The New York Mets had high expectations for Matt Harvey for this year. Jeremy Hefner was to fill out the rotation in Las Vegas, and be called up if something went wrong, like we knew it would, in Flushing.
Hefner’s break came with the expected breakdown of Johan Santana. He made the Opening Day roster, was hammered early, but eventually has become one of the Mets’ most effective pitchers with a 1.80 ERA in June. That was even better than Harvey.
HEFNER: Proving his value every fifth day. (AP)
A successful season for the Mets would be defined as .500, and the rest of the season should be about who will be around in 2014.
Hefner is one, as are five other players in last night’s lineup who weren’t on the Mets’ Opening Day roster: Eric Young, Josh Satin, Omar Quintanilla, Anthony Recker and Andrew Brown. There are others, too, including: Zack Wheeler, David Aardsma, Carlos Torres and Juan Lagares.
That’s eight players out of 25, roughly a third of their roster who were afterthoughts in April now on their radar. That’s a combination of making the wrong decisions coming out of spring training and having some organizational depth.
Perhaps all won’t be on the 2014 Opening Day roster, but it’s a starting point for next year, which is the essence of this summer.
A lack of run support has Hefner at 3-6, but his ERA of 3.54 is telling us a different story. With Jon Niese out, and Dillon Gee and Shaun Marcum hurting, Hefner is the No. 2 starter, one who’ll be sought out by contenders and someone the Mets would be foolish to deal.
In constructing next year’s rotation, factor in Wheeler and Hefner, and discard Marcum. Should Niese require rotator cuff surgery, which we could know this week, there will be a need to add.
After going through nine other players, the Mets seen to have found their leadoff hitter in Young, who can play the outfield and second base.
Lagares is being given every opportunity to win the center field job, which accounts for two of the outfield positions. Marlon Byrd, you figure, will either be traded or too expensive to re-sign in the off-season. If it’s the latter, that could turn into a mistake.
The Mets promised to add an outfielder, but assuming they don’t that leaves Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda competing for a spot.
Josh Satin is proving to be a viable option at first base assuming Ike Davis is either traded or leaves as a free agent. The Mets are using this month to ascertain Davis’ trade value. If they don’t deal him, there’s a good chance he won’t be tendered a contract and leaves as a free agent.
Terry Collins said Ruben Tejada must beat out Quintanilla to re-take the shortstop job. Assuming he doesn’t, Quintanilla has shown the Mets they won’t have to shop at that position.
I look at Brown as bench depth, and the same for the loser of the Quintanilla-Tejada competition.
The only other positions in question are catcher and the bullpen. The latter has recently been good, but overall is inconsistent. Torres should get a chance to compete for a job, but I don’t see LaTroy Hawkins coming back. He and Brandon Lyon can be swapped out. The same goes to Scott Rice if the Mets don’t burn him out.
Recker started last night and homered and singled, which should get him more playing time since the Mets have burned out John Buck. Travis d’Arnaud is now considered a September call-up, which might not be enough time to learn about him. So, somewhere Buck and Recker must be in the Mets’ 2014 plans somewhere.
Rarely does a season begin and end with the same roster, and the Mets are no exception. However, what they have now can morph into the foundation for next year’s roster.
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