As a fan, although I am not giving up on 2012 because I think there are a lot of potential bright spots, I'm inclined to take management at their word that the team will not be in a position of serious contention for another two years. With that in mind, I've decided to piece together a 'status update' of sorts on how the 2014 roster is shaking out.
I'm going to stick to players currently in the system, keep a running tab on how they're doing and how the system needs are materializing going forward. I'll update it from time to time, but certainly when there is player movement that warrants a change in perspective regarding the future Met roster. I've decided to focus on the Core 13 - Everyday Lineup and Starter Rotation - as opposed to a full 25-man roster, which would include the bench and bullpen. Both are in flux from year to year and it would be silly to try and pin down the support players two seasons from now.
I've listed the players likely to start and added an "In the Mix" section below that for players who profile as potential major league players. As time goes on, players will likely cycle themselves in and out of the mix. Some players, such as Jordany Valdespin, Matt Den Dekker, Jennry Mejia and Jeurys Familia, might wind up in the Core 13 instead of the players I have listed right now. As of now, I see the Core 13 as being:
CA - ???
1B - Ike Davis
2B - Reese Havens
SS - Ruben Tejada
3B - David Wright
OF - Kirk Nieuwenhuis
OF - ???
OF - ???
SP1 - ???
SP2 - ???
SP3 - Matt Harvey
SP4 - Jon Niese
SP5 - Zack Wheeler (R)
IN THE MIX
C - Josh Thole
IF - Lucas Duda, Jordany Valdespin, Aderlin Rodriguez
OF - Matt Den Dekker, Gilbert Gomez, Cesar Puello, Cory Vaughn, Juan Lagares
P - Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Dillon Gee, Darin Gorski, Erik Goeddel, Greg Peavey, Logan Verrett, Cory Mazzoni, Tyler Pill, Pedro Beato
-I've left Lucas Duda out of the Core 13 for now, as I am skeptical of his ability to handle the defensive duties in the OF over a 162-game season. I have him in the mix as a first baseman, as I feel that that is his long-term destiny and that he may emerge as an alternative to Davis. For now I'm giving the edge to Ike, but I feel that the future roster will include one or the other. Of course, this can change over time if Duda proves himself a competent outfielder.
- Although I don't think Josh Thole is a long-term option at catcher I have him in the mix, as I think there is still room for improvement and he may surprise.
- I don't really expect that David Wright will be here in 2014. My feeling is that by the end of this season, the Mets will have created a hole at third base while filling one or two of the their other needs. For now, he is here and I'm projecting him to be here. There are also too many variables in trying to predict what return the Mets will get for him and what other positions could be filled in the event he is traded.
- I left recent high school draftees like Brandon Nimmo and Philip Evans off the list because I don't think they will be ready to start full-time by 2014.
- I have Harvey and Wheeler in the back of the rotation due to their inexperience. Although both pitchers have ceilings of SP1-2, I doubt either will have matured to that level by 2014. I also don't think it would be prudent for likely or the organization to put all of the their eggs in the basket of pitchers entering their second and first full major league seasons, respectively. Niese is at SP4 because I think his ceiling is SP3 and better to slot a pitcher lower than his potential in order to have an advantage every time out.
- Most of the 'In the Mix' pitchers listed (sans Mejia and Familia) profile as either back of the rotation starters or relievers. I included them because they could climb up to take SP4 or SP5 in the rotation, especially if the more highly touted players don't pan out. Also, although I'm not including a projected bullpen, it's nice to have an eye out for the pitchers who will likely fill some of those spots.
When looking at the eight players currently in-house who have a good chance being part of the Core 13, there is reason to hope for the future. As of now, that lineup could shake out with
1. ???? OF
2. Tejada SS
3. ???? OF
4. Davis 1B
5. Wright 3B
6. Havens 2B
7. ???? Ca
8. Nieuwenhuis OF
Overall, between that lineup and the three rotation spots, the payroll (excluding bullpen and bench) would likely stand somewhere around $20-$25 million with the majority of it taken up by Wright's salary. If he is traded, the total will be significantly less. That leaves the front office two years and a lot of breathing room in terms of salary to add an outfielder who can lead off, an outfielder who can hit in the middle of the order, a catcher, and two top of the rotation pitchers.