Mets finish in third place, fans are anxious for more

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 and 2013 Mets both finished with 74-88 records, but the most recent team is in a much better position than its predecessor.

The records were identical, but the attitude going forward isn’t. In both 2012 and 2013, the Mets finished 74–88, but we all knew that 2013 wasn’t the competing year. Now 2013 is gone and the Mets are supposed to be ready to spend and contend.

Beginning today, the Mets will decide what the future of the franchise will look like. We know that Terry Collins will be back for the next two seasons. We know how much the Mets have to spend to put a product on the field for Collins—about $50 million, as the final payroll target is between $90-$100 million according to what Sandy Alderson said back in June (or maybe less than that if you read between the lines of his WFAN interview yesterday). Collins told the New York Post he believes the Mets will be aggressive with their newfound money.

"We’ve got a different frame of mind going into spring training," Collins said. "It’s no longer money issues hanging over our head, it’s no longer ‘Are we going to get this guy?’ They are going to be here and now our goal is to get out of the gate and show our fans what we’ve been talking, there’s meaning to it."

What we don’t know is if the Mets can actually get those deals done. The main priority is obviously fixing one of the worst offensive outfields in baseball, and Shin-Soo Choo looks to be the team’s main target. The Mets getting Shin Soo to Choo-Choo-Choose them will not be easy. Agent Scott Boras expects Choo to get more than $100 million, and the Mets aren’t likely spend that much, or go beyond a four-year deal.

To put that in perspective, Hunter Pence just signed a five-year, $90 million extension with the Giants. Choo’s on-base percentage was almost 100 points higher than Pence’s this season. Jacoby Ellsbury, Nelson Cruz, and even Carlos Beltran are possible, but less likely, targets. The Mets have to get a deal of that caliber done if they want to keep fans’ hearts from breaking, Ralph Wiggum style, before the season even starts.

The Mets are solidly set at catcher and third base with Travis d’Arnaud and David Wright, and seem satisfied with Daniel Murphy at second base. First base will be a competition between Lucas Duda and Ike Davis. That position could actually draw plenty of intrigue this offseason as both Davis and Duda are being shopped, and the Mets have even been brought up as a possible, though unlikely, landing place for Cuban superstar Jose Abreu.

Shortstop looked solved at the beginning of this season but is now confusing as ever going into 2014. Ruben Tejada didn’t make an offensive leap and spent most of the season either injured or in Las Vegas. Tejada also broke his leg in mid-September and will spend much of the offseason rehabbing. Omar Quintanilla isn’t a long-term answer (or even a decent short-term one) and Wilfredo Tovar has only 15 major league at-bats.

The pitching staff’s success is fully dependent on Matt Harvey’s health and his rehab from a UCL tear. Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, and Dillon Gee make up a solid core of the rotation, and the Mets are likely to sign a replacement piece or two a la Chris Capuano or Shaun Marcum. Prospects like Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard could be in the mix, but are also potential trade chips.

The bullpen needs to be revamped, but at least three pitchers from 2013 are likely to return. Bobby Parnell and Vic Black will definitely be back, and the Mets are hoping to keep LaTroy Hawkins. Younger guys like lefty Josh Edgin and righty Gonzalez Germen are also viable options for 2014, but a couple of veteran pieces wouldn’t hurt.

Collins managed the team to a third-place finish this season, and now it’s up to Alderson to build something better for Collins to work with. Fans are excited, and will only be content with contention next year.

"We’ve been talking about 2014 for two years," said Collins. "Everybody got to see the pieces. The talk is pretty much over now. It’s time to go get it done on the field."

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