These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let's hear it for New York, New York,
As Robert wrote this morning, the Mets are going through quite the transition period as an organization. Payroll is being slashed, and the Mets are presumably in full rebuild mode, as opposed to making big free agent signings in an effort to "win now."
Their farm system is decent, with John Sickels ranking them 15th in his first ever rankings of baseball farm systems, with two high-upside starting pitchers in Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler. As for the big league club, gone are Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Francisco Rodriguez, and I'm sure that they'd love to move on from Jason Bay and Johan Santana soon as well.
So what are they left with?
Best Hitter: David Wright, 3B
He missed significant time with injury for the first time in his career, when a stress fracture in his lower back forced him off of the field for two months. It was the first time he didn't make the All-Star game since 2005. Wright hit .254/.345/.427 with 14 HR, 61 RBI, and 13 SB in 102 games.
Wright seemed like he could become the best all-around hitter in the game after 2008, when he was still only 25 and averaged 29 HR, 112 RBI, and 22 SB with a .311/.394/.534 line during his first four full seasons in the majors. The opening of Citi Field in 2009 however famously seemed to sap his numbers and he has hit .284/.364/.463 during his first three seasons in the park. As Robert said earlier however, they are moving the fences in. I don't know how much this will help Wright and other hitters, but it shouldn't hurt.
I'll guesstimate a nice bounceback season for the 29-year-old (I always know his age because we were born on the same day) for a .300/.370/.500 triple, with 25 HR and 25 SB. However, Wright will probably be the talk of the trade deadline, so keep that in mind for NL-only leagues.
Best Pitcher: Johan Santana
It would be nice to not have to pick a guy that missed 2011 recovering from shoulder surgery, but the Mets don't have much else to work with.
During his time in Minnesota, Santana was one of the best pitchers of our time and I think a lot of people tend to forget how dominating he really was. Between 2004 and 2008, he averaged: 17-8, 2.82 ERA, 0 starts missed, 229 innings, 238 Ks, 52 BBs, 1.02 WHIP and he won two Cy Young awards while finishing in the top 5 all five years.
In New York he has been good, but not nearly that good, and he missed parts of 2009 and 2010 before missing all of 2011.
He's not the first ace pitcher to have shoulder issues though. Chris Carpenter famously has recovered to be a better pitcher than he was before the injuries. Erik Bedard... not so much. But there's a good chance Johan can make a recovery and perhaps a good season (though, it's said that your first year back will be rocky) isn't out of the question. I wouldn't even know where to start guessing on his numbers... but he's worth a flier.
Possible Breakout: Ike Davis, 1B
I remember there being some doubt and some polarizing opinions on Ike Davis as a prospect. Some people loved him at the plate, others thought he'd struggle to hit in the majors. He quelled many doubters as a rookie, hitting .264/.351/.440 with 19 HR, 71 RBI over 601 PA's in 2010. He seemed to be on his way to a breakout in 2011 and hit .302/.383/.543 with 7 HR and 25 RBI over 36 games until a collision with Wright forced him to roll his ankle and miss the rest of the season.
Concerns with Davis include a strikeout rate that is regularly over 20%, while he was only walking in 11.4% of his at-bats last year. The best way to overcome a high strikeout rate is by walking and hitting for power, and Davis posted a .240 ISO last year compared to a .176 ISO as a rookie. If he can maintain an ISO over .220, he should be just fine and be a worth fantasy first baseman that could drive in 100 runs.
Best Guess: .290/.365/.500, 20 HR, 100 RBI, 85 R.
Disappointment: Daniel Murphy, 2B
It's hard to not be impressed by anyone that hits .320, especially at second base, but I'm not sure how much longer Murphy can keep that up. He hit .320/.362/.448 over 423 PAs in 2011 and was aided by a .345 BABIP.
Murphy is a nice complementary player on any major league roster, but he should be a backup in fantasy even if he is hitting at the top of the lineup. He never draws a walk, so it's likely that he won't help in run scoring and he has no speed so there's no hope of stolen bases. His best attribute is making contact, but not for power, so there's not much to see here.
Rookie Watch: Matt Harvey, SP
The Mets have been famously impatient with prospects and that process may have ruined guys like Fernando Martinez or Jenrry Mejia. That shouldn't be a problem with Harvey who will be turning 23 just before the start of the season.
He was the 7th overall pick in 2010 and last season was his first in the minor leagues. He was dominant at high-A, throwing 76 innings and striking out 92 batters while walking only 24. He moved up to AA Binghamton and while he wasn't as dominating (more walks, less strikeouts) he was still pretty good, especially for his age.
The Mets are starting a youth movement and Harvey and Zach Wheeler (acquired for Carlos Beltran last year, 6th overall pick in 2009) are at the forefront of that movement. I personally like Wheeler more, but the right-handed Harvey should be up first... maybe soon enough to be worth rostering this season.
Ones I don't: Mike Pelfrey, Jason Bay
Mostly indifferent on the rest.
Congrats to the Giants.