by Brandon Karsten
Key Acquisitions: OF Curtis Granderson, OF Chris Young, RHP Bartolo Colon. Key Losses: LHP Johan Santana, RHP David Aardsma. Last year looked like it was going to be a great year for right-handed pitcher Matt Harvey. He won his first four starts and had a 7-2 record heading into the All-star break. He even got the chance to start the game, which was played in his home ballpark. He didn’t disappoint with a pair of innings pitched in which he struck out three batters and allowed one hit.
However, things went downhill for the youngster after the Midsummer Classic. Pain in his pitching elbow caused the Mets to shut him down in mid-August and Tommy John surgery ensued. The injury epitomized the Mets’ hopeful start and disappointing finish.. It’s Spring Training, which means renewed hope for the team and for Harvey. Despite not being able to pitch in 2014, the New York Times reported Harvey started to throw from 60 feet for the first time since the October surgery, and felt good afterward.1
For 2014, however, the Mets will have to turn to other players to pick up the slack to improve on last year’s 74-88 record. The Mets made some moves this offseason hoping to improve on last year’s lackluster offense. They signed free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson after he played four years for the cross-town Yankees. The amiable Chicago native signed a manageable four-year, $60 million deal. The 32-year-old speedster had a bad year in 2013 due to injuries to his forearm and pinkie finger as a result of hit by pitches. He was limited to 61 games after back-to-back 40 home runs seasons for the Yanks. Granderson is expected to bat cleanup behind veteran third baseman David Wright in 2014.2
The Mets continued to add potential power to their outfield when they signed Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million pact in late November. Young played with Oakland last year and though he hit just .200 in 107 games played, he’s hit 20 or more home runs four times in his career. With the Young signing, the question the Mets have to answer is where to put Granderson, Young, Juan Lagares and possibly Eric Young, Jr in the Citi Field outfield.3 New York then turned to Oakland ace Bartolo Colon and inked him to a two-year, $20 million deal 4.
Additionally, the Mets signed a number of players to minor league deals, including Jeremy Hefner, veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth, and swing-man John Lannan. But the most notable addition was Daisuke Matsuzaka, better known as Dice-K. Matsuzaka started last year with Cleveland, but asked for his release in August and got it, and the Mets then picked him up almost immediately. Among the minor league prospects that hope to join the Mets in the not to distant future include right-handed starting pitcher Noah Snydergaard.
Snydergaard was originally the Toronto Blue Jays’ 38th overall draft pick from 2010, but went to the Mets in a trade that included former N.L. Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey in the 2012-13 offseason. Snydergaard started the 2013 season in Port St. Lucie and ended in double-A Binghamton with a chance to pitch in the Futures Game for Team USA in between those stops. He received non-roster invitee to Spring Training this year, though the New York Daily News reported that the Mets expect him to start the year in Triple-A Las Vegas.
Like Snydergaard, catcher Travis d’Arnaud came over to the Mets in the R.A. Dickey trade and looks to go north with the team after Spring Training. d’Arnaud made his major league debut in mid-August of last year and hit .202 in 31 games. Twenty-three-year old Zack Wheeler came to the Mets from the San Francisco Giants organization in a 2011 trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants. Wheeler made his highly-anticipated Major League debut in mid-June at Atlanta. His 2013 stats include a 7-5 record and 84 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched.
With all of the teams in the NL East upgrading their rosters this winter, the Mets will have their work cut out for them to compete for the division title. But confidence is high in the Mets camp with GM Sandy Alderson and team captain David Wright telling ESPN reporter Adam Rubin 90 wins is a very attainable goal for 2014. Our own Jim Monaghan takes a look at whether or not the Mets’ goal is attainable.
By Jim Monaghan
At a staff meeting late last month, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson raised more than a few eyebrows when he said that the Mets are capable of winning 90 games in 2014. Once details on that meeting got out (as reported by John Harper in the New York Daily News), the laughs and the one-liners started flying.
First, the reality – the Mets are coming off five straight losing seasons. There’s no Matt Harvey coming through that locker room door to pitch every fifth day until 2015 (though Harvey did tweet this morning that “Harvey Day 2014” will happen).
And we still have no concrete idea just how much the Bernie Madoff financial scandal has strangled ownership’s ability to spend enough cash to field a competitive team.
But while the media may be laughing all the way to their laptops and twitter accounts, and the fans (and maybe even Mets players) may be skeptical, perhaps there’s a method to Alderson’s madness that goes beyond whatever the Mets’ final win tally will be in 2014.
As much as anything else, the Mets organization needs an attitude adjustment. Alderson’s proclamation of 90 wins should be seen more as a statement that team management has raised the bar, that mediocrity isn’t going to be accepted.
Following the Red Sox 2013 World Series victory, I had the chance to speak with two senior team executives. One told me that while the organization knew the team would perform better simply by the change in managers from Bobby Valentine to John Farrell, no one really expected the end result the organization got. The other executive put it in different terms telling me, “We went out and got guys who loved to play baseball and who wanted to be here. If you didn’t want to be here, we didn’t want you here.”
Sandy Alderson’s 90-win statement should be taken by players in the organization, from low-A ball to Citi Field as a sign that anything less than a desire to win and an expectation to win will not be tolerated. Organizational attitude adjustments need to start from the top. This is a good sign for the Mets. Oh, and they might want to sign Stephen Drew to play shortstop, too. Just sayin’.
For more on the Mets’ offseason moves and the 2014 season, check out Brandon Karsten’s Mets’ preview.
Jim Monaghan can be heard Monday through Friday mornings on the WDHA Morning Jolt from 6-10AM & Sundays from 7-10AM with “All Mixed Up.” He’s also an instructor at Professional Baseball Instruction in Upper Saddle River. Follow him on twitter – @Monaghan21.