Image: Jeff Chiu / AP
2022 Record: 101-61 (.623 win%, 2nd in Division)
2023 Payroll: $335,993,332 (1st)
2023 Projected Lineup:
1. CF Brandon Nimmo, .269 AVG/.368 OBP/.427 SLG, 4.6 fWAR
2. RF Starling Marte, .267 AVG/.324 OBP/.420 SLG, 2.7 fWAR
3. SS Francisco Lindor, .251 AVG/.323 OBP/.430 SLG, 4.7 fWAR
4. 1B Pete Alonso, .261 AVG/.347 OBP/.514 SLG, 4.1 fWAR
5. 2B Jeff McNeil, .291 AVG/.349 OBP/.421 SLG, 3.5 fWAR
6. DH Daniel Vogelbach, .227 AVG/.349 OBP/.407 SLG, 0.9 fWAR
7. LF Mark Canha, .242 AVG/.345 OBP/.390 SLG, 1.9 fWAR
8. 3B Eduardo Escobar, .238 AVG/.295 OBP/.409 SLG, 1.2 fWAR
9. C Omar Narváez, .239 AVG/.317 OBP/.355 SLG, 1.9 fWAR
10. UTL Luis Guillorme , .264 AVG/.347 OBP/.354 SLG, 1.2 fWAR
2023 Projected Starting Rotation:
1. Max Scherzer, 191.0 IP/3.32 ERA/1.05 WHIP, 4.3 fWAR
2. Justin Verlander, 180.0 IP/3.36 ERA/1.06 WHIP, 4.0 fWAR
3. Kodai Senga, 157.0 IP/3.76 ERA/1.27 WHIP, 2.3 fWAR
4. Carlos Carrasco, 152.0 IP/3.95 ERA/1.26 WHIP, 1.7 fWAR
5. David Peterson, 111.0 IP/3.37 ERA/1.26 WHIP, 1.5 fWAR
2023 Projected Top 4 Relievers:
1. CL David Robertson, 62.0 IP/3.62 ERA/1.29 WHIP, 0.3 fWAR
2. Adam Ottavino, 64.0 IP/3.66 ERA/1.25 WHIP, 0.4 fWAR
3. Brooks Raley, 62.0 IP/3.59 ERA/1.23 WHIP, 0.2 fWAR
4. Drew Smith, 59.0 IP/3.90 ERA/1.26 WHIP, 0.2 fWAR
What Does Baseball Mean to New York City?
New York City cares about one thing, and one thing only: winning it all. New Yorkers do not care how many home runs you hit, they do not care about how many strikeouts are thrown, and they do not care how many games you win in the regular season.
The only thing a New York baseball fan is concerned about is having a World Series trophy when it is all said and done. If there is no ticker-tape parade along the Canyon of Heroes going down Broadway, then no one will be happy.
Playing baseball in New York City has to be one of the toughest environments to play in. People have thought that this standard of “All or Nothing” is only applicable to the Yankees, but Steve Cohen’s presence as the owner of the Mets has changed everything. As mentioned before, the Mets have the #1 payroll in MLB.
Over the years, the Mets brung guys in like Francisco Lindor, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and the list goes on. There are zero excuses now. This absurd payroll and the fact that the Mets play in New York City bring tremendous amounts of pressure for the Mets to bring home a World Series Championship.
As mentioned before, the Mets had an incredible regular season winning 101 games. Winning 100 plus games in the regular season would be a huge accomplishment for the majority of MLB organizations, but to the Mets fans it does not matter at all because they failed to succeed in the postseason.
New York is just never satisfied.
2022 Offseason Recap:
Ace Out, Ace In
Unfortunately, the New York Mets lost Jacob deGrom during free agency. DeGrom signed a five-year, $185 million deal with the Texas Rangers. However, he proved to show clear signs of being unable to stay on the field throughout a whole season. In the past three years, deGrom has only started 38 games. To put this small amount of starts into perspective, in deGrom’s 2019 NL Cy Young Award winning year he started 32 games.
Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in MLB; when healthy. It is sad to see deGrom leave Queens, but this departure could be the unexpected move to help the Mets reach their ultimate goal of winning the World Series.
With deGrom leaving there was a big hole to fill, but knowing Steve Cohen, signing free agents for the New York Mets is now no problem at all. The Mets signed Justin Verlander, reigning World Series Champion and AL Cy Young Award winner, for a two year $86.6 million deal.
As a future Hall of Fame inductee, Verlander has the dominance and experience to lead the New York Mets to win a World Series. The only question that surrounds Verlander is that he is 40 years old and many are unsure if he can keep this level of production for the next few years. But the Mets certainly believe that Verlander has what it takes to help them win it all, with the evidence being that whopping $43M AAV.
The Ghost Pitch
The Mets signed Kodai Senga to a five year $75 million contract. In the Nippon Professional Baseball or NPB, Senga had a 1.94 ERA, 156 Ks, and 1.056 WHIP in 144 innings pitched for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
Senga is expected to fill the roles of being a solid mid-rotation guy to replace those like Chris Bassitt and Taijaun Walker. Senga is also known for his “ghost” forkball pitch that completely falls off the plate and makes hitters look foolish. Senga is also an early favorite for being the NL Rookie of the Year (being fourth in most Vegas sportsbooks).
A Freak Injury
Puerto Rico had just beat the Dominican Republic to advance further on in the World Baseball Classic. But what should have been a happy moment for baseball fans around the world quickly became an incredibly devastating sight.
The Puerto Rican players ran out from the dugout to celebrate with their teammates on the diamond, but out of the blue the camera pans and Edwin Díaz is on the floor in pain, grabbing his knee. The Mets had just re-signed Díaz for a five-year, $102M deal as well. Díaz had to be escorted off the field in a wheelchair as his teammates watched him in tears. Edwin Díaz is likely to miss the whole 2023 MLB season, and the Mets bullpen is certain to struggle.
The Mets will certainly miss hearing “Narco” by Timmy Trumpets and Blasterjaxx as Díaz runs out to the mound to strike out batters and close out games. Someone in the Mets bullpen has to step up to fill Díaz’s 60+ innings and 30+ saves, or else the season can take a turn for the worse.
In/Re-signs: Justin Verlander (2 years, $86M), Edwin Díaz (5 years, $102M), Kodai Senga (5 years, $75M), Brandon Nimmo (8 years, $162M), Omar Narváez (2 years, $15M), José Quintana, (2 years, $26M), Tommy Pham (1 year, $6M), David Robertson (1 year, $10M), Brooks Raley (trade), Adam Ottavino (2 years, $14.5M), and more.
Out: Jacob deGrom (TEX), Darin Ruf (cut), Chris Bassitt(TOR), Taijuan Walker(PHI), Trevor May(OAK), Seth Lugo(SD), and more.
2023 Regular Season Preview:
Steve Cohen is not spending $300M+ this year for the New York Mets to lose in the NL Wild Card again. The only expectation that exists in Queens is for the Mets to win the World Series. At first, it seemed that winning it all was somewhat possible by executing nearly perfectly in the offseason.
Without Edwin Díaz, the Mets do not have a bullpen that is talented and consistent enough to have great success in the regular season and the postseason. When looking at the names of the 2023 projected bullpen, there are solid guys, but no one there is getting you close to 30 saves. No one there is capable of having close to a 3.0 fWAR season.
Díaz is one of the key pieces of this baseball club, which is why they signed him to that reliever megadeal. This year, when there are must-win games in the regular season or tough spots in October, Edwin Díaz will not be able to save the Mets. For New York to have a successful season, David Robertson, Adam Ottavino, and the rest of the bullpen has to step up and take a bigger role to close out games.
Putting this huge bullpen problem aside, the Mets have everything they need and more to make a great run in the postseason. The Mets definitely have a top three pitching staff in MLB. Their rotation is definitely a bit top-heavy, with both aces Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. However, Kodai Senga brings a lot of up-side for the middle of the rotation. Also, with Quintana’s rib-injury, Peterson and Carrasco have to step up to bring solid performances for the end of the rotation.
The main problems are the relatively old ages of both Verlander and Scherzer, and the lack of experience for Senga, as this is his rookie season in the MLB. But having two future Hall of Fame inductees and Cy Young caliber aces with a potential star on the rise, is a recipe for dominance and great success.
With deGrom out of Queens, the questions that surround this Mets staff now is not whether they can stay on the field, but whether they can consistently produce at the highest levels to lead them to a World Series.
The offense is also packed with All Star talent. Just looking at the 2023 projected lineup for the Mets, it seems like they are due for another successful season. The Mets do not have the problem of having too many power hitters or too much of a small-ball team. Rather, the Mets lineup is a great mix of contact, speed, and power.
Jeff McNeil is an elite contact hitter, who led MLB in batting average for the 2022 season, hitting .326. Pete Alonso provides amazing power to this lineup at the clean-up spot. Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte hit for a good average and have good speed on the basepath.
But the main piece that needs to excel in order for the Mets offense to thrive this year is Francisco Lindor. Since his first year on the Mets in 2021, Lindor has significantly struggled with his average, and simply put is not the player he used to be. Francisco Lindor needs to find his former self to help the Mets win ball games this season.
Other problems that lie in the Mets offense are the third base and catcher positions. The third base and catcher positions are occupied by adequate ball players: Eduardo Escobar and Omar Narváez, but are soon to be replaced by potential star prospects: Brett Baty and Francisco Álvarez.
At catcher, Omar Narváez was a good signing this offseason. He definitely has all-star potential, but has been incredibly inconsistent and shaky throughout his career. So, it is hard to know what to expect from him this season.
The Mets hope that Narváez has a similar year to his 2021 all-star season, batting .266 AVG with 11 HRs and 49 RBIs. But if all does not go well, Francisco Álvarez can potentially fill in and make his impact on the big league stage.
So for this season, there lies lots of uncertainty and mystery concerning the production from the third base and catcher positions.
Player to Watch #1: SS, Francisco Lindor
Francisco Lindor was brought into the New York Mets organization to lead this team to victory. The Mets did not pay Lindor $34M+ a year on average for him to hit in the .250 range. He is expected to be the leader of this team. He is expected to be an All Star and MVP-caliber player.
Fangraphs projects this statline for Lindor this 2023 season: .251 AVG/.323 OBP/.430 SLG, 4.7 fWAR. But this projected production is not good enough for the Mets to win it all. New York expects more.
He had a good 2022 season to bounce back from a horrific 2021 season, but he needs to be great for the Mets to have postseason success. If he can find his former magic he had in Cleveland, Lindor has a great opportunity to put the team on his back to lead the Mets to win it all and end the 37 year drought to finally establish the Mets as the top team of New York City.
After struggling these past years, Francisco Lindor is due for a comeback season to his former All Star level of play. Lindor is most definitely capable of having an MVP caliber season. Lindor is definitely talented enough to hit a .300+ AVG, 30+ HRs, and 100+ RBIs this season.
He just needs to produce and give it his all on the diamond. He needs to prove to New York City that he is the player who will bring home a Championship and why is deserving of such a large contract.
When watching the Mets this year, be prepared for a historic season from Lindor. The Mets window to win it all is closing, and there is a “Win Now” mentality in Queens. It is really now or never, and everything seems to be in Lindor’s hands.
Player to Watch #2: 3B, Brett Baty
Ever since David Wright retired, the Mets have struggled to find an elite third baseman. Over the years, Wilmer Flores, Todd Frazier, J.D. Davis, and Johnathan Villar have started at the hot corner.
Now, Eduardo Escobar is the starter, but these all seem like band-aid fixes to delay and take a roster spot until the Mets can sign or develop a superstar or all-star potential third baseman.
Brett Baty might be the solution to all of this madness. From Baty’s scout grades in MLB he is projected to have above average contact, power, and a very strong arm. However, scouts project Baty to have below average speed and average fielding. He has thrived in the Minor Leagues, batting a .315 AVG with 19 HRs and 60 RBIs in 362 ABs.
In the Majors he had 38 ABs, with a .184 AVG, 2 HRs, and 4 RBIs. It is hard to conclude much from his MLB stats with such a small sample size. Baty has also had a great spring training season, but it seems like Baty will need a bit more time in the Minor Leagues to develop in order to be a starter over Escobar.
Baty will start the season playing in Triple-A for the Syracuse Mets, but he could be called up in the following months if Escobar consistently struggles at third base.
Player to Watch #3: DH, Daniel Vogelbach
Since his arrival in July 2022, Daniel Vogelbach has instantly become a fan favorite for all Mets fans. His massive frame and sweet and powerful lefty swing gets the crowd cheering and on their feet. This year look out for many Vogelbach Home Runs and mesmerizing trots around the bases.
Though Vogelbach is ranked in the second percentile (zero as worst, 100 as best) in sprint speed by Baseball Savant, he runs incredibly hard and intensely, and seems much faster than he is described by the statistics.
Vogelbach was featured in a commercial with Mets manager Buck Showalter to make a joke about how it will be much easier to steal because of the bigger bases this year. He has never stolen a base throughout his big league career, but maybe he can finally remove the zero from his career stat line this year. Maybe watch out for some aggressive base running from Vogelbach this year!
Position Group to Watch: The Bullpen
As mentioned before, with Edwin Díaz being injured, someone else in this Mets bullpen has to step up and fill those big shoes. Whether it is Robertson, Ottavino, or someone else, a member of the bullpen needs to take on the role of throwing more innings, being in more intense and stressful situations, and being a ball player everyone can trust when stepping on the mound in the late innings of the game.
I doubt that anyone in this Mets bullpen can come close to what Díaz can produce, but they need to all step up and do the best they can to give the Mets a shot at winning it all. The bullpen is a huge hole for the New York Mets’ organization. If it remains unsolved, the bullpen will be the reason why they could not have success this 2023 season.
Expect to see a very strong push to make a move at the trade deadline for All Star-caliber relievers.
2023 Record Prediction: 97-65 (1st in NL East)
Everything is in place for the Mets to make a World Series run except for the bullpen. With these bullpen struggles, it is hard to see them having a 100+ win season back to back years. With such elite offense and starting pitching, you just cannot count the Mets out, and they are obviously still contenders to win it all. I expect owner Steve Cohen and general manager Billy Eppler to make a blockbuster trade during the season to close that hole in the bullpen.
The Mets do play in the most competitive division in the Major League, with three top 10 teams: Mets, Braves, Phillies. However, with the new rules being put into place, the Mets will have to play every single ball club throughout the season. This means that there will be a more balanced schedule, so the Mets will not have to play the Braves or the Phillies as much.
Many say the Braves are going to win the division, and they have great reasons to believe this. They have sluggers like Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, Matt Olson, and more. And they have elite pitchers on their roster like Spencer Strider.
However, the Braves also lost Dansby Swanson and Kenley Jansen this offseason who produced at elite levels for the team last season. The Braves squad is also incredibly young and a bit injury prone.
For the Phillies, even though they just added Trea Turner, Craig Kimbrel, and more, it is just hard to picture the Phillies winning the division without Bryce Harper on the field. Harper expected to come back after the All-Star break, but a lot is still uncertain regarding his health status.
The NL East will definitely come down to the Mets and the Braves, but the Mets having both Verlander and Scherzer combined with an elite offense gives them the upper hand in the divisional race.
You gotta believe!
Categories: 2023 Season Preview, Articles, Season Analysis
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