The New York Mets have now been officially, mathematically eliminated from playoff consideration in the 2013 season, so it's time to pay our respects to the season that was and give a quick glance ahead to what lies ahead.
What went right
Actually, for a team that is 64-80 heading into Thursday, a decent amount of things went right. Matt Harvey emerged as a legitimate ace before injury, David Wright played at MVP level before injury, Marlon Byrd had a huge season before trade, Bobby Parnell emerged as a solid closer before injury, Juan Lagares appears to be a viable starter moving forward in the outfield and Ike Davis has been an on-base machine since returning from the minors.
Zack Wheeler has also shown promise during his rookie campaign and looks capable of joining Harvey atop the Mets' future rotation. Keep in mind Wheeler has a 2.44 ERA in his last seven starts and he allowed two earned runs or less in 11 of his 16 starts. We should also mention Josh Satin performing well with the stick in his limited time.
What went wrong
Well, first of all, how many times did I type "before injury" above? That's a start. The Shaun Marcum signing turned out a disaster (1-10, 5.29 ERA before injury). Speaking of disasters, before his demotion, Davis was hitting .161/.242/.258 before he was demoted to the minors. What is it with him and the horrifying, extended starts to seasons in the past two years? There was also the Johan Santana shoulder surgery (again), which ended his season before it began.
Finally, the general lack of talent for a roster on a large-market team was obviously a major part of the problem.
MVP: Harvey. Wright's a fine choice every year, but Harvey is the one who brought the most excitement to the Mets this season -- especially in terms of exceeding expectations and adding excitement for the future. I think we can include starting the All-Star Game in Citi Field here as well.
LVP: I'm going with Davis because a big reason the Mets had such a poor start was that they were counting on him producing from the middle of the order and he was probably baseball's worst offensive player until he was mercifully sent down. His on-base abilities since being recalled are nice, but they're also too little, too late as far as 2013 is concerned.
Free agents to be: SP Aaron Harang, SP Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP Johan Santana (he'll surely be bought out of his club option, that is), RP Frank Francisco, RP LaTroy Hawkins, RP Tim Byrdak, RP Pedro Feliciano, RP David Aardsma. Also of note: Jason Bay's albatross deal comes off the books.
Gameplan heading into the offseason
My colleague Jon Heyman covered this at great length Wednesday, actually. Basically, the Mets would like to fill holes at shortstop and the corner outfield positions. They also could have a lot of money to spend, but are seemingly reluctant to go large on one or even two players. They even mentioned the Red Sox plan of adding multiple pieces in cheaper and shorter deals like the Red Sox did last offseason.
My guess is the Mets don't go so much for 2014 as they do beyond. Harvey has the elbow injury to deal with -- and possibly Tommy John surgery -- but that's not the only issue. The Mets need to see growth from catcher Travis d'Arnaud next season in addition to seeing how well pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard (6-1, 3.00 ERA in 11 Double-A starts this year) progresses. And, of course, Ike Davis' season next year could provide more clarity for the future as well as how well Wheeler rounds out.
So as much as it might be painful, the offseason should be about setting up 2015 instead of 2014.
It will be interesting, though, because the Mets have money and some good pieces in place.
Ridiculously premature prediction for 2014
Harvey will be forced to undergo Tommy John surgery at some point and will make zero starts during the 2014 season. Wheeler, however, rounds into ace form and the Mets eye 2015 with a pair of young aces.