Now that the 2013 season has concluded, Mets 101 will be taking a look at how the New York Mets performed in the 2013 season. Over the next three days we will look at how the offense, starting pitching, and bullpen performed over the course of the season. Today we will start with a look at the most maligned unit on the team, the offense.
The New York Mets' offense was a mixed bag in 2013. While some players had success and were key contributors for the Mets, others struggled and dragged down the whole unit. In this review of the offense, we will go position by position and look at how much production the Mets received from the spot and what they need to do for the area going forward.
Catcher: The Mets started the season with veteran John Buck behind the plate. Buck got off to a hot start in April, hitting nine home runs and driving in 25 to carry the offense. After Buck cooled off, the Mets got very little from the position for a while. Buck was eventually traded away to the Pittsburgh Pirates in late August, opening the spot for top prospect Travis d'Arnaud. The young d'Arnaud struggled upon his arrival, hitting .202 with one home run and five RBI's in 63 at bats. The team's primary backup catcher was Anthony Recker (.215, 6 HR's, 19 RBI's) and Juan Centeno got a cup of coffee at the position in September.
Position Grade: B-. Buck was one of the team's best offensive players in the first half, but production at the position tailed off after his departure. d'Arnaud is the future of the position, but he didn't hit too much in limited action.
The Future: Buck is gone and will not be re-signed, so the Mets currently have d'Arnaud, Recker, and Centeno on their 40 man roster. Unless d'Arnaud is traded for a power hitter at another position, he will be the team's starter next season. The Mets will likely look to upgrade their backup spot, putting Recker and Centeno back in Triple-A and adding a veteran backstop to serve as d'Arnaud's backup.
First Base: Ike Davis entered the season as the team's primary first baseman, and quickly played himself out of the major leagues with another slow start. After Davis was demoted, Lucas Duda got a crack at the job until he was injured. Josh Satin came up from Triple-A Las Vegas and eventually found himself in a platoon with the recently recalled Davis, and did well (.279, 3, 17). Davis ended up hitting .205 on the year with nine home runs and 33 RBI's before going down for the season in September with an oblique injury, turning the position back over to Duda to finish the season.
Position Grade: D, and that is being kind. The only reason the Mets didn't get an F out of first base was because Satin played well in his opportunities. First base was a huge disappointment for the Mets, particularly considering Davis was expected to emerge as the team's cleanup hitter this season.
The Future: The future at first base is up in the air for the Mets. Sandy Alderson told WFAN's Mike Francesa yesterday that the team had three options for first base: going with one of either Davis or Duda, keeping both around, or going with somebody completely new. The Mets will likely keep one of them around, but the Mets should seriously consider upgrading the position externally. The Mets can't expect to compete getting sub-optimal production from both Davis and Duda, while Satin profiles best as a righty off the bench.
Second Base: Second base belonged to Daniel Murphy, who spent the majority of his season there. Murphy had one of his best offensive seasons to date, batting .286 with 13 home runs and 78 RBI's out of the two spot. Murphy also slid into the third spot in the batting order while David Wright was out with a hamstring injury, but he clearly fit better as a two hitter. The Mets also gave top prospect Wilmer Flores a one game audition at second base, but the result was so bad the experiment was abandoned.
Position Grade: A. Murphy was the second best offensive player for the Mets throughout the course of the season, and he was a strong contributor for the Mets throughout the season. Murphy has come a long way for the Mets over the years, and he has shown that he can be a part of a championship puzzle going forward.
The Future: Murphy certainly has more value than he did a year ago, but it would be surprising to see anybody but him manning second base for the Mets going forward. Wilmer Flores clearly did not show the Mets enough to feel comfortable with him defensively at second, and the Mets can't change out everybody in one season. Murphy should be back as the Mets' two hitter once again next season.
Shortstop: Ruben Tejada was expected to be the team's shortstop of the future after a strong 2012 campaign, but that changed quickly. Tejada showed up to spring training out of shape and didn't hit once the season started. Tejada was in jeopardy of a demotion to the minors before getting hurt, and the Mets quietly demoted him to Las Vegas once he was healthy. Without Tejada, the Mets ran out Omar Quintanilla (.222, 2, 21) essentially everyday. While Quintanilla was a solid glove man, he got exposed at the plate and appeared to be better served as a backup infielder. The Mets recalled Tejada after Las Vegas' season ended, but he broke his leg in a game against the San Francisco Giants to end his season early. Tejada only hit .202 on the year, and after he got injured the Mets were forced to recall prospect Wilfredo Tovar for depth purposes in the season's final week.
Position Grade: F. Ruben Tejada was an absolute disaster for the Mets, and the team clearly had nothing ready in case he didn't work out. Omar Quintanilla was able to man the position defensively, but he became an automatic out after a few weeks. Tovar showed some flashes in his brief debut, but it is important to note he has not played above AA prior to his callup.
The Future: The Mets clearly do not feel comfortable with the idea of running Tejada out there everyday, so expect them to go hunting for a free agent shortstop until some of their lower level prospects are ready to contribute. One name to watch here is Stephen Drew, who had a resurgent campaign for the Boston Red Sox in 2013. The Mets could also go big and try and complete a trade for Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but that would likely cost more in prospects than GM Sandy Alderson could stomach.
Third Base: Third base was a bright spot for the Mets, where their captain David Wright produced another All Star campaign. Wright was the man for the Mets offensively over the season's first four months, but he got hurt on August 2nd and missed the next six weeks with a hamstring injury. The Mets initially gave Wilmer Flores a shot to fill in for Wright at his natural position, and he did get out of the gate fast. Flores hurt his ankle in Los Angeles, however, and was never the same after that. Flores only hit .211 with one home run and 13 RBI's, and with his ankle slow to heal the Mets began to play Satin and Justin Turner (.280, 2, 16) until Wright was ready to return. Wright came back for the last 10 days of the season and carried the Mets home, finishing with a .307/18/58 line in an injury shortened campaign.
Position Grade: A. While Wright carried this grade, Satin and Turner both played well in spelling him. Flores looked good as well until he got hurt, and once he started underperforming he saw little of the field.
The Future: Considering his big extension, David Wright will be the team's third baseman for the next seven years. Its as simple as that.
Left Field: The Mets opened the season with Lucas Duda in left, hoping that he would fare better there than he did in right. Duda did not take to left either, looking slow and indecisive on defense. Duda's defensive struggles took a toll on his bat as well, as he ended up hitting only .233 with 15 home runs and 33 RBI's. After Duda was moved to first base, the Mets turned to new acquisition Eric Young Jr in left, and he brought a whole new dynamic to the team. Young brought speed and defense to the Mets, playing a stout left field and helping improve the outfield defense dramatically. Young also sparked the team at the plate, hitting .251 as a Met and leading the National League in stolen bases with 46. Young stabilized the leadoff spot and channeled fan favorite Mookie Wilson's scrappy playing style.
Position Grade: B. The Mets got next to nothing out of Duda in left, but Young fit better than people expected. Young gave the Mets speed out of the leadoff spot, something the Mets have missed since Jose Reyes left Queens two years ago. The Mets also played .500 ball after Young arrived, showing how much he sparked the team.
The Future: A lot depends on how the Mets address other positions here. Young has shown he is a great defender and can play in left everyday, but he is probably better suited as a very strong fourth outfielder for the Mets. Left is also a traditional power position, so if the Mets choose to commit to Young playing every day in left they will need to make up that power somewhere else, whether it is in right or at first base or shortstop.
Center Field: Center field was a revolving door for the Mets early in the year. The Mets began with Collin Cowgill as their Opening Day center fielder, and he started off with a bang by hitting a grand slam in his first game. That would be the highlight of his Mets' tenure, as he was in the minors by the end of April and gone by June. The Mets also ran out Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.189, 3, 14) and Rick Ankiel (remember him) before giving Juan Lagares a full time shot at the job. Lagares hit .242 with four home runs and 34 RBI's in 392 at bats, but he flashed an incredible glove. Lagares routinely made highlight plays in center field, giving the Mets tremendous defensive ability that they haven't had in center since Carlos Beltran was in his prime. The Mets also gave defensively gifted prospect Matt den Dekker (.207, 1, 6) a tryout in September.
Position Grade: C. The center field spot gave the Mets nothing offensively the whole season, but they got quality defense from both Lagares and Den Dekker later in the season. So the A defensive grade and F offensive grade essentially averages to a C.
The Future: GM Sandy Alderson raved about Lagares' defensive ability throughout the season, and he told WFAN's Mike Francesa yesterday that the team was willing to give Lagares a chance at the every day job next season on defensive ability alone. The Mets could conceivably keep den Dekker in the major leagues as his caddy next season, but that option appears unlikely at this time. Nieuwenhuis was snubbed for a September call up so his days in a Mets' uniform appear to be numbered.
Right Field: Right field for the Mets in 2013 was defined in two periods of time: the Marlon Byrd era and the post Marlon Byrd era. Marlon Byrd won the right field job out of spring training, and quickly began a career renaissance. After getting a couple of days off a week in the early going, Byrd established himself as the cleanup hitter following Ike Davis' struggles and thrived. Byrd had a career year power wise, hitting .285 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI's as the everyday right fielder. Like Buck, Byrd was dealt to the Pirates in late August in a deal that netted the Mets second base prospect Dilson Herrera and reliever Vic Black. After Byrd left, the Mets rotated through a collection of bodies in right that included Lagares, den Dekker, Andrew Brown (.227, 7, 24), and Mike Baxter (.189, 0, 4).
Position Grade: A for Byrd, F for everyone else. For long stretches of this season, Marlon Byrd was the Mets' best offensive player. After he left, right field became a black hole for the Mets.
The Future: There is an outside chance the Mets could re-sign Byrd at the end of the season, but that appears unlikely given his age and contract demands after a career year. None of the internal options, including Jordany Valdespin who missed time with a steroid suspension, are particularly inspiring or look likely to even be on the 40 man roster going forward. The Mets will likely address this spot externally, in search of a bat who can give them some power. If the Mets try the free agent route, their top target should be Cincinnati Reds' outfielder Shin-Shoo Choo, who fits the bill for what Sandy Alderson is looking for in an outfielder. If the Mets go the trade route, expect them to be in contact with the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies have plenty of outfielders on their roster, and the Mets could either go for the home run and acquire top outfielder Carlos Gonzalez or swing for a double and bring in Wright's friend Michael Cuddyer. A sleeper in the trade market could be Dodgers' outfielder Andre Ethier, who could benefit from a change of scenery.
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