The Mets: How Bad Will 2013 Be?
So the R.A. Dickey trade not only removed a 20-game winner from the rotation, it failed to address a single immediate pressing need for the 2013 season. Remember GM Sandy Alderson’s quip about “What Outfield?” Maybe he should skip the jokes and go back to –err what is his job again?
Sarcasm aside, I will give credit where it is due: the trade Alderson made with Toronto for Dickey, Josh Thole and my 2012 “favorite” Mike Nickeas, was much better than the one I proposed and proved that the front office can make trades. Getting two of the Blue Jays’ top prospects could eventually prove to be a great return. Still, my deal (Gose and Arencibia for Dickey) would have patched three and maybe four holes in the 2013 lineup: center field, catcher, leadoff hitter and another right handed power hitter.
Instead, I do anticipate that the Colin Cowgill trade and the Andrew Brown signings will represent all the team’s offseason attempts to address the right handed situation. No re-signing of Scott Hairston, which makes their unwillingness to move him last July even more maddening. For at least the beginning of the season, John Buck, with his 2012 slash line of 192/297/347 and his .991 fielding average are the answer behind the plate. Those numbers are better than what his projected backup Anthony Recker, did last year, but Recker is from my native hometown of Catasauqua, PA so he gets a pass.
All of this makes you look forward to 2013, no?
Speaking of which, just how bad will the Mets be in 2013? A recent ESPN piece projected the Mets to win 66 games in 2013. I wonder if even that is a stretch. This projection doesn’t take in account the paper-thin depth the club has against the inevitable injuries and the inability of many players to adjust to the pressures of playing in New York. The club (mainly thru its online mouthpiece MetsBlog) has done a good job of looking busy this offseason, but the facts are that with less than a month before Spring Training begins, the 2013 Mets will not doubt be bad, probably really bad and perhaps even historically bad, as in this being one of the worst seasons in the past 40 years of the franchise.
Two things stand in the way of an historical season. The first is the presence of the probably even more pitiful Miami Marlins in the same division, who after their massive fire sale this offseason, could actually approach the 1962 Mets (or at least the 2003 Tigers) in terms of awfulness. It is conceivable that the Mets could take 12 of 19 games against the Minnows. So, if the Mets play at a .400 clip against the rest of the competition, that equals 70 wins, still bad, but somewhat north of epic. The other “mitigating” factor could be better than expected contributions from Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Araund and some of the other young players. That would be outstanding, but could it lift them past the level of say, the 1968 team, which also had a collection of young and/or developing talent? That team won 74 games, or the same as last year’s total. The worst part of that type of outcome would be the noise coming from the tools about this being progress. There is also the chance that Alderson could engineer a trade for Justin Up…nah, let’s just stick to only those remotely possible outcomes!
So, when all is said and done, where will this team rank on the all-time roll call of bad Mets teams? Before we go further, two caveats: the first is that I will disqualify the Stengel-Westrum era from this post as I was too young to be following them then and the team was essentially starting from scratch. Also, “bad “is defined mainly by wins and losses and not disappointments like 2007 or 1988. That attended to, here are my choices for the all-time worst seasons in Met history:
1974: This season was both bad AND disappointing. The Mets had a season for the ages the year before, coming from last place in July to force a Game 7 of the World Series. Like many fans, I expected the now-fully healthy team to romp past the National League again and beat Oakland in a rematch. I was wrong. Instead of the clutch hitting they exhibited down the stretch in ’73, the club hit a collective 235 with an anemic 95 homers. Surprise 1973 twelve game winner George Stone suffered a career ending injury, while ace Tom Seaver battled nagging hurts all season en route to a tough 11-11 campaign. The front office traded Tug McGraw, the team’s soul, after the season, the first major step in the dismantling of the 1969 and 1973 miracle teams. No one knew it at the time, but it would be another 12 seasons until the Mets would again reach the post-season. Final record: 71-91
1982: This was the year it was finally supposed to get better. The Mets had assembled a three-headed offensive troika of Dave Kingman, Ellis Valentine (who cost them Jeff Reardon in a trade) and George Foster. There was talk of changing the air traffic patterns from LaGuardia due to the homers. Instead the trio managed 58 round trippers, disappointing enough, but then consider that Kingman hit 37 of them. The rotation boasted two Cy Young Award winners past and future, however neither of them (Randy Jones or Mike Scott) pitched anywhere near that form in ’82. Some seeds were sown: Doc Gooden was drafted in the first round and GM Frank Cashen had dealt fan favorite Lee Mazzilli to Texas right before the season for a pair of rookie pitchers the press dubbed “The Texas Strangers,” one of whom was right handed stud and future broadcaster Ron Darling, while the other (Walt Terrell) was dealt for Howard Johnson. Future 86ers Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman, Jessie Orosco and Doug Sisk all saw action this year. Final record: 65-97.
2003: From a 15-2 Opening Day thumping at the hands of the Cubs, to Steve Phillips being fired , to Art Howe’s “we battled” statements, to Mo Vaughn’s expanding waistline, to Tom Glavine’s reluctant presence as a Met, to the dramatic selling off of veterans in July, this season was a total disaster. Rumor has the Mets passing on getting either Robinson Cano or Adrian Gonzalez in return for failed closer Armando Benitez because they wouldn’t pick up any of Benitez’ salary. Fred Wilpon had hired Art Howe to manage the Mets the year before because Art “lit up the room.” The only thing lit up this season would be the Mets pitching staff, which gave up a hit and a half per inning and allowed over 750 runs. 40-year old David Cone started four games for them before retiring. The sole bright spot was the debut of Jose Reyes. Final record: 66-95.
1979: You could lump all of the seasons between 1977 and 1983 on this list, but 1979 stands out as a particularly horrible year. Seaver, Koosman, Matlack, McGraw, Staub, Kingman and Ryan are long gone. All of them had big years elsewhere. About all the Mets have left is the late Joan Payson’s daughter, Lorinda DeRoulet, who is now calling the shots. She thought that club could save money by washing dirty balls. (She meant baseballs, keeping them at game quality—jeez). Average game attendance was just over 9,500, so they would have needed to wash plenty of balls to cover the shortfall. The curtain came down on the DeRoulet/Grant regime after this season, a development which we can only hope is mirrored after 2013 (if not, maybe Jeff can start washing some balls). Final record: 63-99.
1993: The sequel to 1992 and The Worst Team Money Could Buy. With the highest payroll in the National League the Mets went 59-103, almost an exact reversal of 1986’s regular season record. There were plenty of embarrassing incidents along the way: Vince Coleman’s firecracker toss at young fans, Bret Saberhagen’s super soaker full of bleach, Eddie Murray’s sullenness, Anthony Young setting the all-time consecutive losses record and what seemed like half the roster’s on-going feud with the press, lead by chief thug Bobby Bonilla. Manager Jeff Torborg, and GM Al Harazin were both fired, Harazin never to work in major league baseball again. New Manager Dallas Green was a total disaster and not just on the field. Remember his comment about beating his wife after loses? The team’s slogan was “Hard Ball is Back.” Hardly. Unlike 1982, where at least some good was started, the Mets would go through yet another GM and another manager and nearly a complete roster overhaul before they would even begin to recover from this disaster. Final record: you read that already.
While I think Alderson’s veneer of respectability and the actual gravitas of David Wright and Terry Collins will keep things from sinking to 1979 or 1993 levels, 2003 and 1982 might be hearing footsteps by the end of this August for their spot on the list. What do you think? Sound off below.
Here’s what bothers me most about this season to come however. Alderson is meant to be a sabermetric guy, as is DePodesta. Every single sabermetrician will tell you saves are overrated and it’s much cheaper to find a pitcher and make him into a closer. So, with that in mind, WHY ARE THEY GIVING BRIAN WILSON PRIVATE WORKOUTS?!
I’m fine with losing as long as it has a purpose. I’m fine with trading Dickey if it has a purpose, even though to be honest I’m yet to see what that purpose is. I’m fine with blowing up the team and starting kids all year, as long as there is some genuine perception of a future with them.
What I’m not fine with is willfully disregarding core tenets of what it is the team is allegedly attempting to do. It’s like going on a diet but then refusing to take out your daily trip to McDonald’s for breakfast. What’s the point?
Arencibia is above average at one thing, home runs, likely blunted at Citi. Gose has exceptional talent but not more so than Syndergaard and has a bigger but potential despite being closer to contributing and he is no leadoff hitter despite having the wheels.
The situation we’re in blows but settling for less quicker is not the answer and it’s not Alderson’s fault there are no out fielders or catchers in the system. Sure he can give away the store, collect accolades for winning the off season but we’ve already done that a number of times and it’s all we’ve won in 25 years.
Now is the time to add the high end pieces that are likely to dominate and have them here for a long time.
From my recollection, the ’93 team was the worst. I don’t expect anything close to that in ’13. There is still plenty of time and available players to improve the ’13 team without sacrificing the future. Unlike the Englishman, I see no harm in pursuing Wilson. He can improve the pen and not block development of anyone. The can use a real closer.
I grew up fairly poor, but going to a few Mets games a year was still in the budget. Other than schools and community organizations getting free tickets from the Mets, I don’t know how kids from low-class / lower-middle class families can enter Citi Field. Further, can those families afford to pay a cable bill every month and see the games on TV? Though, there are still a few dozen games on channel 11.
Citi Field is definitely more family-friendly than Shea ever was — but, I wonder how many families can afford to enjoy that friendliness?
Agree 100%…your top sentence really sums it up. I grew up similar to you. The prices are still really high even if the team was good and the payroll $130 mil +. Unfortunately the Wilpons aren’t going anywhere, they had a great 2012 financially. I just hope the resume investing in the team at a proper level, no more $$ excuses.
The bottom line, to me, is that Bud is at the root of the Mets situation. He named the GM. Both believe in the small market approach. The Wilpons are simply happy to have allowed to remain in the game. Winning is not the primary aim.
Good, realistic post. Enjoyed the stroll thru our misery.
This season, as the team is now constituted, could be a very painful one.
I would say more but it depresses me too much.
Before last year, Kirk Nieuwenhuis was a good hitter in the minors that didn’t have enough pop to play the corner and not enough range to play center. Hopefully the bad season was attributed to injuring himself in May and trying to play through. After all, he was hitting .275 at that time. Keeping an eye on Valdespin, as he did well in winter ball and hope he is ready to grow up.
Murphy and Wright are solid hitters. Davis deserves a chance to show what player he can be, and he does have a sweet swing. Those guys rarely suck.
#5: Seeing that he is in his walk year, think Buck can produce like he did when he was in his previous walk year three years ago? Now we are reaching.
Have no faith in Duda. I expect a left handed Kingman, at best; with terrible defense. On the plus side, he hit .245ish against righthanders and lefthanders. Yippee!!
Tejada better get alot of two out hits, or Baxter will lead off more at #8 than he will at #1.
The rest will be bullet points:
– Saberhagen was using bleach? Seriously? I didn’t remember that. Joe, how strong a name can I call him without getting booted from the website?
– Applaud Alderson for dragging his feet to not sign Dickey. What is he going to do for us? Help us climb into third? Come on folks. We needed an infusion, not a mirage. Ironically, I also thought Arrencibia and Gose would be great; so did Anthopoulos, probably. LOL!
– Don’t mind one, but not both of the Cowell or that Colorado Springs phenom Brown signings. [13 players hit over Brown’s .306 on that team, five of them played regularly] Really want to see someone better.
– Couldn’t understand Alderson not trading Reyes, other than orders from Wilpon to sell tickets. Cincinnati would have given us Hamilton, he was in single A and the Reds felt they were ready to win the World Series.
– Think Alderson really regrets that joke in November about the outfield, but never fathomed not being able to get anyone better. The only move I think he slept on was not signing Pierre who was perfect for what the Mets need.
I predict 76 – 86, with being around .500 until mid August when all pretenders drop out. Wishful???
Wishful? Yeah but, without guys like you the gloom of reality would be daunting. So we’ll hear you out and not commit you——yet.
Metsblog is the Wilpon’s transparent attempt to influence your thinking. Matt (who is a terrible writer IMHO) is on a very short leash and there is an obvious push to garner clicks by the onslaught of non-stories masquerading as news. It used to be fun to read about trade rumors or possible free agent signings, when there was a chance that something could actually happen. Now, the editorial bent from that site reminds me of Kevin Bacon’s character at the end of Animal House: “relax all is well!”
Speaking of movies, maybe you saw the movie Almost Famous? There’s line by the Lester Bangs character to William Miller about being taken in by the friendship and perks from the people he is supposed to be brutally honest about. That is what has happened to Matt and the boys. I was going to expand the ball washing gag to include them, but thought better of it at the last minute.
A winning season (or two) would cure all these ills.
Back to the point, isn’t it possible that someone close to the Mets is reassured by how professional and on point the front office seems when compared to the chaos of Minaya? Also, are you just ignoring the posts that exclaim the frustration from Matt on the lack of action by Sandy? Or are you going to explain that as a clever ruse to throw people off the sent of the Metsblog propaganda machine? Hiding in plain sight, as it were. I know the types who think this way (my brother for example) and I just don’t share this viewpoint on the world. So sorry I won’t take the bait. Metsblog is a blog with a different tone than this one, that is all as far as I’m concerned.
1. I like proving a broader perspective
2. There are many, many Mets fans who share Dan’s pain and thus feel consoled they’re not the only ones feeling that way
3. Regardless of whether you agree with his opinions, Dan is a very good writer — and there aren’t enough good writers in the Mets blogosphere
Where should money be spent? If the Mets had a billion $ I wouldn’t want the FA on the market so now is the best time to sit tight and hope the roster turns into something better than expected.if not then root for the youth to develop into an exciting team to watch. This sense of entitlement because it’s NY has to stop. I’m as tired of the wilpons as anyone but they own the f’ing team and it ain’t changing. I’d like to see the Walton’s cure cancer but they are still going to run Walmart and sell crap for cheap.
The point is, I’m not going to stop being a fan and if I still lived in NY I’d go to as many games as i could afford. Even if the sky is falling. And when and if it does,I hope it falls on Dan.
We’re all “passionate” Met fans. Let’s not lose perspective, even when we disagree. And if the sky is falling we know that Lucas Duda probably wouldn’t catch it.
The Wilpons are simply being untruthful about the team and their intentions. Ownership of the team is their defining cause.
A psychological study of Fred Wilpon would be a most interesting (to me) undertaking. It would have to look at such things as the bogus creation of his son’s athletic career, his dealings with Doubleday and of course his relationship (both personal and financial) with Madoff.
Bud Seelig, in the name of loyalty, has perpetuated this
1. Outfield is better than last year by means of simple subtraction of Bay
2. Buck behind the plate with some power and his ability to call a game is better than Thole, even if Buck hits just .220.
3. If he stays healthy, Davis will challenge for the NL homefun title.
4. I am optimistic that the Gee/Niese/Harvey and Santana will improve enough to make up for the loss of the Dickey innings In fact, if healthy Gee will win 15 games. You heard it here.
1. Subtracting Bay (and Torres) was necessary. But I don’t buy the “addition by subtraction” argument since we’re left with a collection of 5th OFs and AAA guys. Not an MLB starter among the bunch (unless Duda and Niewenheiss surprise us; and I’d give them the full chance to play because might as well find out).
2. I agree, but don’t see this adding up to many added Ws.
3. We’ll see (especially since there’s no protection below him). And, while 30-40 HRs will help, he’s been a 1 dimensional hitter so far. Not really the 850-950 OPS guy you want in the cleanup spot. Happy to have him, but we’re still left with half a lineup at best.
4. I’m guardedly optimistic that Gee will come back healthy (but 15 wins on this team? remember, Dickey was lights out all year and got 20). I will be very surprised if Santana is effective; after the 134 pitch “no hitter” last year, he looked finished. Until Wheeler comes back, we look to be a starter or two short of a rotation.
Having said all that, I am hopeful that Wheeler, Niese, Harvey, Gee, the SP we got from Toronto can make us competitive in 2015. We need to grow past a decade of inept drafting and player development under the last 3 GMs (and Capn. Jeffie, the Idiot Son), as witnessed by the fact that our top three (and only top-end) minor league players came from 2 recent trades.
2. Anyone (including Thole 2013) would be better than Thole 2012. But Buck’s at the very, very low end of that.
3. I’m with Kanehl.
4. I love watching Gee pitch, but his fastball command hasn’t been that precise, and when he misses with it it gets hammered. He’s an asset, but not a difference-maker who’ll turn the team around. On a team that isn’t crushing the ball or fielding every grounder or locking down every lead, I couldn’t predict he’d win more than 9 or 10.
Santana was fine after the no-hitter, it was the sprained ankle that did him in. He tried to be a tough guy through it, and in classic Mets tradition, no one noticed or intervened when it utterly screwed him up. His motion looked different, and I assume he hurt his arm pretty badly throwing like that, or he would never have been shut down with so little fuss. It’s 2006-2008 Pedro all over again. I expect that his days as an effective pitcher are done.
There is no way we’re replacing 233 Cy-caliber innings. NO WAY.
As for our last 10 drafts, at the time, some have looked good, others bad, overall about average. It’s afterward that things really start to slip, with a really awful rate of converting minor leaguers into useful major leaguers. I suspect a minor league overhaul is in order, but few teams ever do that.
Also agree on Gee. He’s been a pleasant surprise, but his stuff makes him a solid 4 or 5 starter. Good quality for that spot, certainly way better than the scrap heap remainders like Chris Short we’ve recently had, but not a 15 game winner.
If Duda and Murphy (who backslid from a line drive doubles hitter to a sla singles guy) come back to strength, we may have a decent 5 hitter lineup. But that’s about it, and the rotation is really thin, at least until they bring Wheeler up.
I heard someone on the radio say, “even if the Mets signed Josh Hamilton, their outfield still would be a disaster.” That’s pretty much true.
2) I never have high hopes for players coming off of injuries, but at least Gee’s isn’t pitching related. Santana will either not pitch well or pitch well and be traded. Either way, we can’t expect much from him.
3) As much as it scares me how little protection Wright will have behind me, it bothers me more how little opportunities he will have in front of him. With Reyes, he was a 100 RBI machine. Last year, even with a good year, he missed 100 RBIs. Wright will have a huge walk total.
4) I worry about injuries to our infield. Who would play short or second?
5) Catcher spot is a wild card. Buck could bounce back in a walk year or he could hit .175. D’Arnauld could play like the highly rated prospect he is or he could struggle since he would be a rookie catcher with a lot of pressure on him. If Buck does play well he would mean more to the Mets as trading value then wins and losses.
I don’t want to make predictions now since the roster could still change, but I will be surprised if it does in any signficant way. Right now, I see another year of regression over last year.
Seriously, what will ’13 be like? The team is not noticeably different than it was except for Dickey. Dickey gave you 20 wins. Dickey wasn’t going to give you that many even if he staid. Replace Dickey with some journeyman type you might get, what, 10 wins? That would get you around 66.
That is, if nothing else changes. For instance, Santana gave you nothing much after June. Let’s say he gave you something, you know, a middling number of wins. This can give you as much as a +5. Let’s same the team didn’t totally collapse after the All Star Break. etc.
I think the team will give you about the same amount of wins, give or take, next season. Somewhere in the 70s.
By the way, the Mets WERE horrible last year. If you go back to the archives of this blog when they had winning records, from ’06 to ’08, you’ll notice that the tone here was somewhat different.
Don’t shoot the messenger. The attitude on this blog mirrors reality. You know where to find the pom-poms and Kool-Aid.