MLB Team Report - New York Mets - INSIDE PITCH
Though the Mets never admitted it, 2013 was always supposed to be a transition year for the franchise. Of course the Mets hoped to remain competitive all summer long, but they also understood the challenge. Their roster was virtually unchanged from the group that finished in fourth place one year earlier.
Their main goal for the season was to transition their top young prospects to the majors, which they did successfully with pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. But the Mets also suffered several setbacks along the way with significant injuries to Matt Harvey, David Wright, Bobby Parnell, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Johan Santana and others.
"You can sit here ... and talk about the what-ifs of the year," said manager Terry Collins, who on Sept. 30 received a two-year contract extension that includes a club option for 2016. "What if Matt didn't get hurt? What if David didn't get hurt? What if Johan didn't get hurt? You can't do that. You've got to deal with reality, and that was we competed as best we could. I couldn't ask any more out of each and every guy in that room from the effort side, the coaches and their preparation. We went into spring training as we have the past couple years with people saying, 'You're going to lose 100 games. You're not going to be very good.'
"Are we happy with where we are? No, not even close, because we should have won more games. We were in position to win more games. We didn't do it. So we've got to figure out a way to get better."
Given all that, the Mets are entering one of their most interesting offseasons in years. General manager Sandy Alderson has promised Mets fans that he will open his checkbook this winter, following three consecutive offseasons of light spending. So expect the team to be busy on the Hot Stove front, pursuing at least one outfielder, at least one pitcher and potentially even a new starting shortstop.
The uncertainty stems from the fact that there is no telling exactly how much money the Mets will actually spend, just as it is hard to say how many new players the Mets actually need. Due to injuries and inconsistent performance, the Mets have no idea who is going to play first base for them next season, for example. So in addition to signing quite a few new players, they will look to streamline their roster through trades.
Perhaps nothing this offseason will be as critical as the status of Harvey, who is trying to figure out whether he can avoid Tommy John surgery to repair a partially-torn ulner collateral ligament in his right elbow. Coming off a breakout season (9-5, 2.27 ERA), Harvey is one of the Mets' most valuable players and perhaps their best chance at a quick return to playoff contention. Alderson has already admitted that without Harvey at full strength, his offseason agenda may significantly change.
"We've just got to continue to improve," Collins said. "Hopefully our young players can get better as we get along. We know we've got some good pitching coming, and we have to truly believe we're good enough to win."
MLB Team Report - New York Mets - NOTES, QUOTES
2013: 74-88, third place in NL East
TEAM MVP: 3B David Wright may have missed seven weeks in August and September with a right hamstring strain, but he was still the engine behind New York's offense when healthy. In the first season of an eight-year, $138-million contract extension, Wright established himself as an early MVP candidate, hitting .309 with 16 home runs in 105 games prior to his injury.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: For the second straight year, 1B Ike Davis suffered through a massive early-season slump, batting .161 with a .500 OPS over his first 55 games. Without health issues to blame it on this time, Davis earned himself a minor league demotion and never really recovered, suffering a season-ending oblique strain on the final day of August. Entering his age-27 season, Davis is no longer the team's unquestioned starting first baseman.
TOP PROSPECT: Right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who the Mets acquired with catcher Travis d'Arnaud in last winter's R.A. Dickey trade, was one of minor league baseball's top pitchers in 2013. Syndergaard finished 9-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 23 starts split between Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, striking out 133 batters and walking 28. He is primed for a midseason debut next summer.
--RHP Greg Burke and LHP Sean Henn were outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas as the Mets removed them from the 40-man roster. Burke, 31, went 0-3 with a 5.68 ERA in 32 appearances for New York this year. Henn, 32, appeared in four games with the Mets in 2013, going 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA.
--OF Mike Baxter was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers on Oct. 17. Baxter, 28, hit .189/.303/.250 with no homers, four RBIs and five stolen bases in 74 games with the Mets this year. Over parts of four major league seasons with the Padres and Mets, Baxter has a .229/.335/.348 career hitting line with four homers, 26 RBIs and 10 steals in 194 games.
--LHP Robert Carson was claimed off waivers by the Angels from the Mets on Oct. 17. Carson, 24, had no decisions and an 8.24 ERA in 14 relief appearances for New York this year. In 31 major league games for the Mets the past two years, Carson has a 6.82 ERA.
--RHP Matt Harvey, who was the National League's starting pitcher in this year's All-Star Game, has decided to undergo Tommy John surgery that probably will sideline him for the entire 2014 season. The Mets made the announcement that Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery later this month to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Harvey, 24, had said he wanted to avoid surgery by rehabilitating the injury and undergoing a throwing program of 6-8 weeks in hopes of pitching next season. However, team officials said then that surgery was a possibility. Now the Mets hope he can regain his form in 2015. Harvey went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts this past season, striking out 191 hitters in 178 1/3 innings. He lost his last two decisions and did not pitch after Aug. 24.
--RHP Bobby Parnell will spend his entire offseason rehabbing after undergoing surgery in September to replace a herniated disc in his neck. The Mets are optimistic that Parnell will be ready by the start of spring training, after establishing himself as their closer with 22 saves in 26 chances. But if Parnell is not ready, manager Terry Collins is comfortable slotting rookie Vic Black in the ninth inning, also.
--RHP LaTroy Hawkins wants to continue his career after appearing in the second-most games of his career at age 40. Forced into ninth-inning duty due to Parnell's injury, Hawkins was just as effective as ever in the 19th season of his career. He said he is open to playing for any team that will give him a chance at age 41, and the Mets could be a fit.
--SS Ruben Tejada is at a career crossroads due to the poor offensive season he endured in 2013. Battling multiple major injuries, including the broken right leg that ended his season early in September, Tejada is no longer the Mets' clear starting shortstop. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and the Mets may look outside the organization to replace him. But Tejada, who should begin rehabbing his leg in November, is still tops on the depth chart until further notice.
--1B Lucas Duda should hear plenty of trade rumors this winter, given the Mets' logjam at first base. Duda made it clear he is not comfortable playing the outfield, and the Mets finally seem committed to him as a first baseman after years of shuttling him around the diamond. But with 1B Ike Davis still in the mix, it is likely that one of those two are traded this winter. Both are eligible for arbitration, though Davis should command a significantly higher salary.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The talk's pretty much over now. It's time to go get it done on the field." -- Manager Terry Collins.
MLB Team Report - New York Mets - ROSTER REPORT
For quite a while now, the Mets have pointed to the 2013-14 offseason as the time that they will finally start spending liberally on free agents. Even with Matt Harvey's status uncertain, the Mets are satisfied with the state of their pitching and feel they have enough to compete with anyone on that side of the ball.
What the Mets don't have settled is their outfield situation, which they hope to address through free agency. The team is also interested in at least one starting pitcher and perhaps a shortstop. They have only $25 million committed to two players heading into the offseason, so even if they maintain their current payroll level of around $93 million, the Mets should have ample opportunity to improve.
BIGGEST NEEDS: Similar to a year ago, the Mets desperately want a starting outfielder, preferably one with power. The snuggest potential fit appears to be Reds free agent Shin-Soo Choo, though it remains unclear if the Mets will be willing to offer the type of multi-year megadeal that Choo should command. If not, they could look to acquire multiple mid-level free agents, or perhaps package together some of their young starting pitchers for an impact outfielder via trade.
FREE AGENTS: RHP David Aardsma, LHP Tim Byrdak, LHP Pedro Feliciano, RHP Frank Francisco, RHP Aaron Harang, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, LHP Johan Santana (club option)
As they work to rebuild their bullpen again, the Mets could re-sign one or more of their free agent relievers, though none are a priority. Harang and Matsuzaka are unlikely to be back as well. Santana is still rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, making him unlikely to pitch anywhere next season.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: 1B Ike Davis, 2B Daniel Murphy, SS Omar Quintanilla, SS Ruben Tejada, INF Justin Turner, OF Lucas Duda, OF Mike Baxter, OF Eric Young Jr., RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Dillon Gee, RHP Bobby Parnell
Of the names above, Murphy, Gee and Parnell are the most integral pieces of the Mets' future. Either Davis or Duda is likely to be back as well, though not both. Tejada is the default option at shortstop, though the Mets could pursue a replacement over the winter. The rest of the names on this list are bench players or organizational depth who will return only if the price is right.
IN LIMBO: 1B Ike Davis, 1B Lucas Duda, SS Ruben Tejada
Davis and Duda might not both survive the offseason now that Davis' stock has fallen while Duda has established himself as a first baseman, not an outfielder. Tejada has fallen out of favor with the organization, but bringing him back may wind up being the Mets' only option.
--SS Ruben Tejada (broken right fibula) was injured Sept. 18. His recovery is expected to take until November.
--RHP Matt Harvey (partially torn UCL in right elbow) had an MRI exam Aug. 26 that revealed the season-ending injury. Harvey received a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on Sept. 16 and will attempt to rehab rather than undergo Tommy John surgery. Harvey was expected to embark on a six- to eight-week throwing program to determine whether he can avoid surgery.
--LHP Scott Rice (sports hernia surgery in September 2013) should be fine for spring training.
--1B Ike Davis (strained right oblique) missed the season's final three weeks. He should be back to 100 percent well in advance of the start of spring training.
--RHP Jenrry Mejia (right elbow surgery in August 2013) had bone chips removed. Mejia is expected to recover in time to compete for a rotation spot in spring training.
--RHP Jeremy Hefner (Tommy John surgery in August 2013) will miss most of the 2014 season.
--RHP Bobby Parnell (neck surgery in September 2013) had a herniated disk repaired. He might not be ready for the start of the 2014 season.
--LHP Josh Edgin (fractured left rib) suffered the season-ending injury in late July.
--LHP Johan Santana (left shoulder surgery in April 2013) missed the entire season. It's unlikely he will pitch in 2014.