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The 2013 New York Mets has local fans dreading a return to the late 1970's. This team is not shaping up well on paper. Quite frankly, Mets ownership should be completely embarrassed on the state of baseball in Willets Point.
There's no room for error by Mets players. This squad must learn to manufacture runs one at a time. Unfortunately, many outs will be given away in a small ball game atmosphere (sacrifice bunts/caught stealing). Ike Davis needs to rebound from a 2012 first half from hell. He did well in latter months and one can only hope Davis bat is consistent from April through September this season. Fan favorite David Wright is nursing a rib injury and might not be ready opening day. There you have it. Davis and Wright as the Mets only two proven players on offense and defense. Yep, that's it!
As for the rest of the lineup: An open competition between lightweight hitters in NL's weakest outfield. LF belongs to developing talent Lucas Duda who disappointed in '12 after an impressive mid-season call up in '11. CF will be light hitting Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Re-tread light hitting Marlon Byrd is rumored to have won spring training's RF battle. Collin Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin to be spot starter/utility type role players.
Up the middle infield defense leaves much to be desired. Ruben Tejada (SS) and Daniel Murphy (2B) have potential to reach base. Their biggest handicap is keeping opponents from doing the same. Not much range and weak arms will drive pitching staff crazy all year long. Davis and Wright are top notch on the corners. Catching is another potential sore spot. John Buck has a career line of .235/.303/.405. He's hit over .227 only two times during past six seasons. It should be quite clear this team will need to scrap and claw for every single run in 2013. No margin for error. It can be done. Just don't bet on it. Back up Anthony Recker was a solid minor league hitter. Only 66 MLB AB's. He could be a nice surprise if given a regular chance to play.
New York Mets pitchers need to dominate every night if this team expects to win more than they lose. All need solid defense behind them. On paper, only Wright and Davis will provide help. Jonathan Niese is an All Star caliber pitcher getting better each year. Matt Harvey is another stud. Pure ace material but still must learn consistent command of stellar pitches. He's the real deal. Johann Santana still isn't 100% and will likely begin '13 on the DL. If he can regain and keep arm strength, then, Mets have a great 1-2-3. Shaun Marcum was brought in as a 4th starter and the final rotation slot has yet to be determined.
Bullpen is very deep and talented. These guys need to shut down inherited runners and not give up late inning runs. Baseball is a funny game. Mets will not be scoring often but could shock the baseball world behind strong pitching. Bullpen arms are very lively. Brandon Lyon, Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Atchison and potential closer Frank Francisco (injured). Francisco is the wrong choice closing out for a deep and talented pen. I have a feeling he won't last long. The final bullpen slots yet to be determined.
Forecast: By all logical accounts the Mets are headed to 90+ losses in 2013 unless Terry Collins finds Gil Hodges old playbook lying around. Lack of defense and extra base power might make for a very long season. Don't give up on this overly picked on team just yet even when there's nothing to get excited about. Games are won and lost on the field - not on paper. If they hustle, execute small ball & pitch - then expect some late season excitement.