Optimism — and questions — heading into 2014

Michael Baron, Contributor

Mets senior vice president of player development Paul DePodesta believes the organization has taken significant steps forward toward becoming a consistent contender (Carig, Feb. 8).

“Ultimately, our job as an organization is to win at the big-league level,” DePodesta said. “And that’s where these successes need to manifest themselves. But there’s a road that you have to take to get there. I think we are passing significant markers in that road. That’s exciting.”

Jeff Wilpon, Curtis Granderson, Sandy AldersonDePodesta says there is a lot of optimism around the team, which feels it has a lot to prove.

I have mixed feelings on how this winter has gone for the Mets. They have created more payroll flexibility and continued to develop and protect the farm system. But, as DePodesta said, the most important thing is to win more baseball games and it’s looking like another spring with more questions than answers.

Yes, they’ve made some good moves on paper and the Mets should soon have Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom in the fold. But, even if they sign Stephen Drew, the roster is only marginally better today than it was before Matt Harvey got hurt and before letting go of John Buck and Marlon Byrd last summer. After enduring all of these losing seasons and waiting for these bad deals to come off the books, I expected the roster to be better than this heading into 2014.

I hope I’m wrong, but there’s unquestionably more work to do and little time left to do it…

65 comments
mikerolli
mikerolli

SIGN DREW!!!! Be great for the fans maybe charge fans $12.oo more - honest sign drew tired of waiting been waiting since 1986 season to return have more shows to put on mets classic

James Solomon
James Solomon

I truly believe this team will contend if they get minimum 78 hrs combined from Wright, Granderson and Ike. Thats an avg of 26 each which should be doable if Ike gets back on track.


Im loving the OF defense with C.Young/Lagares/Grandy, which should make a big difference with spacious citi field (much rather have Arroyo over Colon for that reason).



I think you may be underestimating the improvements in the outfield when you write that the Mets are only "marginally better". Last year we had one that the GM suggested didn't really exist ("What outfield?). This year we are talking about how best to use 4 or 5 decent outfielders. So I too hope you are wrong. 

TheWizard7
TheWizard7

This is your best post ever, Baron…  Honest and spoken like a real Mets fan.

Phil Mancini
Phil Mancini

Who could be optimistic about another sub .500 season about to start? 

Ricky
Ricky

For the Mets to even dream of contention, they're going to need Wright, Murphy & Granderson to have above-average years, C. Young & I. Davis to bounce back, and D'Arnaud to break out.  


To me, the rotation will be fine.  


The offense is the huge question mark - but if Young, Davis & D'Arnaud can all perform ... well, as they say, crazier things have happened.

Kenneth Meltsner
Kenneth Meltsner

What do you expect the guy to say? Really, it's like asking Vladimir Putin about the hotel amenities in Sochi. There is certainly every reason for optimism--especially as far as the pitching is concerned. But the team, as it stands now, is hardly any better than last year's squad. And could be a damn site worse if the offense continues to stagnate. I keep waiting for Sandy and his Moneyball cadre to show some of the brilliance on which they have built their reputation. They gotta do better than Frank Francisco and Colin Cowgil. And I don't think anyone is all that excited about Chris Young.

tw22
tw22

You don't know what the roster is going to look like. Puello is lying in wait. The bullpen could be awfully good and maybe Flores finds his stroke with a couple of months in the majors under his belt. Granderson makes the lineup better. Tejada should improve and Davis, well... All this with a rotation that will be as deep as any in the majors one of the best third basemen in the game and an outfield that is going to make station-to-station baseball a must for opponents, provided d'Arnaud doesn't cut baserunners down by the dozen. I have no bold prediction, but to think that this roster isn't more promising than last year's is hjpurnalistic fodder. This year's roster has less if's and more when's then the last three years combined.

Lee Lewin
Lee Lewin

MIchael,


You say its only marginally better than before Byrd and Buck. I would like to counter that argument that it is Light years better than before. 


Well for starters, you will have consistency in your lineup for once. YOu will have players who are not hitting out of position.


YOu had cowgill, Duda, and Byrd as your Opening day of..these 3 along with Kirk N. and others were shifting in and out for a good portion of the first two months. now with Granderson, Young(both) and Lagares, you have significantly more professionalism, athleticism, and power roaming the OF. 


Yes, Buck had as hot of a start as we saw in a long time, but he was argubably the worst offensive Catcher in the game post May 1st. TDA, while having a tough start to his ML Career should be light years better. 


Murphy was very streaky last year, and should be better with age and with better protection behind him in Wright and Grandy.


Wright should also be better with a legit protector behind him. No one was scared of Byrd last year, even as he produced. He was better than ever before and he's 37. And his  numbers last year still don't compare to Grandy's best years. Not even close. 


My 2 biggest issues are 1b and SS, which we know about. SS can be cured with Drew, big time. 


but even if it isn't, i still see consistency, athelticism and professionalism in hitting. This offensive team up and down is better suited by far than last year. 



mikerolli
mikerolli

Mets aren't goin in the right direction not with a triple players at 1st base / sign DREW!!! And paint the seats a citi blue n orange thank you

benmoz
benmoz

Stepping away from the baseball side of things for a second. You guys are all really naive when it comes to finances, if you just ecpect the Met to spend like the Yankees do all the time. You do realize how much debt the Mets are still in right? They owe towards half a billion dollars in payments over the next few years. So you can't be saying that the Mets are illogical for not signing Drew right away, because the $30+million commitment to him would likely not yield enough in revenue for the Mets to make it worth it. (Since all you pessimists would rather keep complaining online than actually show up at more Mets games, if they made the signing.

JC
JC

well said

Victor Triguero
Victor Triguero

Thank you Baron


For once someone on this blog gets it. They are not that good and have not done anything to improve like they said they would. The young pitching is the large and only positive..Period


"there is a lot of optimism around the team which feels it has a lot to prove" I read articles all the time about the Mets and they say the exact same thing every spring training. Mark my words...at some point during spring training we will hear once again about how the mets will  be prepared to be buyers during the trade deadline. They said it last year and the year before and did nothing

orangeblue
orangeblue

drew will sign by weeks end... will not go to the weekend, too logical of a fit

slainte2
slainte2

i think that this team needs a really good job out of Terry Collins to be competitive, better than last year.  Unfortunately, most of our guys are just limited players... they have talent, they can provide value, but they have to be put in position to succeed.   This team needs a couple of strict platoons, they need to understand/prepare for roles... and then Terry needs to give them a good opportunity, couple of months at least, to execute before you pull them out.  TC - Let them know, then let them go!  

mets2891
mets2891

It really is amazing, in a sport with no cap (spare me the luxury tax garbage) a team from NY could very well become irrelevant by the All-Star break for the SIXTH YEAR IN A ROW.  Think about that, six years, that's a lot of time to be stuck in hiatus.

Haig Mathosian
Haig Mathosian

They'll never win at citified.......it's the Shea Stadium curse

mike23
mike23

This is another typical year for the mets as they go into a season with more question marks than answers. Their roster has some bright spots but is definitely not as improved as I thought it would be after all the talk about 2014 finally being the year they can spend and the year they would start having higher expectations etc.....85 million dollar payroll right now is not cutting it, if they lose Stephen Drew on the cheap and do not go and get a veteran/proven bullpen arm with closing experience as insurance for Parnell that too would be a mistake (farnsworth wont cut it)... mets need to still add a couple more proven/quality parts to this team before the season starts if they want fans to consistently pay to go to ciit field, wilpons and sandy have to up their game or this could be another one of those long, drawn out, disappointing, losing seasons that we have all become accustomed to. Step up mets and raise those expectations to championship level. 

yankeehater
yankeehater

When a team is committed to spending less than 100 mill on payroll, in freaking 2014, then you have to know that they are not yet serious about winning anything.

Despite the big league club being a mediocre bunch, I very much like what this management group has done with the farm system. The arms are pretty much going to be there....we need 2 of TDA, Brown, and nimmo to pan out (ceccini is gravy if he does anything) and we need a great pick this year at #10. If these things happen even the Wilpons wont be able to screw it up in a year or 2.

Honestly....2 years ago who would have ever given teams like the pirates and the royals a chance at being good? In 2014 they are 2 of the more exciting teams in baseball. We need continued positive development of the minor leaguers, a good draft, and a 100-110 mill payroll next year.

rf04
rf04

I can't believe I'm playing the optimist - but let's say they had their current roster PLUS a healthy Harvey. I think you'd be optimistic. It's tough to fault the front office for the roster changes since last season, I think they're mostly very solid (other than Young on a 1 year deal... unless he rakes and becomes trade bait).

I'm not happy with the major league results, but I think currently the blame is on Harvey's bum ligament, Ike's head troubles, Ruben's work ethic, Travis's bad break (literally, in his foot last year), and a combination of some bad Minaya contracts with a sudden small town budget limitation.

I say we're heading in the right direction and Sandy's incomplete grade will start being formed possibly this year, but definitely next year. Keep your head up, Mets fans. Let's go Mets.

metstastic
metstastic

He is not the difference maker that will put the Mets over the top.

mikerolli
mikerolli

Rather mets just cut tejada rather Howard stern short stop or yucko the clown better then tejada

mikerolli
mikerolli

Owner sucks sad to say- James Dolan buy the nets spend 300 million a year lol I'm joking sorta ; )

mikerolli
mikerolli

With price of tickets ya think they gave money since only the rich can sit behide the plate- owner out of touch with the real world - why mets fans get angry with the wilpons - get Drew and throw that bum tejada packing

hotfoot42
hotfoot42

I don't want them to spend like the Yankees... I am content with them making smart signings. However I will not pay major league ticket prices to see a Triple A team. The expression is it takes money to make money... they gotta spend and put some semblance of a team out there. If they don't think Drew is an upgrade of substance, cool, they are the paid professionals. But let's be real, is he really a big name we would all pay to go see. I can count those additions in the last 10 years on a couple of fingers... Johan, Pedro, Beltran... that's about it. Drew is a nice piece, but not going to get us over the jump. I'm glad Sandy isn't spending for the sake of it, but if the finances are as dire as you say, they need to reconsider staying in this business.

Joseph DeFazio
Joseph DeFazio

@benmoz  I don't think this team will ever have anywhere near a 200M payroll.  Not advocating one either.  However, 110-120m is completely reasonable and basically right in the middle of the pack of MLB teams.  As is, we're in the bottom third of the league in payroll.  That's a joke when you play in the biggest market.  


It's also a bigger joke that management tells the fans that they need to spend their money on this team when 1) management does not 2) we have several AAAA guys rounding out the sarting line-up. 

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

@benmoz  Totally agree! I don't think any one really wants them to spend like the Yankees but in a perfect world I don't see 110-120M as unreasonable. However, you are dead on about the finances. They are in much worse shape than people realize. And with the 600M due next year I don't see how they can not cut payroll again next year. So to say they can just wait and sign a SS FA next year is absurd! At this point the Wilpons are just barely hanging onto this team. 

rf04
rf04

@orangeblue  Do you guys think Drew is an 11-12 million dollar player? I don't. Maybe for 2 seasons. (joke - kinda)

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

@orangeblue  There's your mistake, trying to think logically!!!!!! It's almost too perfect for the Mets. 

slainte2
slainte2

@Haig Mathosian  

first batter in Citifield ... San Diego maybe?  leadoff hitter drilled HR into LF stands. D'oh!

rf04
rf04

@mike23  Totally agree. Don't want Drew? - that's fine, but let's get a proven arm (or 2) for the bullpen.

ifti99
ifti99

@rf04  I think we are heading in the right direction. However, the sad fact is we can never build a contending team with 84 million dollars. Maybe you get lucky for one year, but then it all comes to an end when players want huge salary increases. Had Harvey been here, we would possibly be contenders had the payroll expanded to 110-120mm. After everything said and done, we won exactly 74 games last year and we are now missing our star pitcher. Does anyone really think this team will improve 18-20 games this year? I don't. Assuming D'Arnaud regains minor league form, and Colon and CYoung can still play, I think 85 games is probably the max, and 78-80 would not be a shock. 

mets2891
mets2891

@rf04 I have a very hard time blaming Minaya for this mess.  It's been quite a few years now and most of his contracts are off the books.  Also, last time I checked, the Mets competed with Minaya, this team hasn't touched respectability with Sandy.

hotfoot42
hotfoot42

I think he may be the only sports owner I would prefer the Wilpons over... that said sell already please.

John Paul Cullinane
John Paul Cullinane

@Tarheel11 @benmozThey have $250 million due this year they are trying to restructure and then $500 million due next year.  So, they will NOT get one of the top SS's next year because they will cost to much and Gavin C is a few years away.  SO, be thankful that Drew's market Dropped and sign him for 3 years at $10 million.  You still need another bat in the lineup from the OF though (moving Chris Young to CF and Duda/Lagares or EYJ being sent for a reliever)...

rf04
rf04

@ifti99 @rf04  I agree to a point - but the Rays contend almost every year. We could follow a similar plan. Doesn't change the fact that a NY team shouldn't be in the same financial bracket, but if we ARE - put the blame in the right place, which is NOT Alderson and the front office - it's the owners (not that you specifically did that).

Also, I agree that we've made only some progress, but take Kershaw away from the Dodgers or Verlander away from the Tigers or Price away from the Rays and they're all different teams. We lost an ACE through no fault of anyone in this organization. Sometimes s*** just happens. No need to throw blame around for that.

rf04
rf04

@mets2891 @rf04  I'm saying that a spending limit arrived with a bunch of Minaya players already locked into contracts. If Alderson KNEW he was to have a spending limit, he would have never signed those contracts, that's all. Not Minaya's fault at all - he signed those players when the finances were different - but they did affect Alderson's budget.

mikerolli
mikerolli

I'm only kidding lee- let's go mets tired of all this snow

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

@John Paul Cullinane @Tarheel11 @benmoz  Totally agree about Drew but I really don't think the BOA loan will allow them to pay for Drew and I keep wondering if they try to unload Davis they could then afford Drew. 

And the debt is actually much worse. The 600M is on their SNY stake. They've had to borrow against it adding 150M to the original 450M. Plus the bi-annual debt payments against the Citi Field construction. I don't know how tangled SNY is with the Met's legally but I wonder if they will be forced to sell of their share of SNY to pay the 600M. IF they are able to restructure the 600M I can't see how they won't have payroll constraints as part of it. Not sure what bank is going to sign off on that

Victor Triguero
Victor Triguero

@mets2891 @Victor Triguero @orangeblue  I agree...I jut wish they would stop talking like they can spend when they really can't.

rf04
rf04

@Tarheel11 @rf04 @ifti99  Yes... it's completely stupid that we should have to keep our payroll there - but that's exactly it.

Hopefully this organizational shift to player development will be supplemented by FA spending! But so far that looks like a model that only works in big markets like St. Louis, Arlington, and Brooklyn (that's nowhere near Queens, is it?).

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

@rf04 @ifti99  True. It's just going to take us some time to build up our farm system to the point of TB so that we are able to keep our payroll at that level and still compete