What kind of team are the 2014 New York Mets?

Terry Collins

Terry Collins (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

We think 2014 is going to be a good year for us.

Everyone should know to take whatever a manager says on the first day of spring training with a rather large grain of salt. That’s even more important with a skipper like Terry Collins, who tends to say whatever he is thinking at the moment and then change his mind a few days (or even a few hours) later.

Some of Collins’ comments last week have me wondering about his thought process and expectations for the 2014 Mets team. When asked about the last spot in the starting rotation, he said:

 

Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his Mets debut on Aug. 23, 2013 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Daisuke Matsuzaka (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

“I’ve always said those veterans can really get you out of the blocks. Then, when those kids are ready, they’re the ones a lot of times that bring you that extra energy, especially late in the summer.”

That’s great news for John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka, and not-so-great news for Jenrry Mejia. If the Mets are a “win now” team, it makes perfect sense to think this way.

But if they’re really looking at 2015 or beyond, it would make more sense to give Mejia – the guy who will still be around next season – the advantage in the competition.

Asked about who would be the team’s leadoff hitter, Collins said:

“As we sit here today, Eric Young is the guy you want to see at the top of the lineup.”

Juan Lagares

Juan Lagares (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The idea of Eric Young Jr. as an ideal leadoff hitter can be left for another day. Right now, let’s focus on where he’s going to play.

Curtis Granderson and Chris Young were Sandy Alderson‘s biggest additions to the Mets lineup, so it’s safe to assume that they are going to play most days. Daniel Murphy is making $5.7 million, so he’s going to be a regular – whether it’s at second base or first. And Collins is still enamored with Ike Davis‘ home runs. Lucas Duda is also in line for playing time at first base and the outfield.

All of that adds up to bad news for Juan Lagares, the 2013 New York Mets’ best defensive player and one of the best in baseball last season. Sure, his bat wasn’t anything to get excited about in his rookie season, but at age 24, one could still expect he might improve… at least if he gets to play. A “win now” team can justify limiting his development in order to have a late-inning defensive replacement available. And according to the Star-Ledger‘s new Mets beat reporter Mike Vorkunov, that’s exactly what Collins wants to do. But a team that’s looking to the future needs to get him regular at-bats, ideally at the major league level, and if that’s not possible, then in Triple-A.

It definitely sounds like the Mets’ manager expects the 2014 New York Mets to have a chance of contending for a wild card spot, at least. It’s probably more realistic to think about 2015 or beyond, but maybe enough guys will have career years to make this season a special one.

I just hope that a couple of months from now, we’re not looking at the results of roster decisions and playing time allocations that were made based on wishful thinking.

You can follow Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff on Facebook or Google+, see my photos on Flickrand Instagram, and follow @Paul_Hadsall on Twitter, where I talk about about a variety of things in addition to baseball.

 

 

About Paul

NY Mets enthusiast, toy collector, amateur gardener, Christian. I like to take pictures & write things.

Posted on February 17, 2014, in Baseball. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. They’re a 79-win team this year, and I give Collins one more year running this squad.

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    • If they win 74 games again this year, I’m pretty sure they’d be doing something for the first time in team history. I see a few instances where they kept the same win total in two consecutive years, but I don’t see any occasions where the Mets have done that three times in a row.

      Given that most of Sandy Alderson’s off-season additions just restored the August 2013 status quo, I think there’s a shot.🙂

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  2. What would you expect Collins to say after they dropped $60 million on Granderson, $20 mil on Colon and $7 mil+ on Chris Young, ‘We’re really gonna suck this year?’ If he said that, he would have been fired before Spring Training.

    He has to be on board with this, at least publicly, and he has to spout the company line. I’d like to hear what he says in the privacy of his own house. That could be amusing.

    It’ll be the pitching that keeps them in games this year as the offense appears to largely be dead. If the starting staff is halfway decent and the bullpen contributes, .500 is a possibility. My guess? 75 wins. And I hope the Mets keep Collins and Alderson. This isn’t their fault. It’s the Wilpons.

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    • Mark, I’d have a bigger problem with Terry Collins if he didn’t have something positive to say about the team as a whole. I’m just not thrilled by his attachment to “proven veterans” and making guys leadoff hitters when they shouldn’t even be starting for a decent team.

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      • Paul,

        I’m curious as to how much input Collins had on the acquisitions. Was he gung ho on getting Chris Young? If so, why? Did he think Granderson was worth four years and $60 mil?

        Or, as the old (abridged version of the) joke goes (and forgive me for the language)… A lowly office worker, when asked about an idea says, “This is shit.” By the time it makes it up through management and gets to the CEO’s office, it’s a “powerful fertilizer that will promote growth.” I’d like to know if Collins thinks these acquisitions are shit, a powerful fertilizer, or somewhere in between.

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        • I’m assuming that Terry Collins had limited (if any) input on off-season player moves, and that he will have to play Chris Young and Curtis Granderson based on their salary commitments.

          Aside from acknowledging them as part of a crowded outfield situation when discussing where Eric Young’s playing time is going to come, I didn’t really mention them.

          One of my mayor issues with Collins is common to many managers: he’s overly loyal to “proven veterans.” As I see it, the 2014 Mets are a team that needs to take chances with younger players who might be part of their future. Right now, Collins is talking up players he could send to the bench (Eric Young) or push to have assigned to the minors (Matsuzaka & Lannan) over players who just may be able to contribute in 2015.

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  3. As usual, I’m the odd man out. I don’t have any problem with any of this. I think you’re getting a vet as starter #5 to start the year. I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t know what their plans for Mejia are–possibly the pen–but they ruined him years ago and he’s never going to be what he could have been. Wouldn’t surprise me if they trade him before the season starts. Dice-K (most likely) or Lannan are just keeping the spot warm for Montero (most likely) or Syndergaard come mid season.

    The Mets don’t have a leadoff hitter. Its a fact. They’re entranced by EY and the juice he bought to the team last year. Unless CY is godawful this spring, your outfield is going to be EY,CY & Grandy (I thought, for a while, they might give Grandy first dibs at center since he’s making the big bucks, but it appears he and the Mets are on the same page that he’s not a centerfielder anymore). I knew that before Collins said a word. Meanwhile, the fans were entranced by the glove Lagares brought last year. The thing is, you’re both wrong. EY shouldn’t be a starter and Lagares isn’t as good as he showed last year (his defense hasn’t shown to be that good and, frankly, even that anemic average was Lagares playing over his head). In his years in the organization, the Mets NEVER considered Lagares a legitimate prospect. I don’t think they do now. I don’t think they’re wrong. Again, I may be alone, but den Dekker is a better player both in the field and at the plate. He strikes out too much, but he showed last year that he’s developing some plate discipline. Don’t worry, den Dekker skeptics; the Mets are unlikely to give him another shot before September. I think they’re wrong about that, though. EY will play himself out of the line-up by mid-May. But the next turn will go to Duda. Just sayin’. Unless there’s a trade, which there very well may be.

    In your infield… Ike is your first baseman this year. Get used to it. Despite all the organization’s badmouthing, Murphy is competent enough as a second baseman and quietly one of the best offensive second sackers in the league. Unless they trade him–which I think would be a mistake at this point–he’s staying put at second this year. He’s an offensive liability at first. When EY plays himself out of the lineup, Murphy becomes your leadoff hitter by default. EY will still get decent at bats, as you’re fourth outfielder and 2nd second baseman. Wright is obviously your Hot corner…stone, so to speak. Let’s hope he stays healthy this year. Only short is in flux and, sadly, that’s Flores’ worst position.

    None of this surprises or dismays me in the least (except that Flores makes Tejada look like Rey Ordonez with the glove). They’re going to try to get off to a fast start. Maybe they will although I keep hearing in my head, “Aw, Bullwinkle, that trick never works.” As the season goes along, they’ll work in some of the kids and–as I’ve been saying for some time–I fully expect one major impact trade along the way (likely for an outfielder or a shortstop). And I mean the kind that brings back a name…like Braun or Kemp or Tulo. Not saying those are the guys, but those are the kind of guys we’re talking.

    This is just a warm up for next year. They won’t finish the year with the lineup and rotation that starts it. But I’ll go out on a limb and say they finish 82-80. I think 75 wins is too pessimistic. And, no, Collins should not be back next year. Certain managers are good for certain stages of a team. Collins is a good guy to run the ship when you know you’re not going anywhere. You need a different kind of skipper when you are. I could see Collins making it through the year or fired mid-season. Either way.

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    • We do agree on a few points:

      – Daniel Murphy is probably the best leadoff option likely to be on the roster this year, and he is best suited to play second base.

      – Eric Young should not be starting

      – Terry Collins has to go before the team is going to take that next step.

      I’m not sold on Juan Lagares either, but I’d rather give him a chance to build on 2013 (or prove that it was a fluke) than bench him to play Eric Young.

      And I’m actually ok with Ike Davis getting one more shot at first base – I just don’t want to see him and Lucas Duda on the same roster.

      But that fifth starter’s spot should be Jenrry Meija’s to lose unless you really think the 2014 Mets can be a “win now” team – how do you get fans to buy into a plan that’s focused around young pitching if you are starting Bartolo Colon and Daisuke Matsuzaka every fifth day?

      Sure, Mejia’s probably not part of the long-term plan either, but we know Matsuzaka and John Lannan are not.

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      • Right now, everybody is tied for first place. You concede nothing and you start the people most likely to help you win now. Or rather the people you think are most likely to help you win now. That’s not a Mets thing, that’s a baseball thing. How many teams come into a season saying, “We’ll be lucky to play .500 ball, so we’ll be sitting our veterans and trying out a bunch of different unproven kids and hoping for the best”?

        Now, mind you, this is just the set up going into spring training. Lagares and Mejia want the jobs? Go out and win them. I’d say the same for den Dekker or Montero or Flores or anyone. Go out and play so well this spring that the Mets are FORCED to play you. Even though we all know spring training is meaningless, lots of players have forced their way into the lineup through their spring play. You want the job? Go out and win it.

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        • A fair point, although I’ve never been a big believer in strong spring performances as a meaningful barometer for regular season success. There are too many minor leaguers getting innings and at-bats and too many major leaguers working on specific things instead of pitching or hitting the way they would in a regular season game.

          Still, let’s hope Terry Collins keeps an open mind.

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  4. Paul,

    Can’t hit ‘reply’ anymore, so I’ll start again.

    Collins may be overly loyal to proven veterans. But, he can’t sit Granderson (you want $15 mil riding the bench?) and he can’t sit Colon. And he might not be able to sit Chris Young. Dice-K and Lannan, etc., are not “proven veterans.” There was a time, once. But, for now, their time is past and they’re roster fillers. Unless, of course, Collins thinks guys like that are “proven veterans,” in which case it’s time to unload Collins.

    I’m with Stubby on this one. If a young kid shows something in Spring Training, put him in the lineup at the start of the season. The Mets have zero to lose. Or maybe 90 games.🙂 And, in the case of the Mets, everyone in the league is tied for last and the Mets’ll have to dig their way out. Again. And fail. Again.

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