Mets depending heavily on inexperienced players in 2014

The signings of Chris Young, Curtis Granderson, and Bartolo Colon provide a clearer view into what will ultimately be the Mets 2014 squad. Barring an unlikely trade for a high-profile shortstop or outfielder, these are likely to be the biggest additions to the roster before next season. The outfield has markedly improved from what it was going into the 2013 season, though it remains to be seen whether it can replace Marlon Byrd‘s surprise 2013 performance. Shortstop and first base are still big question marks, though, and the bullpen still needs some additions.

That being said, the success of the 2014 Mets will depend heavily on the contributions of rookies, second-year players, and various other youngsters. Of course the same could be said about the 2013 team, but realistically expectations are much higher for next season.

The rotation looks to be a strength for the team even without Matt Harvey. Still, that success will be largely measured by whether or not Zack Wheeler can continue to make strides in his second season. Wheeler had a very solid rookie season in 2013 and went 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA, 4.1 BB/9, 7.6 K/9, and 1.360 WHIP. Fans should not expect to see Wheeler put up a second year like Harvey did, but the future is bright for the young hurler.

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who will maintain rookie status in 2014, did not have quite as successful a debut as Wheeler. D’Arnaud had a triple slash of .202/.286/.263 and an OPS+ of 58 in 32 games last season. This is an incredibly small sample size, but the reason for concern is not the poor numbers. The fact that the sample size ended up being so small in the first place is the most concerning aspect of his debut. There is little doubt that the young catcher has the ability to catch and hit at the major league level, but his injury history has many doubting whether he can actually stay on the field to do it. He’ll be the fulltime catcher in his first full season in 2014, and Mets fans can optimistically dream of a rookie of the year candidate if he can stay healthy.

Center fielder Juan Lagares went from interesting outfield prospect to one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball in 2013. It was quite a nice surprise for a Mets fan base that had to endure the likes of Collin Cowgill, Rick Ankiel, and Jordany Valdespin at the position through various points of last season. Lagares has the defensive chops to be a perennial gold glove candidate in the center field, but doubts remain as to whether he can hit well enough to justify a starting role.

Jeurys FamiliaThe team is still looking to add some late-inning experience to a bullpen that wasn’t quite as bad last season as in years past. However, it’s looking likely that the team will be relying heavily on young pitchers like Vic Black, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia, and others in 2014. It’s essentially shaping up to be a power bullpen, which can be truly dominating if they can live up to their potential. Closer Bobby Parnell‘s status appears to be in the air at this point so the more bullpen depth the team can acquire the better.

Ruben Tejada, still a young player himself, is likely to be the opening day shortstop again next season. He took several steps back last season and seemingly lost his starting role, but the team doesn’t have many options beyond him. He has a history of being a solidly productive player so all hopes are that he can return to being the player he’s shown he can be.

Depending on how the rest of the 2014 roster shakes out, the team may have young and inexperienced players like Wilmer Flores, Josh Satin, and Wilfredo Tovar looking to get playing time off of the bench as well. Add to that the likely promotions of prospects like Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, and Jeff Walters at various points throughout next season, and the team will truly sink or swim with their young and inexperienced players in 2014.

11 comments for “Mets depending heavily on inexperienced players in 2014

  1. NJTom
    December 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    “There is little doubt that the young catcher has the ability to catch and hit at the major league level…”
    I am not so sure. We have not seen anything from him yet. This could be a serious question mark in 2014.

    • December 16, 2013 at 9:03 am

      He’s still looked on highly for his potential, but we’ll be able to get a clearer picture in 2014. He didn’t play much at all this year after coming back from his injury.

  2. Name
    December 15, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Except for the bullpen, I don’t think the team is that inexperienced, so i think “heavily” may be a bit of an overstatement. I can easily envision a season where as long as our rookies hold their own, we can compete.

    By the way, one name missing could be Matt den Dekker. He’s been virtually forgotten( i think i’m the first one to mention him all offseason) Before the offseason started, i think most of us were expecting a Lagares/den Dekker platoon to start the year… not sure why we stopped thinking that…

    • Jerry Grote
      December 16, 2013 at 8:13 am

      … could it be that DenDekker never improved even *a little bit* on the *one* thing the team and fans asked him to do … his strikeout ratio? And then, when he did get to the major leagues his ability with the bat came through pretty loud and clear (yes, limited ABs)?

      DenDekker *might* play gold glove defense. Lagares does. In his limited time, MDD got to 2.23 balls per 9; Lagares, 2.98. At the least, MDD should be somewhere near JL. He’s not even in the same ballpark.

      How about what they did offensively at LV, last year? More of the same.

      So there is a reason we aren’t rehashing MDD this offseason. Maybe some day he recaptures 2012. But right now he’s at best a defensive replacement in the OF … and there isn’t much need for that on a team with 3 starting CFers.

      • December 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm

        I know you know this JG but for the benefit of other readers who don’t:

        MDD got off to a brutal start in Triple-A, going 1-25. After that dismal stretch, he was just fine. After that start, he amassed 172 PA and put up a .338/.401/.545 line for a .946 OPS. Meanwhile, in 82 PA in LVG, Lagares put up a .929 OPS.

        In the majors, MDD put up a .546 OPS in 63 PA. In his first 65 PA in the majors, Lagares had a .517 mark.

        My belief is if you gave Lagares and MDD each 600 PA, that MDD would put up a better OPS. We saw what Lagares did defensively last year and it was terrific and that should earn him the starting job on Opening Day. But it’s not like MDD is a slouch out there with the glove.

  3. Sean Flattery
    December 15, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Sandy did actually say if Tejada is the shortstop he will acquire a veteran backup. Sorry Wilfredo!!!

    • Metsense
      December 16, 2013 at 8:45 am

      Sorry Rob but I can’t agree with your statement “He has a history of being a solidly productive player”. In four years Tejada has had two poor seasons and the other two he was slightly below average. That isn’t a history of solid production. Tejada as the backup middle infielder in 2014 would be OK.

      • December 16, 2013 at 9:14 am

        In 2010, his first year in the majors at 20, he put up a -0.3 bWAR. In 2011 and 2012, he put up 1.9 and 2.0 bWAR, respectively. In 2013 he just completely fell apart. The Mets can absolutely live with the 2011/2012 versions of Tejada, especially if they can get production from the rest of their lineup. But I would definitely be on board with an upgrade if one was available.

  4. Metsense
    December 16, 2013 at 8:32 am

    After the RA Dickey trade, the “plan” for 2014 was to play inexperienced players, TDA, Wheeler, Montero and Syndergaard. The Mets got an unexpected surprise in 2013 with Lagares. This indicates the change of philosophy from the previous front office. The Mets actually appear to have some above average major league players here.
    TDA needs to just put up NL average catcher numbers 17 HR, 307/379/686 in his rookie year and I’d be satisfied. He has the minor league pedigree to do much more than that and if he does the lineup will be improved.Sometime in the future he should slot into the #5 hole in the order.
    The other player that the Mets will depend on is Mejia, who you failed to mention. If he shows anything near his 2013 performance over the course of the full season then the Mets will be vastly improved.
    TDA and Mejia are my “difference” makers in 2014 and I like the idea that there will be dependence on young players to change the direction of this franchise.

    • December 16, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Metsense, the plan was to build a contender from within, yes. Your successful teams usually won’t be ALL homegrown. Going into the 2014 season, the Mets haven’t added a veteran that’s a real difference maker, though. Granderson is nice. So is Colon. But they aren’t going to be the pieces that turn a team into a contender. For that to happen they need their young players to really contribute heavily. That may not have been conveyed in the article clearly enough.

      And the omission of Mejia was unintentional, but maybe speaks a little to how he’s fallen off the radar in general. I would be thrilled if he finally puts in a fully health season as one of their key pieces.

  5. Grote 1969
    December 16, 2013 at 10:48 am

    The additions of Granderson and Young can may have quite an effect on the lineup card.

    Eric Young cf
    Murphy 2b
    Wright 3b
    Granderson rf
    C Young lf
    Ike Davis 1b
    D’arnaud c
    Tejada ss

    Although trades are likely involving Davis and Murphy, I almost wish the Mets would leave things the way they are. Good things can happen to Davis and Tejada with the additions made during the offseason. If Davis and Tejada have a better then average season, this team could go far.

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