Hope for the Hopeless: New York Mets

This is the eighth edition of Hope for the Hopeless, where we will take a look at the first ten fourteen teams in the league eliminated from playoff contention, and examine what their fans can be optimistic about after a disappointing 2013 season. Next up: the New York Mets.

Meet the Mets, meet the Mets, step right up and meet the Mets. Well, unless you're a diehard, you *will* need to step up and meet the Mets this September, because the team's recognizable faces are all gone. But considering that the Mets have finished below .500 in four straight (about to be five straight) seasons, isn't it better to move along from the familiar core of Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, and Jason Bay?

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Well, to an extent that's true. The team paid the non-tendered Bay and the injured Santana over $43 million to not play an inning for the club this season, and will pay them $8.5 million next year to still not play for them. David Wright is still the face of the franchise and is locked up long-term, which is a good thing, but hasn't played since August 2nd due to a strained hamstring, which is a bad thing. The team has one one of the most dynamic and talented young pitchers in baseball in Matt Harvey, which is a very good thing, but he hasn't pitched since August 24th due to a partially torn UCL, which is a bad thing. That injury could require Tommy John surgery which would put him out of action for all of 2014, which is a very bad thing.

So while the Mets do have two core players under team control for the foreseeable future, one of those two has notched under 500 plate appearances in two out of the last three seasons, and one might not pitch an inning next year. It's hard to be optimistic as a Mets fan if you keep getting slapped in the face by fate like that.

But the Mets did a good job of unloading *some* of their talent that is approaching free agency, dealing Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates in August for a pretty solid prospect in Dilson Herrera. That counts for something, I guess, considering that Buck was essentially a throw-in in the RA Dickey trade and that Byrd was signed to a minor league contract and was only making six figures.

Past all of that negativity, the Mets have thrust a lot of young talent into key roles this year as part of a sink or swim strategy that has at least given the team an idea about which players are part of their future and which aren't. Juan Lagares has stepped up in a big way as the club's every day center fielder. Despite his mediocre bat, his glove plays every day in the majors. Daniel Murphy continues to be a slightly above average second baseman. Lucas Duda can hit, but can't field. Ike Davis' second half showed what he's truly capable of when healthy. On the other hand, Wilmer Flores and Travis d'Arnaud could likely still use some seasoning, as they've struggled in their tryout in the majors.

On the mound, the Mets showed that they've got some talent not named Matt Harvey. Jonathon Niese as an acceptable middle of the rotation option. Jenrry Mejia looked electric before bone spurs in his elbow ended his year. Top prospect Zack Wheeler has had growing pains, but has improved as his year in the majors has gone on. A healthy trio of Harvey, Wheeler, and Niese could give teams problems in series without a doubt.

And then there's New York's farm system, which has improved greatly from where it was a short couple of years ago. Noah Syndergaard, the prize of the Dickey trade, has lived up to expectations and then some. Catcher Kevin Plawecki has mashed this season. Cesar Puello obliterated the ball in AA Binghamton, but was suspended for 50 games as part of the Biogenesis investigation. It's not an elite farm after graduating some talent to the bigs, but they're in a much better place than where they were under Omar Minaya.

The Mets are probably not going to contend in the NL East next year, but their time is coming. In 2015, this could be a club to be reckoned with, especially with all of the money that's beginning to fall off the payroll, which will allow GM Sandy Alderson to supplement his young roster with veterans.

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and an associate editor at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is smack dab in the middle of some of the best (and worst) sports fans in the country.

Hope for the Hopeless: New York Mets

In our Hope for the Hopeless series, we take a look at all of the teams in the league that finished under .500, and examine what their fans can be optimistic about after a disappointing 2012 season. As the Mets were the tenth team eliminated from the playoff hunt yesterday, this will be our final Hope for the Hopeless piece this year.

Coming into the 2012 season, the Mets had gashed $50 million off of their payroll. Who knows where it will be for 2013, but you'd have to guess it would be even lower than the $94.5 million it was this year. Considering all that, the Mets were expected to have a disastrous year. But for the first half of the season, the Mets were contending in the NL East. Then, the All-Star Break came, and the team came completely unhinged.

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The 2013 Mets will be a very interesting team to watch, with their main strength being the starting rotation. Cy Young hopeful RA Dickey will be back, and former Cy Young winner Johan Santana should be back and much healthier after a 2012 season that saw him break down after a no-hitter in June. Jon Niese is more than capable as New York's third starter, and with exciting rookie Matt Harvey in the four, all the Mets need is a filler fifth starter…Dillon Gee would be fine in that role, or maybe even top prospect Zach Wheeler. The Mets actually have six capable starters for five spots…that's a valuable commodity, especially with a weak starting pitching free agent market this year. The only one of those six I could see the Mets wanting to trade would be the oft-injured, expensive Santana, but he wouldn't fetch much of a return, especially if the Mets didn't want to pick up his entire contract.

Many of the Mets top offensive prospects are much more raw and lower in the system than their pair of elite pitchers. So in that aspect, New York's offense will be a chore to watch next year. David Wright will once again power the offense (in his walk year, nonetheless), and the Mets are foolishly shopping Ike Davis, who could be the best first baseman in the NL East if he's healthy for a whole year. There's also the albatross of Jason Bay's contract hanging over this team, which might almost be worth eating if only to move along with life. As for the rest of New York's offense….uh, there's a solid double play duo in Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy, and not much else. Lucas Duda is an absolute butcher in the outfield, and doesn't hit well enough to play first. Andres Torres is a non-tender candidate. Bench bats Kelly Shoppach, Ronny Cedeno, and Scott Hairston are all free agents.

I'm not enthralled with the Mets bullpen either, which needs to be rebuilt completely. That could be ugly.

In short, the Mets won't contend next year, and their games are going to be painful to watch…I imagine lots of low scoring games for the six or seven innings, only for the Mets bullpen to allow runs and blow the game. I'm sorry, Flushing…but don't go crazy, because things are going to be looking a lot better once the Santana and Bay contracts are wiped from the payroll.

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and an associate editor at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is smack dab in the middle of some of the best (and worst) sports fans in the country.

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