With the 2012 Mets season slipping away, it is not too early to look ahead to 2013, when I predict major changes will be made.
I think only half the regulars are assured spots next season. Ike Davis, Ruben Tejeda and David Wright (who will sign a long-term deal in the off season) will be back. It looks like there will be a catching platoon of Josh Thole and Kelly Shoppach.
One of the Mets problems on offense this season is that they are too heavily left handed. I think the Mets will only have three left handed regulars (not counting Thole). Davis will be one of them, leaving spots open for two others. Daniel Murphy, Jordany Valdespin, Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are all lefties. There is not room for all of them.
I think Murphy or Valdespin will end up at second, with the other one being traded. Murphy has far more value and is playing out of position at second, so I believe it will be him who goes.
In the outfield, I suspect that Duda will be traded. His best position is clearly first base, and he has a month and a half to improve his trade value. I can see Nieuwenhuis as the starting centerfielder in 2013, unless the Mets keep both Valdespin and Murphy in which case Valdespin plays in the outfield. In that scenario Nieuwenhuis is traded or is a backup.
So that leaves two outfield positions open. I think the Mets will bring in two new right handed hitting outfielders, one of them with power. I don’t know who these men will be, but Murphy, Duda and perhaps Jenrry Mejia or Jeurys Familia could be traded to bring the new players in.
As far as pitching, the rotation will look very similar. The Mets would love to trade Johan Santana, but unless he can turn things around this season, he is virtually untradeable. So he will likely lead the staff, followed by R.A. Dickey, Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. Coming off injury, it would be difficult to trade Dillon Gee, and the Mets would be smart to hold onto him as a long reliever just in case a starter fails or gets injured (the latter very likely, as we well know).
The bullpen once again needs a near complete renovation. Frank Francisco is signed for next season, so he’ll be back. So will Bobby Parnell, unless another team falls in love with his potential and makes the Mets an offer. Gee should start the season in the pen, and it looks like Josh Edgin is earning a place. Despite pitching well lately, Jon Rauch will not be back, nor will Ramon Ramirez — they would both command for more money than they are worth. Look for at least three new faces in the bullpen in 2013.
After getting a pass the past two off seasons, we will finally see if Sandy Alderson is up to the task of rebuilding a ballclub. So far he really hasn’t proven that he is. Alderson cannot stand pat once again; the team and its fans deserve more of an effort than that from their general manager.