, on the cheap, whereas the Red Sox really only need him for one.

          Despite the Boras rhetoric, I actually think Sandy and Scott understand each other perfectly. They are like Republicans and Democrats who at the end of the day drink in the same bar. Colon came out of the blue, but my take is that it was a matter of pulling the trigger. The perimeters had been worked out long in advance. I like Drew for two years, and maybe some kind of option for the third. He’s an oft-injured veteran who can make all the routine plays and hit a little bit. On this team, that has value. I wouldn’t want to get too locked into that, however.

  2. I am not optimistic . . . yet. We don’t know the 5th starter, and the bullpen looks unfinished. Throwing a bunch of unproven guys out there seems wishful. More moves to come, hopefully.

    We lost Matt Harvey. Hard to see improvement based on that alone.

    Just a quibble, but I don’t think it’s “now or never” for d’Arnaud. Transitioning into a full-time catcher job at the ML level is a massive responsibility; I don’t think you can underestimate the weight of that burden. I think it will take the bat 2-3 years to settle in over the long haul. What I’m hoping for from Travis is a solid year behind the plate, learning the league, building relationships with the staff, and not having his natural, proven hitting ability destroyed by Dave Hudgens & Sandy Alderson.

    Right now, things are just too unsettled for me to project hopefulness for 2014. Still waiting for the other shoe to drop. But if it doesn’t, as Mike suggests, I’m not seeing a team that has made up for the loss of Matt Harvey, and improved on top of that.

    Last year we did a piece while wearing “Rose-Colored Glasses,” and we’ll repeat that exercise again at the appropriate time. I’m not ready to put them on right now.

    • Alan K. says:

      One could argue that the addition of Grandy and Colon and the subtractions of Byrd and Harvey and incremental improvement by some of the young players still essentially results in a wash at best, meaning the 2014 Mets are what are they were in 2013. Right now first base and SS are still black holes, we don’t know what version of Chris Young to expect, and for all of his defensive brilliance, Lagares’ 2013 numbers were not good at all.

  3. ERAFF says:

    Drew has 14 million on the table…for ONE year. When I say I’m “all-in for 4 years” I’m expressing my feeling that this allows a good year by year $ total for a very good and usable player.

    I don’t see any Logic that would provide the Mets with an advantage that would land Drew for 2 years….unless you’re gonna double the one year offer made by the Sox—$14 million. If Drew’s Market value is NOW 11-13 per, he could take the one year deal and gamble that he’s getting AT LEAST an 8 million dollar one year next Winter—- He DOES need to see a reason to sign with another team!

    3 Years at 12 would seem to be “around” the magic number. He’s a Professional, Championship Caliber Shortstop– his injuries seem to be more a result of playing middle infield versus age—he’s 31?

    He provides a 750 OPS Lefty Bat and a Mid IF Anchor….. maybe there’s not much rush on his part either. The Mets have no other alternatives.

    This brings me to my “Graveyard Scene from the Good, The Bad, and The Ugly—-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awskKWzjlhk

    The Good: Drew/ BLONDIE(Clint Eastwood) Blondie

    The Bad: The Red Sox/ SENTENZA (Lee Van Cleef)

    The Ugly: Sandy—Eli Wallach/ TUCO …he has NO Bullets

    • My understanding was that he, like Cruz, rejected the 1 year/$14.1 million offer in order to exercise the right to explore free agency. Is it a fact that offer is still on the table? Can, likewise, Cruz say to the Rangers, “Nevermind, I’ll take that $14.1 after all!” I don’t believe so.

      Nevertheless, if it comes down to money, the Mets can’t go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox. I’m with Sandy on Drew, not a guy I want to overpay for, but I’d love to have him.

  4. RAFF says:

    This Tanaka Bidding has lots of potential deals bottlenecked. Specific to Drew- The Sox want him back, but they also want to stay under the cap. They’re shopping some of their veteran pitching – Dempster, Peavy, etc to shed $ to make room for Drew, but they can’t get a bite on them until the rest of the free-agent pitching situation gets squared away – Beginning with Tanaka. Sox won’t commit to more than 2 years for Drew, unless they also move the young 3rd Baseman, Middlebrooks. In the End- it sounds like the Mets best hope is to land him on a 3 year deal, if the Sox cap it at 2. Don’t think Sandy wants to commit to 4 years for this guy. So- it’s really just a waiting game, now. See where the other pieces fall

    • I’ve felt for a while that if Sandy went 3 years, he could land Drew today. I don’t know what the dollar number has to be, but I’d wish $30 million could get it done.

  5. RAFF says:

    The offers are off the table, but in the Drew case- it’s a mere technicality. The Sox, in fact – would LOVE Drew to come back for 1 year and $14 Million. That’s actually their perfect scenario.

  6. >> The perceived market for Drew is such that many assume he’s going to return to Boston, though as one executive said: “What incentive does Ben [Cherington, the Red Sox’s GM] have to give him any money?” <<

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/top-remaining-free-agents-getting-squeezed-by-draft-compensation-045058687.html

    In any event, the rules make this an entirely new situation, and nobody — not the players, not the owners, not the fans, nobody, including me — has it as it all figured out.

  7. RAFF says:

    Clearly – the Sox would like to have Drew Back- with a contract length of 2 years or less. My larger point is that they will out-pay other teams, right now, on a one or 2 year deal.

  8. This article on Nelson Cruz is good, and some of the speculation in the comments is also interesting.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/where-could-nelson-cruz-even-fit/

    Point: Turning down $14.1 guaranteed might not be the best strategy in the world for all players. When you add surrendering a draft pick, the price gets steep on the marketplace. It will be interesting where he ends up. Faithful readers might recall that Mike and I had some back-and-forth on Cruz’s ultimate contract a while back.

  9. ERAFF says:

    The Neslson Cruz Scenario is This: He’s an extraordinarily One Dimensional Player with a HUGE Texas/Home Field Platoon diferential. NOBODY believes enough of his game will “travel”…. He’s a Rich and Foolish Man’s CHRIS YOUNG!!!—without Legs or a Glove!!!

    242/299/435/734 Nelson Cruz CAREER away from Texas Home Field
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=cruzne02&year=Career&t=b

    235/315/431/746 Chris Young CAREER Numbers TOTAL
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/y/youngch04.shtml

    So…who plays me in the Movie?…Brad Pitt or the Chubbly Guy?????

    • I’m sorry, I’m not trying to get at his value. I’m more interested in what a final contract might look like for a player who turned down $14.1 for a single year. The original internet consensus was that it would take 3/$45, using the $14 per as a baseline. I wasn’t so sure about that, and now I’m less sure than ever.

  10. RAFF says:

    To get back to the original post- I think the Mets are deeper and more flexible- All in all a much better team on the field than they opened with in 2013. More flexibility in the daily lineup, and more flexibility moving forward in trades and acquisitions. Clearly, they’re still going to need some BP arms, and I still worry about injuries and inning counts for the Starting Pitching. Hopefully, this is where they’re going to have some innings to give to some of the younger prospect arms, around mid-season.

  11. Michael Geus says:

    I liked Peralta more than Drew, but wow, so far they have had very different experiences.

    Of course Detroit did not offer Peralta arbitration, and he came compensation free. It’s still early January, but so far the draft pick has seemed to be a major stumbling block.

    I still expect these guys to come out fine. I know a team that gave a 41 year old Bartolo Colon a two year deal for over $10 million a year. In an environment such as that $14 million for one year is not that much money. Unless any of the players settle for less than that they made the right move rejecting the offers (financially.)

  12. Dave says:

    3 yrs/ 35 mill will probably get Drew at this point. I follow the Red Sox fairly closely, and he is a steady player. Makes all the routine plays and some of the tough chances. 12 HRs/50 RBIs/.250 BA is what to expect. I’d be happy to see him batting 7th or 8th for the Mets.

  13. Alan K. says:

    Just noticed that Bartolo Colon bears a strong resemblance to Pussy Bompensiero from the Sopranos. As For Drew, I think he’s there for the taking, but I get the feeling that the Mets don’t want to spend any more significant money this winter.

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