There hasn’t been much to get excited about in Queens over the past five or six seasons—unless you get joy out of watching the franchise greats take the field day in and day out. Of course, there was also the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner who captured the hearts and minds of those paying attention—though he was traded a couple of months after receiving the hardware. And then, when there is an exciting young attraction worth watching, of course he ends up undergoing Tommy John surgery before the end of his breakout season. However, the roster has been improved through trades and free agency, adding a little extra fantasy relevance to what has been a pretty stale roster in the recent past. Though, as you’ll see from the rest of this preview, high-end talent is still severely lacking.
- LF Eric Young Jr.
- 2B Daniel Murphy
- 3B David Wright
- RF Curtis Granderson
- CF Chris Young
- 1B Ike Davis
- C Travis d’Arnaud
- SS Ruben Tejada
Maybe Terry Collins owns Eric Young Jr. on all of his fantasy teams. That’s probably the only answer that makes keeping Juan Lagares in Triple-A to start the season (as is being rumored) palatable from a team perspective. Of course, he can steal bases, so there’s that. Chris Young and Curtis Granderson will both try to bounce back from very disappointing 2013 seasons, and as long as you go in knowing that their batting averages will give you stomach ulcers, they should be solid additions to any fantasy team. Granderson may not have Yankee Stadium power, but Citi Field plays neutral and he wasn’t a short-porch creation. Ruben Tejada has a bigger hole to climb out of for fantasy relevance than Bruce Wayne in The Pit. Murphy should be solid, but don’t expect a repeat of 2013. David Wright is a near-perfect human being whose smile has more healing powers than penicillin. More about the others below.
The Mets could have a much more interesting bench if they were to carry all of the players who will likely start the year in Triple-A, but alas we’ll all likely have to wait to see their faces. Lucas Duda could provide some real value, even in mixed leagues, if he were to get playing time over Davis, but that’s unlikely unless there’s a trade of some sort. Satin remains a solid NL-only play, as there’s little to no chance that the Mets would let either Davis or Duda play against left-handers—and Satin hits them well, to the tune of a career .315/.394/.467 line. Not much else to see here, unless you enjoy staring into Anthony Recker’s eyes like Ben Lindbergh does.
This rotation has actually turned into a relatively nice source of fantasy goodness. Colon, Niese, and Gee should all maintain some non-sexy value in mixed leagues—in addition to holding strong value in NL-only formats. Wheeler and Mejia are the guys with the upside, though one is clearly a better bet to stay healthy than the other. Mejia went a long way (well, at least as long as 27 innings can go) to reminding all of us about why he was so highly touted in the minors (he was a two-time top-50 prospect here at Baseball Prospectus).
Parnell’s relative obscurity and neck injury prevented a lot of fantasy owners from noticing his continued improvement in 2013. He’s been vocal about exchanging velocity for poor contact, and while it may ding his upside slightly (he’s no longer a strikeout-per-inning or higher guy), it makes him much more likely to keep the job. Behind him are a couple of interesting options, but if Parnell is hurt or struggles, I’d expect the Mets to go with Farnsworth in the role—even though Black may be the better option. Of course, that’s if Farnsworth looks reasonably competent, which is no sure bet. Edgin is the darkhorse, as he is not a strict LOOGY and could do well in the role if given the opportunity.
Center Field/Left Field: Eric Young Jr. vs. Juan Lagares
It may behoove fantasy owners for Eric Young Jr. to win the left field job—pushing Chris Young into center—but it would be a big mistake for the Mets if they’re looking to win games. Lagares provides potentially elite defense and has more upside with the bat than he showed in his 2013 debut. If he were to get the job, he could hit for a decent average with the potential for low double digits in homers and steals over the course of a full season. Young has the stolen-base ability, as we all know, but he offers little else, as he’s not going to hit for average or have any pop.
First Base: Ike Davis vs. Lucas Duda and the Front Office
This isn’t a true battle as it would be very surprising if Davis doesn’t have the job to start the season; however, this doesn’t stem from the team’s confidence in him. It’s no secret that the Mets have been shopping Davis to any team that owns four bases, but with his value not quite up to their standard, they will continue to run him out there until the rest of his trade value disintegrates or he hits himself onto another team. In the meantime, Duda will become a very strong first bat off the bench, though if you think he’ll see time in the outfield, you’ve likely never seen him out there before.
Player to Target: Zack Wheeler
It can’t be all that fun to be the starting pitching prospect who just happens to be the next guy after Matt Harvey, but Wheeler is up to the challenge. In fact, many in Queens are already anticipating the NEXT great pitching prospect, in the form of Noah Syndergaard, who will likely start the season in Triple-A. Despite battling some occasional control issues, Wheeler still had an ERA of 3.46 and 84 strikeouts in 100 innings. There were times in that stretch where he flashed the necessary control to take the next step, and he has the upside to be a top-25 starter this coming season. And importantly, after throwing nearly 170 innings in 2013 between the majors and minors, he should be free to throw 200 this coming season.
Player to Avoid: Travis d’Arnaud
Catching prospects are fickle creatures and d’Arnaud’s red flags don’t end there. The biggest one is the injury risk—and d’Arnaud has that in spades. He’s played in only 124 games over the past two seasons and expecting him to carry the load behind the plate for the Mets this year is likely asking a bit too much. If you’re drafting him expecting more than 100 games, you may want to rethink those expectations. Secondly, he’s been the beneficiary (or victim, depending on how you look at it) of playing in hitters’ parks nearly his whole minor league career. This may be overrating his ability as a pure hitter, which is not his strongest attribute. I still believe d’Arnaud will blossom into a good long-term catcher, but those things combined with the standard struggles most catchers endure when they first reach the majors will keep me from targeting him in redraft leagues this year.
Deep Sleepers: All of the Prospects
With a whole slew of players likely to start the year in Triple-A for the Mets who could have fantasy impact during the season (don’t think the Wilpons’ financial state has nothing to do with this one), let’s just do quick blurbs about three players who can help your team starting somewhere between Memorial Day and the All-Star break.
Rafael Montero will likely be the first call up if there’s a need in the rotation, and with the injury histories of Bartolo Colon and Jenrry Mejia, that could come in the next six hours or so. He doesn’t have crazy upside, but is one of the top 101 Fantasy Prospects in baseball.
Noah Syndergaard we all know and love, but he’ll likely be up in a similar timeframe to Harvey and Wheeler the last two seasons. Expect to see him in July and don’t be surprised if he’s pretty good right away.
Wilmer Flores has some upside with the bat, both in the average and power departments, but as of right now, he doesn’t have a position. And the fact that they’re going to get him some work at shortstop (which he can’t play) should say everything you need to know about Ruben Tejada. If Murphy or Wright get hurt, jump on this train.