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2012 Fantasy outlooks: New York Mets

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The Sandy Alderson regime officially closed the book on the Omar Minaya era with the deal that sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants for prospect Zack Wheeler last July, opting to cut bait rather than fish with the roster it had inherited.

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When homegrown mainstay Jose Reyes then departed via free agency this offseason, the team's next step became all too clear: Let the long and painful rebuilding process begin.

Fortunately for Fantasy owners, a bare cupboard means new opportunity for previous unknowns -- in other words, sleepers galore. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, the Mets are still wading through so many bad contracts that the new blood might have to wait.

And so, we face another year of wondering whether 33-year-old Jason Bay will ever regain his All-Star form (fat chance) and hoping that 33-year-old Johan Santana can recapture his ace stuff in his return from 2010 shoulder surgery (don't hold your breath).

But if nothing else, Fantasy owners can count on continued steps forward for the up-and-comers already in place. Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy have each toyed with Fantasy greatness and should benefit from the team's decision to move in and lower the fences at the previously oversized Citi Field. So should David Wright -- the team's lone holdover from its former days of glory. In theory, everyone should, though Ruben Tejada and Josh Thole probably lack the wallop to take advantage.

The pitching staff obviously doesn't benefit, but it's not such a highlight anyway. A return to form for Santana would obviously change that, but with shoulder injuries, you have to assume the worst. For what they lack in upside, R.A. Dickey and Jonathon Niese are at least competent, but otherwise, Fantasy owners have little choice but to count down the days until prospects Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia arrive.

Breakout ... Ike Davis, 1B

Everything was going as planned for Davis in 2011. He followed up an encouraging rookie season with a killer April, hitting .337 with five homers and a 1.014 OPS to close in on elite status at the deepest position in Fantasy. But the breakout was never complete because his season lasted only two more weeks. On May 10, he suffered the slowest-healing ankle sprain in the history of modern medicine, missing the rest of the season because of it. That's both good news and bad news in Fantasy. On the one hand, it gives you another opportunity to draft the 24-year-old at a discounted rate, but on the other hand, it makes you leery of drafting him at all. But remember: His performance isn't in question, just his availability. He already delivered on his promise and now, a year closer to his prime and with a reduced right-field fence, he could do even more. If Davis is as healthy as he claims he is, you won't regret drafting him.

Bust ... David Wright, 3B

Wright still has the reputation of a five-category stud even though he has fallen short of those numbers twice in the last three seasons. Last year, his issue was a stress fracture in his lower back, but even when he returned, he hit only .272 with a .789 OPS in 243 at-bats. Over the last three seasons, he has a .284 batting average and .828 OPS, which are solid numbers but less than elite even for a third baseman. True, his struggles began the same year the Mets moved to spacious Citi Field, but that doesn't explain why his numbers have lagged on the road during that time. Thus, you can't assume the team's decision to move in the fences this year will be Wright's miracle cure. It'll help, but it won't eliminate the injuries, the perpetually rising strikeout rate and the curious home-road splits. With high-upside third basemen like Brett Lawrie and Emilio Bonifacio available later in the draft, you're better off passing on Wright in the second round.

Sleeper ... Lucas Duda, OF

Though the Mets' decision to move in the fences at Citi Field this season helps, Duda's success in the majors late last year should have made him a Fantasy sleeper already. But for some reason, a certain percentage of the Fantasy-playing population tunes out around the All-Star break, making any breakouts that happen beyond that point somehow less valid. Fortunately for us more attentive types, that means players like Duda get overlooked. From July 15 (about the time he took over for a departed Carlos Beltran) to the end of the season, Duda hit .322 with 10 homers and a .957 OPS -- numbers that jive with his minor-league track record. And that was at old Citi Field, complete with its big gaps, tall fences and ability to crush David Wright's spirit. Granted, Duda is no guarantee to continue those numbers over a full season, but if you don't see the potential for him to outperform the late-round pick you'd use to get him, don't ever get into real estate.

2012 New York Mets Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Andres Torres CF 1 Johan Santana LH
2 Daniel Murphy 2B 2 R.A. Dickey RH
3 David Wright 3B 3 Jonathon Niese LH
4 Ike Davis 1B 4 Mike Pelfrey RH
5 Lucas Duda RF 5 Dillon Gee RH
6 Jason Bay LF Alt Chris Schwinden RH
7 Josh Thole C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Ruben Tejada SS CL Frank Francisco RH
Top bench options SU Jon Rauch RH
R Scott Hairston OF RP Ramon Ramirez RH
R Justin Turner IF RP Bobby Parnell RH
R Adam Loewen OF RP Tim Byrdak LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Zack Wheeler 21 SP Class A Double-A
The system's top prospect after coming over from the Giants in the Carlos Beltran deal, Wheeler is likely still a year away, but he's the Mets' best hope at a true ace.
2 Matt Harvey 23 SP Double-A Triple-A
Harvey still needs to work on his secondary pitches, but his upside is similar to Wheeler's. The problem is, at age 23, he doesn't have as much time to meet it.
3 Jeurys Familia 22 SP Double-A Triple-A
Familia is further along than Wheeler and Harvey, but his control problems make him less of a sure thing. The hard-thrower could make an impact this year, though.
4 Kirk Nieuwenhuis 24 OF Triple-A Triple-A
Some would prefer to see Nieuwenhuis starting over Torres, so perhaps a midseason switch is inevitable. The David Murphy clone could factor in deeper leagues.
5 Wilmer Flores 20 SS Class A Class A
The former elite prospect's star is fading after another down year. He's still a good contact hitter, but he needs to show power soon to justify his keeper slot.
Best of the rest: Chris Schwinden, SP; Reese Havens, 2B; Brandon Nimmo, OF; Cesar Puello, OF; Josh Satin, 1B; Josh Stinson, RP; Jordany Valdespin, 2B; Cory Vaughn, OF; Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B; Zach Lutz, 3B; Armando Rodriguez, SP; Sean Ratliff, OF; Matt den Dekker, OF; Darrell Ceciliani, OF; and Mike Nickeas, C.

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Player News
Mariners' Fernando Rodney allows homer, earns save Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:27 am ET) Mariners closer Fernando Rodney gave up a home run in the ninth inning Monday but was able to finish off his team's 3-2 win over the Angels for his eighth save.

Rodney retired the first batter he faced in the ninth inning but then served up a homer to center field to bring the Angels within one. After another out, the closer put a man on base with a walk, but catcher Mike Zunino was able to throw out a pinch-runner on a steal attempt to finish the game.

Rodney owns a 5.56 ERA and 11:7 K:BB ratio in 11 1/3 innings.


Athletics' Billy Butler snaps hitless skid Monday vs. Twins
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:23 am ET) Athletics designated hitter Billy Butler ended an 0-for-20 slump by hitting a single in the first inning Monday but couldn't find another hit across his final four at-bats in his team's 8-7 loss to the Twins.

"I got one, but I had other pitches to hit," Butler said after the game, per the Bay Area News Group. "It’s just not working out for me right now, you know? I got pitches from (Twins’ starter Phil) Hughes after that, pitches to hit from other guys, too."

Butler was unable to find success late against closer Glen Perkins, popping up with a man on base and his team down two.

"I got a pitch from Perkins," Butler said. "I was just swinging, and I’m not getting the results for reasons I can’t see right now."

Butler, who sported a .377 batting average and 1.023 OPS on April 22, is hitting .257/.318/.396 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 101 at-bats due to his recent struggles.


Angels' David Freese collects fifth home run Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:18 am ET) Angels third baseman David Freese went 1 for 3 with a walk and a solo home run in his team's 3-2 loss to the Mariners Monday.

Freese delivered the fifth solo homer of the game in the bottom of the ninth inning to close the gap to one run, but the Angels were unable to complete the comeback, with a pinch-runner getting caught stealing for the final out of the game. The third baseman has hit .220/.262/.420 with five home runs and 19 RBI in 100 at-bats.


Angels' Matt Joyce knocks first home run Monday vs. Mariners
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Angels left fielder Matt Joyce went 1 for 3 with a walk and a solo home run in his team's 3-2 loss to the Mariners Monday.

Joyce answered a pair of solo home runs in the top of the seventh with one of his own in the bottom half of the inning. He was then pulled for a pinch-runner after drawing a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth inning with his team down one run, but the runner was caught stealing to end the game.

Joyce has hit .148/.195/.222 with one home run and seven RBI in 81 at-bats.


Mariners' Seth Smith hits second home run Monday vs. Angels
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:11 am ET) Mariners designated hitter Seth Smith went 1 for 4 with a solo home run in his team's 3-2 win over the Angels Monday.

Smith pushed his team's lead to 3-1 with his eighth-inning home run, and the insurance run would prove vital, as the Angels slugged a solo homer of their own in the bottom of the ninth. Smith has hit .274/.329/.516 with two home runs and seven RBI in 62 at-bats.


Mariners' Logan Morrison slugs fourth home run Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:09 am ET) Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison went 1 foe 3 with a walk and a solo home run in his team's 3-2 win over the Angels Monday.

Morrison was the only Seattle player to reach more than once on a day in which his team managed just four hits and one walk but scored three runs, all on solo homers. His home run was his third in his last four games and extended his hitting streak to six games.

Morrison has hit just .222/.271/.389 with four home runs and seven RBI in 90 at-bats, but he sported a .149 batting average less than a week ago before his recent offensive success.


Giants OF Angel Pagan gets two hits in victory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(1:05 am ET) Giants outfielder Angel Pagan went 2 for 4 from the plate during Monday night's 2-0 win against the Padres. 

Pagan hit an RBI single in the third inning, which scored Nori Aoki. He also hit a single in the first inning. Pagan now has a slash line of .350/.373/.447. 


Mariners' Nelson Cruz keeps slugging, nabs 14th homer Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:04 am ET) Mariners right fielder Nelson Cruz went 1 for 4 with a solo home run in his team's 3-2 win over the Angels Monday.

The Mariners were only able to collect four home runs Monday night; incredibly, three were solo homers, with the first coming from Cruz, the major-league home-run leader. He broke a scoreless tie with his seventh-inning shot over the left field wall. It was his fifth home run in the last six games.

Cruz has hit .340/.382/.796 with 14 home runs and 26 RBI in 103 at-bats. He'll look to keep rolling as the series against the Angels continues Tuesday.


Giants' Santiago Casilla earns save against Padres
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) Giants closer Santiago Casilla earned his eighth save of the season in Monday night's 2-0 win over the Padres. 

Casilla pitched the ninth inning, struck out one batter and held the Padres without a hit. He now has an ERA of 2.13. 


Red Sox's Allen Craig 'ready' in case Hanley Ramirez misses time
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:01 am ET) Red Sox outfielder Allen Craig could be facing an increase in playing time after Hanley Ramirez suffered a shoulder injury while crashing into an outfield wall Monday. Craig said he'll "be ready" for the challenge if needed, the Boston Herald reports.

"I enjoy playing the game as much as possible," Craig said Monday night. "Like I said before, you never want to get an opportunity because of someone’s injury, but I don’t want to jump the gun on anything. I hope Hanley’s OK. If my name’s called, I’ll be ready."

Craig replaced Ramirez in Monday's game and went 1 for 4 in his team's 5-1 loss to the Rays. He has hit .146/.222/.220 with one home run and two RBI in 41 at-bats.


 
 
 
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