Your 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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