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.
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.
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