Hope springs eternal, Noah Syndergaard and the 2014 Mets

Night logoHope springs eternal in the human breast;

Man never is, but always to be blessed:

The soul, uneasy and confined from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

2013 is winding down.  The Mets have proven things this year to their fans and rivals:

  1. Matt Harvey is an Ace
  2. The Met’s have a wealth of internal pitching talent
  3. David Wright can be a leader
  4. Marlon Byrd had something left in the tank
  5. NEVER expect a game to last only 9 innings

With 2014 on the horizon there are some considerable questions to answer:

  1. Will the Mets spend on Free Agents (and risk draft picks in compensation)?
  2. How can you fit Wilmer Flores into the lineup with a healthy David Wright?
  3. What the heck happened to the Ike Davis we all fell in love with?
  4. Is Terry Collins worth an extension?
  5. Can the Met farm system develop a single MLB level outfielder?

The thing that I’d like everyone to look at instead is the names of some Met prospects who might factor into 2014’s success.  Hope springs eternal for this Met fan and like Frank Sinatra, I’ve got High Hopes.

Noah Syndergaard – The Mighty Thor could be summoned from Asgard as early as late June or early July.  Now, some will say that the Mets will want Syndergaard to get more seasoning in the levels of AA and AAA before the call goes out… but you never know when Loki will unleash a horde of alien creatures on the planet.  The point is, that the Mets know they have a major talent on their hands with Syndergaard (I expect him to be in the top 10 prospects for 2014) and adding him to the ranks with Harvey and Wheeler will be mighty tempting.  The promotion will depend on a few factors:

  • His Spring Training Performance – Met fans will start to clamour for him if he shows them something promising in the Spring.
  • His AAA Performance – Las Vegas is a pitcher’s nightmare.  If he can keep his ERA in check there… he can do it anywhere.
  • Met Finances – The Mets will not risk “Super Two” status with Syndergaard.

Rafael Montero – Rafael Montero will be in competition with Dillon Gee and Jenrry Mejia for the final spots in the rotation.  Like many people I think that Montero (who should be on BA’s Top 100 for 2014, if there is any justice) will be traded as the “expendable” prospect in the Met system.  I personally look at a Montero for Chris Owings swap with Arizona who doesn’t need the short stop but could use the MLB ready arm.  Should Montero not be traded we need to get things into perspective.  He’s not Ironman (Harvey), Hulk (Wheeler) or Thor (Syndergaard).  Captain America is obviously David Wright.  He could be Hawkeye and that means a steady contributor who keeps the team in games without the star power.  Hawkeye was always my favorite, for what it’s worth.

Jacob deGrom – I am currently of the opinion that we should see deGrom start the 2014 season on the MLB club.  For those who ask me why I point to the simple fact that deGrom has more raw stuff than Gee, Mejia or Montero.  This doesn’t mean I see him winning a spot in the rotation (he could, but I don’t actually see that), instead it means that deGrom with his heavy sinking mid-90s fastball could become a very valuable bullpen piece.  The Mets will need a long reliever and spot starter but more importantly deGrom brings some needed heat into the ranks of Met relievers.  I’d bet the Mets don’t agree with me and keep deGrom in AAA as the 6th starter.

Jack Leathersich – While we’re making Avengers metaphors, allow me to introduce Ant Man.  People doubt him because of his size and lack of zip but he is deceptively effective.  We have all looked at his astonishing minor league K/9 numbers but we need to put things into perspective before we start penciling him in as the setup man or closer for the team.  He’s going to have growing pains in the MLB and might have a 5.00+ ERA as he learns to deceive a higher caliber of hitter.  We may need to be patient as 2014 could prove to be a long training montage for our diminutive hero.

Jeff Walters – I can’t deny that Walters has enjoyed a lot of success in AA this year.  He’s been the team’s closer and he’s been rock solid.  There is a good chance he’ll be in the running (with a couple of free agents) for the MLB bullpen with a fallback option as the AAA closer for 2014.  Walters does not have a future as the Met closer.  In the end I don’t think his stuff is up to the task.  I do think he has a future in relief at the major league level and I think that future begins in 2014.

Cesar Puello – The good news for Puello is that his suspension will not affect his 2014.  He’s going to start 2014 either in contention to start the season in the Met outfield (if he’s on a AFL team this becomes more likely) or he’s going to AAA where he will need to prove to Met management that he can identify good pitches to swing at.  Puello will likely start 2014 in the Top 15 Met prospects after dropping down the list in the previous two seasons.  The expectations will be back and we should remember that he struggled the last time we thought this highly of his future.  Should the Mets bring in multiple outfielders via trade and free agency you can expect his debut to be much later in the year or after injury.

Allan Dykstra – The Mets actually head into 2014 with many options for firstbase.  They have Ike Davis (who has struggled mightily through 2013), Josh Satin (the OBP machine with majestic eyebrows), Lucas Duda (the powerful lefty who learned to walk and forgot how to hit for power), Zach Lutz (who just can’t catch a break) and Dykstra.  One of the best unheralded trades in recent Met history the Mets traded the wasted pick of Eddie Kunz for the seemingly wasted pick of Dykstra.  Since becoming a Met Dykstra has displayed the power stroke that made him a first round pick and has been one of the most consistent bats in Binghamton.  With the glut of players who are vying for that same position I don’t see how Dykstra gets his chance in AAA unless the Mets make a deal to get rid of Duda or Davis.  We’ll see…

Cory Vaughn – Say what you will about this streaky hitter but he’s done okay in AA during his first season at the level.  He isn’t a lock to progress to AAA but he is showing us that he should still be on the radar (though maybe only as a 4th outfielder).

Darin Gorski – The Mets are in love with lefty relievers but they don’t have many starters in the ranks of the minors.  If you go as far down as Savannah you’ll find Steven Matz but the only legitimate starter above A+ is Gorski.  First, no… Mark Cohoon is not a legitimate prospect.  Second, yes… Gorski is.  I think he’s a long way from being a super hero analogy, but he could become a rotation mainstay by 2015.  My question now is whether he will do that on the Mets.  Like Montero, Gorski has value and could be traded because the Mets don’t “need” him.  His left-handed-ness does change that slightly.

*****

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20 comments for “Hope springs eternal, Noah Syndergaard and the 2014 Mets

  1. Metsense
    August 25, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Excellent summary David.
    Mejia, Niese, Gee, Montero, deGrom and Gorski are the trade bait and I can see two being moved this winter.
    deGrom in the bullpen is something that is appealing but that should not be a 2014 option.
    Gorski as the 6th man in the September rotation, although aggressive, should be done. He pitched a gem last night and has no innings cap.
    Puello and Vaughn in AAAin 2014 competing as injury insurance.
    Lutz and Dykstra unfortunately will never see the lights of Citifield. Too many ahead of them. Trading them for some OF or SS minor leaguers of equal value may be doing them a favor.
    Leathersich and Walters should fill the Atchison, Burke type roles in the BP.
    Sandy has the money, trade pieces, and farm system talent to improve this team in 2014. I HOPE he does.

    • TexasGusCC
      August 25, 2013 at 9:49 am

      Metsense, it certainly seems that way. But, seeing that Duda has been around since 2011 and not done much, showed some power, but not much else, now he’s showing some OBP, but not much else, if he puts it all together you have Adam Dunn. IF! How long can this club keep him around waiting for that? Prospects need to move up, and it’s not like they are blocked by an all-star and a potential all-star.

      • August 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

        2011 – 137 OPS+
        2013 – 123 OPS+

        If this is nothing — I’d like to order nothing at every position on the diamond.

        The Mets just need to put Duda at first base and leave him alone. What they think/hope they have offensively with Davis, they actually do have with Duda. And we haven’t even addressed the possibility that his offensive numbers improve from those listed above if he’s at his comfort position of 1B and not trying to worry about playing a position in the outfield which he cannot physically handle.

        • August 25, 2013 at 10:31 am

          Yeah,I don’t get the dislike for Duda.The organization seems to dislike him too.But Ike Davis is a “core player”.

          • August 26, 2013 at 10:15 am

            I’m not in the Davis or Duda camps right now. I’m in the camp of people who think the Mets most pressing concern is OF and SS.

  2. Jim OMalley
    August 25, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Montero has out of sight control: as of right now, he’s at a 137/33 k/bb ratio.

    • David Groveman
      August 25, 2013 at 9:16 am

      Just like a certain bow toting Marvel super hero…

      Coincidence?

  3. Jim OMalley
    August 25, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Damn…not up on my Marvel super heroes. All I can come up with is Green Arrow but he was DC.

  4. Jerry Grote
    August 25, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Staggered, David.

    I have nothing to add and am in complete agreement. An excellent piece.

    • David Groveman
      August 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      I staggered someone, wow!

  5. AV
    August 25, 2013 at 11:43 am

    I see Dykstra starting 2014 as the Las Vegas 1B. I think the Mets will move either Duda or Davis, depending on which one gets them the better deal.

    My personal preference is to have a platoon at 1B with Duda/Davis and Satin. Satin has proven he can play at the MLB level but I suspect he might be overexposed as an everyday player. I went to ESPN’s roster construction page and found out that there are 257 RHP’s versus 108 LHP’s in MLB (or a 70/30 split). With this ratio, I can live with Satin starting roughly 25-30% of the games (since most LHP’s tend to be relievers) and Duda/Davis being the starter 70-75% of the time.

    • August 26, 2013 at 10:16 am

      The Mets can only promote Dykstra if Duda or Davis is gone.

  6. NormE
    August 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    David,
    I really don’t want you to get a swelled-head but, your research and insights are a pleasure. Good show!

    • David Groveman
      August 25, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Don’t worry. It fills with helium. So all that happens is I talk high pitched.

  7. za
    August 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    I agree more or less with everything except for a couple of contradictions you put up with regards to call-up date. There’s a very good chance the Mets will be willing to go Super 2 on Syndergaard if we start off on fire with him pitching well. We will definitely wait for the extra year of control. I’m less sold on us calling up Puello before Super 2 since we’ve moved him very slowly; he would have already been playing on the Marlins had he been brought up in that system, for example. I also think we should leave deGrom as a starter until/unless he proves otherwise since starters are always more valuable than relievers.

    • August 26, 2013 at 10:17 am

      The Mets should have the pitching to start 2014 without starting Syndergaard’s clock.

      Puello will be up as soon as there is room. The Mets will likely have two new OFs after the offseason so that could be a while.

      I suggest moving deGrom because he could help the MLB club from day 1.

  8. HK
    August 26, 2013 at 9:49 am

    How do we know if Puello is any good. Wasn’t he just busted for ped’s????

    • August 26, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Puello’s PED use was during a season he laregly spent injured. My guess is that he was desperate to get back on the field and used the PEDs to help himself heal. It’s still cheating but people seem generally okay with the fact Andy Pettitte did that.

  9. Chris F
    August 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Linking with the present state of the pitching staff, it is clear we need to be careful about who we can offer up. Basically, a quick look at the pitchers with injuries weve had makes me seriously question our training staff and Warthen. I wouldnt call our pitching woes unprecedented, but we have lost almost a whole staff to serious injuries. With today’s news that Wheeler and Harvey as burned out, I cannot wonder whether we are risking serious injury before either are genuinely stretched out for a MLB regular season, let alone a post-season.

    this brings me to the concern about where this team projects for a good run. Harvey and Wheeler arent full season ready now. Next year (’14) we can hope for Harvey, and Wheeler the next (’15). We can expect Syndergaard next year but to be in the same spot Wheeler is. He may not be full season ready til ’16. No difference for Montero. THe long and short of it, just from getting a great staff to pitch 162+ games we are 2 years off. You add the new faces that mus be coming, and the chemistry that must develop, I see our window opening in ’15 and poised for ’16-’18.

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