In 2006 the New York Mets were within one game from a trip to the World Series before the eventual champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, beat them in seven games in the NLCS. Since then, the Mets have been close (see 2007 and 2008) but have yet to make it back to the postseason.
Going into the 2013 season, the franchise needs to address a couple of issues if they wish to have a more productive season and compete for a World Series Championship. The first step will be retaining the organizations two most valuable players.
David Wright, the franchise’s marquee third baseman, is currently awaiting a long-term offer from the Mets organization. Wright’s current contract ended at the end of the 2012 season, but the Mets have a club option to sign Wright to a 1-year, $16 million contract for the 2013 season. Wright was the team leader in numerous offensive categories including hits, runs, batting average, RBIs and OPS. He is the face of the franchise, and failing to re-sign the six-time All Star would be a tremendous blow to the organization and their fans.
Another integral player the Mets must bring back is starting pitcher R.A. Dickey. Dickey’s contract ended with the 2012 season but also has a club option (at $5 million) for the 2013 season. Dickey has been the only reliable pitcher in the Mets’ starting rotation all season. The knuckleballer broke out this past season, coming up with an impressive 20-win season and is clearly a major contender for the 2012 NL Cy Young Award.
New York still needs to address their starting rotation this winter though. The team was plagued with injuries and inconsistencies at the pitching position all year. Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey both had season-ending injuries, which left the starting rotation bleak.
One possible solution is signing free agent Zack Greinke to a major contract to solidify the Mets’ rotation. But New York has several promising prospects at the pitcher position, and it’s unlikely that the organization would spend top dollar to lure Greinke to Citi Field. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are young, talented pitchers that have been playing in their farm system. If the two of them can elevate their game quickly, they would be nice, inexpensive additions to the starting rotation.
Terry Collins’ team needs to become more consistent at the plate as well. Despite Wright’s phenomenal performance, the team ranked in the bottom half of the league in all offensive categories this past season. Young players, like first baseman Ike Davis and second baseman Daniel Murphy, will need to elevate their offensive roles on the team going forward if the Mets hope to post larger numbers next season.
Highly-paid former free agent Jason Bay spent the majority of his time on the bench during the 2012 season. Injuries and inconsistent play have marred his three-year stay with the Mets thus far, and he hasn’t been able to provide the organization with the offensive firepower he was able to bring to the field in Pittsburg or Boston. Rather than letting the situation become a distraction, the organization should look for potential trade partners.
The Arizona Diamondback’s Justin Upton is believed to be on the trading block. Though very unlikely, as the Mets surely would have to sweeten the deal with prospects and eat a fair amount of money, the blockbuster Red Sox/Dodgers trade shows any swap is possible in this league. Not only would Upton help bring more offense to the team, he would help solidify the outfield as well.
Within the last few years the NL East has became an incredibly competitive division in baseball. Each year, every team in the division gets better, and it’s time for the Mets to begin making drastic improvements if they hope to not only compete in their division, but also make the playoffs in the future.
Chris Hunt is a sports writer that resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.