This is really an odd team. Unique. Irregular.
For one thing, it's almost impossible to say who makes the big decisions for the Mets. Is it a Wilpon? Is it a bank? No idea. Good luck trying to figure out this team's true payroll, because the Mets are still paying everyone who ever put on the uniform. Bobby Bonilla is still getting checks from the Mets, as is Bret Saberhagen. And Jason Bay is still getting paid. Johan Santana's deal included a pile of deferred money, too, so he's not really off the books. If you told me this team still owed $18.5 million to Nino Espinosa in deferred compensation, I might believe you.
I don't really understand the inner workings of the Mets, is what I'm saying. Because this is really an odd team. Thankfully, all we really have to do around here is assign value to a few individual players and answer a few pressing questions. Seems doable. Let's get to work...
[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]
A: Well, there are your projected starters over on the right -->
After his season of defensive wizardry (beautifully detailed right here) it's hard to imagine that Juan Lagares won't remain in center. He's a gift to Mets pitchers (21.5 UZR, 15 assists). But it's also a little tough to imagine Eric Young Jr. heading back to the bench after leading the N.L. in steals (46). So perhaps we'll see Lagares, EY and CY essentially share two outfield positions. If Lagares can hold his own at the plate, he really needs to play. I mean ... look at this throw. And this one. And this catch. That kid is ridiculous.
Granderson signed a four-year, $60 million deal with New York, so he's the one guy in this outfield who's clearly locked into an everyday role. He's entering his age-33 season and transitioning to a less friendly home park, so you can't reasonably expect more than, say, 24-30 homers and 10-15 steals, with a sub-.260 average. We should note that Granderson's power surge in 2011 and 2012 was not purely a Yankee Stadium phenomenon; during those seasons, he hit 37 of his 84 homers on the road. If he's healthy-ish in 2014, he'll be useful in the power cat's.
Chris Young inked a one-year, low-risk deal with the Mets, so the team isn't exactly all-in with him. If he's no better than he was last season (.200/.280/.379, 0.5 WAR), then he probably shouldn't play. Young has a few 20/20 seasons on his resume, sure, but he's also a 30-year-old with a career slash of .235/.315/.431. I suppose he's an acceptable end-of-draft deep league flier, if you're punting AVG — and he may not be the only Met who fits that description.
Q: You're referring to Ike Davis, aren't you?
Q: So what's the forecast for Ike? Does he still have a job?
A: That's not actually settled, as of this writing. Davis is coming off a brutal season: . 205/.326/.334, 9 HR, 26.8 K%, 377 PAs. He's completely off the radar in standard mixed leagues, given the level of production we expect from our corner infielders. I certainly can't build a strong case to own him in shallow leagues, even though he's just a year removed from a 32-homer campaign. Mets manager Terry Collins has suggested that the competition is "wide open" for opening day duties at first. Lucas Duda is in the mix along with Davis, and — should both players have horrible springs — it's even possible that Daniel Murphy could slide to first, with EY Jr. playing second.
So yeah, it's an unsettled situation. Fluid. And bad.
Q: But we know who the catcher is gonna be, right? It's Travis d'Arnaud, yes?
A: Yeah, he's the guy. Injuries have been an issue for the 25-year-old d'Arnaud — that's the nature of his position — but the kid has decent pop, and he was an excellent hitter in the high minors (career .328/.402/.588 at Triple-A). He's clearly the catcher of the future for New York, and it's not tough to imagine a 15-homer, .270-ish season ahead. I wouldn't draft him in a standard 12-team, one-catcher league, but he should be rostered in almost any deeper format. Long-term, he's not likely to sniff the top-tier at his position, but it would be a surprise if he didn't eventually emerge as an ownable fantasy commodity.
Q: No chance we'll see Matt Harvey this year, correct?
A: Correct. Harvey had Tommy John surgery on October 22 and hasn't suffered any reported setbacks. Expect him to begin throwing relatively soon, but his ETA is next spring, not this one.
Even without Harvey, the Mets' rotation should be OK. Remember, this team gave Bartolo Colon a two-year deal this winter, plus they'll get a full season from Zack Wheeler. Last year, the 23-year-old Wheeler held his own over 100.0 major league innings, striking out 84 batters and posting acceptable ratios (1.36 WHIP, 3.42 ERA, 4.21 xFIP). He wasn't spectacular, but he was certainly tolerable. If his command improves a bit, he'll get interesting. For now ... well, you'll probably have to pay a New York tax on Wheeler at the draft table, plus a next-big-thing tax. So maybe the price won't be great. But if he's available in the end-game, get him.
Hard-throwing prospect Noah Syndergaard should make his big league debut at some point in 2014, assuming he doesn't stumble in the high minors. Syndergaard has a power arm, a quality curve and solid control, and he impressed after making the jump to Double-A last season (6-1, 3.00 ERA, 54.0 IP, 69 Ks, 12 BB). He's a dynasty target, no doubt.
Q: OK, final question: Who's closing for the Mets?
A: For now, it appears the job still belongs to Bobby Parnell. The Mets reportedly flirted with Fernando Rodney, but he ultimately landed in Seattle. Parnell is coming off surgery to repair a herniated disk, but he expects to be ready for the opener. He saved 22 games last season and posted useful ratios (2.16, 1.00), and generally has the look of a respectable bargain closer. If you don't like to spend big on saves, keep Parnell in your plans.