Baseball is better when New York is thriving, and that includes the New York Mets. If all goes according to plan, the Mets will indeed be thriving and competing for the NL East division title in 2023. Steve Cohen has sent a clear message — money will not be an issue while this team is in its competitive window to win a World Series. With the payroll set at a record-breaking $355 million, the expectations are high for the club as they look to improve from their disappointing playoff performance in 2022.
The team is headlined by two new additions to the rotation in Justin Verlander and Kodai Senga. The lineup is pretty much the same as last year with the potential to see an improvement if Brett Baty continues to develop offensively and secure the team’s third base role out of the spring. That said, the lineup is still very good, and the projections show that. Here is a quick rundown of the team:
New York Mets
2022 record: 101-61 (2nd, NL East; lost in NLWCS)
2023 FanGraphs projection: 91-71 (2nd, NL East; 1st Wild Card)
Not winning the division in 2022 cost the team some room for error in the playoffs. One of the main advantages of building an elite rotation is you have the pitching depth that other teams do not. In a longer playoff series, that matters. While I think Jacob deGrom is unquestionably the best pitcher in baseball when healthy, there is an argument to be made that having Justin Verlander raises the floor of the team, and as a result their regular season win potential.
The same goes for adding Kodai Senga. Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker were both solid pitchers, but Senga has repertoire and age on his side. I’m excited to see what he can do in the big leagues behind two elite starters in Verlander and Max Scherzer. Lastly, there is José Quintana, who is on the shelf for unknown time due to a stress fracture in one of his ribs. When he comes back, he will probably be the very best fifth starter in baseball. Realistically, this team has a strong argument to be the best in the National League.
Since we’re on the topic of raising the team’s floor, I’ll bring up the addition of Tommy Pham to the team’s depth. He is a great option for a fourth outfielder to support Mark Canha and Starling Marte. Marte is pretty susceptible to the injury bug, and at some point, it’s safe to assume Pham will be in a full-time role. Better him than a random Triple-A player or a prospect who isn’t quite ready. Tim Locastro is another depth option that was formidable for the Yankees, but again, he’s not somebody you can confidently pencil into a lineup everyday like you could with Pham.
If there is anything to nitpick with this team, it’s that the offense could use another legit star. With five top end hitters in Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte, and Jeff McNeil, the offense is among the best in the league. However, a hitter like Carlos Correa would have put them over the top, and probably above the Atlanta Braves. As we approach the deadline, I expect them to be aggressive if a star hitter becomes available. Depending on the developments of Baty and Ronny Mauricio, they could have a legit package to offer any club.
The last point I’ll make with this squad is on the importance of Francisco Álvarez. While the acquisition of Omar Narváez gives them some wiggle room, they have a lot riding on their young catching prospect. Their catching pipeline isn’t deep and it’s incredibly difficult to acquire an above-average catcher nowadays, or any day for that matter. Álvarez seems like he could be an explosive player on offense, but with a rotation and bullpen of pitchers with wicked moving pitches, he will be challenged as soon as he reaches the bigs.
The fear here is that the inevitable difficulty he will have catching will take away from the bat. That’s why, in my opinion, they should take as much time as they need with him in the minors in the first half of the season. When he comes up, he will be a luxury if he can continue to hit. As long as he is a serviceable catcher, they can add a potential All-Star caliber player midway through the year.
In a perfect world, the Yankees and Mets will match up in the World Series and we will get a repeat of 2000. While I wouldn’t bet on it, both teams have a damn good chance of making it and will be aggressive in getting there. Fingers crossed we get another legendary Subway Series!
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