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2013 Fantasy outlooks: New York Mets

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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It's been four years since the New York Mets have had a winning season.

It's been six years since the Mets have made the postseason.

2013 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

It's been 12 years since the Mets have been in the World Series.

And it's been 26 years since the Mets won their last World Series title.

With every season it seems the Mets are getting further and further away from their ultimate goal -- winning the World Series -- and it doesn't appear they made enough offseason moves to be considered legitimate contenders heading into 2013.

The Mets were one of the worst offensive teams in the majors in 2012. They scored 650 runs, which ranked 25th in the majors. Perhaps that isn't the strongest indicator of being a playoff contender since the Dodgers scored just 637 runs last season and won 86 games. However, unlike the Dodgers, who have overhauled their roster, the Mets didn't add any significant bats to their lineup this offseason.

The Mets managed to lock up third baseman David Wright with a long-term contract, but his supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. The Mets were able to rid themselves of struggling slugger Jason Bay, but Wright's only real lineup protection remains Ike Davis and there appears to be no immediate help on the way from the minors. The Mets' farm system is pitcher-heavy, as Baseball America ranks pitchers as seven of the team's top 10 prospects.

The outfield is a work in progress. The opening day lineup could feature Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter, who have combined for 39 homers and 165 RBI in 430 MLB games. The newest name to the Mets' lineup is catcher John Buck, and while Buck has pop for a catcher, he brings a career .235 average and .303 on-base percentage to the Big Apple.

It wasn't all bad news for New York's other team in 2012. The Mets did lead the majors in quality starts with 101. Although, R.A. Dickey accounted for 26.7 percent of those quality starts (27) on his way to winning the NL Cy Young award, and he is now north of the border in Toronto. Although, the Mets landed some pretty good prospects by trading Dickey, with catcher Travis d'Arnaud being the centerpiece of the deal.

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Ruben Tejada SS
2. Daniel Murphy 2B
3. David Wright 3B
4. Ike Davis 1B
5. Lucas Duda LF
6. Kirk Nieuwenhuis CF
7. Mike Baxter RF
8. John Buck C
Bench Jordany Valdespin INF/OF
Bench Justin Turner INF
Bench Collin Cowgill OF

Like many rebuilding teams, the outlook for the Mets is keeping an eye on the future. d'Arnaud is one of the best catcher prospects in the minors and might one day manage a rotation from behind the plate that features Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese and Noah Syndergaard.

Sadly, it looks like another trying year for New York, and we will probably be writing next season that it has been 27 years since the Mets were World Series champs.

Breakout ... Ike Davis, first base

Davis was the only Mets' player to hit 30-plus homers last season, finishing with a career-best 32. You're probably thinking it's tough to call a 30-homer player a breakout, but it's not like the rest of Davis' numbers were impressive. He hit .227 with a .308 on-base percentage and .771 OPS last season. Davis really struggled in the first half, hitting .201 with .271 OBP, .388 slugging percentage and .659 OPS. After the All-Star break he had 20 homers, .542 slugging percentage and .888 OPS. If Davis hits more like that for a full season and fixes his shortcomings against left-handed pitchers, then he surely is set to make a serious move up Fantasy first base rankings.

Sleeper ... Matt Harvey, starting pitcher

Harvey made his MLB debut in 2012 a little more than two years after the Mets took him with the seventh overall pick in the amateur draft. The scouts felt he could quickly move through the system because of his college pedigree, and Harvey didn't disappoint. After carving up minor-league hitters, Harvey debuted with an 11-strikeout performance July 26 at Arizona and kept his rotation spot through the end of the year. Harvey is going to be under a lot of pressure to be the arm to help replace R.A. Dickey's presence in the rotation, but he has a four-pitch arsenal that keeps hitters off balance and Fantasy owners will love his strikeout potential. He struck out 9.8 batters per nine innings in the minors and averaged 10.6 K/9 in 10 MLB starts last season.

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Johan Santana LHP
2. Jonathon Niese LHP
3. Shaun Marcum RHP
4. Dillon Gee RHP
5. Matt Harvey RHP
ALT Jenrry Mejia RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Frank Francisco RHP
2. Bobby Parnell RHP
3. Josh Edgin LHP
4. Robert Carson LHP
5. Jeremy Hefner RHP

Sleeper Redux ... Lucas Duda, outfield

Duda was one of ours and many pundits' favorite sleepers last season. After slugging .482 in 100 games in 2011, Duda came into 2012 with raised expectations, and the new dimensions at Citi Field were expected to benefit Duda's left-handed power bat. Well, a .241 average by late July bought Duda a ticket back to the minors and only returned late in the season as a platoon player. It seems the Mets' lack of offseason moves means Duda will get another chance to emerge as a power bat in the middle of the lineup, but he needs to improve against left-handed pitching. In six minor-league seasons, Duda has a .284/.380/.469/.849 line. He has the offensive talent. He just needs to show he isn't a platoon player.

Prospects Report

Zack Wheeler, who was obtained in the 2011 trade that sent Carlos Beltran to San Francisco, has the makeup to be an ace and could be ready for his MLB debut in 2013. Wheeler made it to Triple-A late last season (six starts), but he is expected to open the year at Buffalo again. His performance will dictate his major-league arrival, but Wheeler could be considered a draft-and-stash player in deeper formats ... Travis d'Arnaud could arrive the same time as Wheeler, if not before. He might have made it to the majors last season with Toronto, but he suffered a knee injury at Triple-A that cut his season short. The Mets probably want d'Arnaud to work with Wheeler and prove he is healthy before his promotion. It's not like John Buck is a major force standing in d'Arnaud's way, so once he is ready for major-league action he will probably get the call. d'Arnaud has the potential to be an impact Fantasy bat ... The Mets' farm system is loaded with pitching prospects, but most of them only have low minors experience and could be a few years away from a Fantasy impact. Names to keep tabs on are Noah Syndergaard, Luis Mateo, Rafael Montero, Domingo Tapia and Michael Fulmer. Jeurys Familia would have made this list last year, but he struggled with his command in 2012 and now is projected to be a major league reliever, which drastically cuts into his long-term Fantasy value ... One bat to keep an eye on in the Mets' system is Wilmer Flores. After a slower than expected progression, Flores finally flourished in 2012, batting .300 with a career-high 18 homers in 130 games between Class A and Triple-A. It came after Flores was moved to third base, which is now blocked by David Wright's long-term contract. Flores has played shortstop, second base and first base in the minors, so his defensive versatility could put him on track to debut this season if he thrives at Triple-A.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Michael Hurcomb at @cbshurc . You can also send us an e- mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Luis Valbuena to open season as Astros' starting third baseman
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:38 am ET) With the demotion of Matt Dominguez to the minors on Sunday, Luis Valbuena will officially open the season as the Astros' starting third baseman.

"One of our goals this offseason was to give ourselves more options," general manager Jeff Luhnow said, per the Houston Chronicle. "Our infield production last year, with the exception of (Jose) Altuve, was below what we really needed it to compete in this division.

"So we went out to address upgrades at shortstop (accomplished with the signing of Jed Lowrie) and options at third and first base, and I think we're seeing the results of that. Valbuena had an amazing spring so far and is basically going to be our third baseman."

Valbuena is batting .405 (17 for 42) with two home runs, five doubles, four runs, eight RBI, four walks and six strikeouts in 15 spring games.


Phillies 3B Cody Asche returns from back injury Monday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:31 am ET) Phillies third baseman Cody Asche returned to the starting lineup Monday against the Pirates after missing four straight spring training games due to back tightness. He started at third base and hit sixth Monday.

Braves option Vizcaino to Triple-A, reassign Kohn to minor-league camp
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:26 am ET) The Braves announced Monday they optioned pitcher Arodys Vizcaino to Triple-A Gwinnett. They also reassigned pitcher Michael Kohn to minor-league camp.

Carlos Villanueva earns spot in Cardinals bullpen
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:23 am ET) Cardinals manager Mike Matheny confirmed Monday pitcher Carlos Villanueva has earned a spot in the bullpen, per MLB.com. Villanueva is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 innings this spring. He also has 11 strikeouts to just two walks.

Report: Mets still open to trading pitcher Dillon Gee
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:15 am ET) While Dillon Gee is on track to replace Zack Wheeler (elbow) in the team's rotation, the Mets still might trade Gee within the month, a team source told ESPN on Monday. Gee is expected to open the season in the rotation, but some team officials would rather see prospect Rafael Montero take Wheeler's spot.

Mets manager Terry Collins has yet to officially name Gee as Wheeler's replacement and continues to keep Montero in the mix. Although, it seems Montero could end up in the bullpen, if Gee claims the final spot in the rotation.

Gee is expected to open the season with the Mets since there are no active trade talks, a source said.


Red Sox acquire Leon from Nationals, place Vazquez on 60-day DL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:11 am ET) The Red Sox traded for Nationals catcher Sandy Leon on Monday. The Nationals received cash considerations in exchange for Leon.

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox placed catcher Christian Vazquez (elbow) on the 60-day disabled list.

The 26-year-old Leon has appeared in just 34 games at the major-league level. He has a .236/.324/.329/.653 slash line over eight seasons in the minors.


Marlins release Reed Johnson, option Preston Claiborne to Triple-A
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:02 am ET) The Marlins announced Monday they granted outfielder Reed Johnson his unconditional release. They also optioned pitcher Preston Claiborne to Triple-A New Orleans.

Rays' Cash changes course, plans to take closer-by-committee approach
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:57 am ET) A day after indicating Brad Boxberger would be the team's closer while Jake McGee is sidelined with an elbow injury, Rays manager Kevin Cash said Monday he is not going to name a closer, per the Tampa Bay Times. Cash added they will use several relievers in save situations.

Cash added they will revisit the closer situation once McGee comes off the disabled list. McGee is expected to miss the first month of the season.


Rays SP Drew Smyly set for two rounds of live batting practice
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:52 am ET) Rays starting pitcher Drew Smyly emerged from his bullpen session Sunday without any issues, so he is now scheduled to throw batting practice Wednesday and Saturday before he starts throwing in rehab games, per the Tampa Bay Times.

Manager Kevin Cash said Smyly's return to the rotation depends on whether the teams want to stretch him out to 75 or 105 pitches, per The Tampa Tribune. Smyly is targeting an April return.


Tigers reassign six players to minor-league camp
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:45 am ET) The Tigers announced Monday they reassigned Jordan Lennerton, Xavier Avery, Manny Pina, Jefry Marte, Aaron Westlake and Jason Krizan to minor-league camp, per MLB.com.

 
 
 
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