Will New York Mets or Las Vegas 51's be better?

Mar 20, 2013 6:49 AM

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 20th of 30 team reports by GT sports editor Mark Mayer on major league baseball projections for the start of the 2013 season. Today: New York Mets. On deck: New York Yankees.)

NEW YORK METS (2012: NL East 74-88, fourth, 24 out)

Take special note Las Vegas, this is your new Triple-A affiliate. The problem for New York Mets fans is that the 51’s may be better than the major league version.

Zack Wheeler, one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, is slated to open the season at Cashman Field. The way the Mets’ luck has been going, it wouldn’t surprise to see David Wright, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda or Johan Santana here on rehab assignments from injuries.

Wright, the franchise player, injured his wrist in the World Baseball Classic, and may not be ready for Opening Day. Against the Goliaths of the NL East (Nationals, Braves, Phillies), David is far and away the Mets’ best player.

Santana, whose valuable left arm is always on high alert from ailments, is the ace on a team that hasn’t won more than 77 games since 2008. And, while still effective, he’s not the Cy Young pitcher that once was a superstar with the Minnesota Twins.

The Mets spent plenty for stars like Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay. There were some moments, but on the whole that plan laid a financial egg. Finally in 2010, management dumped GM Omar Minaya in favor of former Oakland A’s success Sandy Alderson, who in turn replaced Jerry Manuel with Terry Collins as manager.

The Mets won 79 games in 2010 then fell back to 74 last season, one which saw Santana sacrifice the season after being left in to throw  over 130 pitches in posting the first no-hitter since the Amazin’s were formed in 1962.

The 2013 Mets sadly don’t figure to reach 80 victories either. Cy Young Award winner R.J. Dickey, a great story a year ago, is now in Toronto. The outfield led by LF Duda is troubling —full of low batting averages and high error count.

Davis at first base could be a prolific player if he can just stay off the DL. The starting rotation behind Santana – Jonathan Niese, Shaun Marcum, highly touted Matt Harvey and serviceable Dillon Gee – is probably the team’s strength. Frank Francisco is shaky as the closer.

Playing in a division with Washington, Atlanta and Philadelphia, the Mets are probably relegated to another fourth place finish – only beating out the “fire sale” Marlins. Vegas projects 74½ wins, but we’re not sure if they’re talking about the Mets or the 51’s.

Oh well, at least they’re lovable. That will never change. Let’s sell out Cashman. Maybe Mr. Met will an appearance.

Projected wins (74½)

Infield: C: John Buck; 1B: Ike Davis; 2B: Daniel Murphy; 3B: David Wright; SS Ruben Tejada.

Outfield: LF: Lucas Duda; CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis; RF Mike Baxter.

Pitching: Johan Santana; Jonathon Niese, Shaun Marcum; Matt Harvey; Dillon Gee.

Closer: Frank Francisco.

Top reserves: RP Bobby Parnell; INF Justin Turner.

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].

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