Wild Cards: Travis d’Arnaud, Chris Young and Whoever The Shortstop Is

joker cardsYour intrepid columnist is usually pretty bad at predictions. Oh, not a Mike Francesa-level of ridicularity, but the mark is usually missed. If the Mets’ first baseman is projected to hit 35 home runs, he will invariably hit eight. If a star pitcher looks like a lock to win four games, he will break the tape with 12. Kids who look like they have a ton of upside fall on their faces, while another rookie will blaze from nowhere and blind-side everybody. Nevertheless, an attempt will be made.

From over here, things look slightly up from last year. Yes, the Mets are missing Matt Harvey. Yes, Marlon Byrd has taken his surprising talents down the Turnpike apiece. Yes, it looks like a scramble to maintain the 74-win plateau, achieved so disappointingly the past two seasons. Looks can be deceiving, as we all know, and there’s a lot of “should” around this squad. But bear in mind that GM Sandy Alderson has brought in two of the bigger-ticket items on the winter shelf. Curtis Granderson should easily replicate the production provided by Byrd last year, while Bartolo Colon should take up the innings-slack left by Harvey. The pitching staff should also be bolstered by a full season – finally! – from Jenrry Mejia and projected mid-year call-ups Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard. Bullpens are always a crapshoot and the 2014 Mets’ looks as stable as any, he said with crossed fingers. So the pitching looks like it will be a strong point. Outfield defense looks like it will be absolutely outstanding, considering that it will be manned by three natural center fielders. Not much should fall to the greensward.

As for position players, here’s where it gets a little tricky. For all of Ike Davis’s woes last year, most of us would probably sign on for a Dave Kingman-type season: low AVG, middling OBP and soaring SLUG. If Davis hits .212, but launches 28 or more homers, that would probably feed the bulldog. Daniel Murphy should continue his “Slapsie Maxie” act and be good for a big OBP and 30-plus doubles. Jumping over to third, David Wright is David Wright. If he remains healthy for the whole year, he will put up his normal stellar numbers. As stated, Juan Lagares – recipient of the Rookie Of The Year award for his Dominican Winter League team – will run them down with the best of them. If he duplicates hit winter league accomplishments, he will basically be a second Murphy in the lineup: a singles hitter who will surprise you with the occasional homer. But boy can he play D! In right, Granderson will undoubtedly see his Yankee Stadium-driven home run totals eaten up by Citi Field’s cavernous reaches, but still should be able to crack the 25 homer, 85 RBI marks. So two-thirds of the lineup looks like it can be easily predicted. It’s that last third that’ll get you.

First of all, at this writing, no one knows who the shortstop will be. Stephen Drew is still out there, isn’t drawing any interest – even from his former, pennant-winning club – and is seeing his price point plummet. He looks like he’d be an ideal fit for this year in Queens. However, the front office keeps chirping that it would be perfectly fine starting the season with Ruben Tejada in that hole. The guess here is that Drew will be signed and Tejada will be his backup. If Drew can put up his average year, that’s a large improvement over the Tejada/Omar Quintanilla combo that played out there last year. It is absolutely imperative that Travis d’Arnaud lift his woeful offensive numbers from a year ago. It is nearly impossible to predict that he will. There is hope, but we don’t…know, y’know? Likewise the outfielder Chris Young, who has battled injury and was miscast in a platoon role with Oakland. Seeing as neither has had much of a career to this point, it makes it extremely difficult to pinpoint what exactly a “career average” year is for either of them. This is why the entire Mets’ offense hinges on these three wild variables. If they all hit well and everyone else hits a career norm, things could look very bright indeed. If things break right, we could be looking at an 82-85 win team. That probably won’t be enough to backdoor a playoff spot, but still…

Could three wild cards spell one Wild Card?

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5 comments for “Wild Cards: Travis d’Arnaud, Chris Young and Whoever The Shortstop Is

  1. January 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Feels like we’ve been in a perpetual state of “well, who knows how it will turn out?” for years. Unpredictability can be exciting, but at this juncture it’s exhausting. Sure would be nice to be able to confidently know that the team is in the playoff race consistently. Hopefully that occurs sooner rather than later.

  2. Patrick Albanesius
    January 24, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Forgive me if I’m misreading, but it sounds like you said Chris Young hasn’t had much of a career to this point. I’ll take a 162 average of 81 runs, 73 RBI, 24 HR, 35 doubles, and solid D for less than $8 million, and I’ll say “Thank you sir, may I have another.”

    • January 27, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      I was thinking more in terms of longevity, rather than performance. If he puts that up, I’ll take it every day of the week & twice on Sundays…

  3. pablo
    January 25, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Boston went from last place in 2012 to WS Champs in 2013. I understand they have quite a farm system, plus of course they don’t have the financial woes the Mets owners got themselves into. I’m not even close to being an expert, just a long time Mets fan waiting to see another world series championship for the Mets during my lifetime. I’m very happy & exited with the potential of our young pitching staff, but I don’t want to see them get overstressed due to a lack of runs being scored. Lack of scoring runs has to put a lot of extra pressure on these young guys. It would have liked to see a really potent cleanup hitter in our lineup this year, but unless Ike Davis or Chris Young can turn it around that’s not going to happen.

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