We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2014 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2014 Mets Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Eno Sarris from FanGraphs.
1) The Mets made some early moves in free agency this offseason including the signing of Curtis Granderson. What can fantasy players expect from him in 2014 now that he calls Citi Field his home?
Obviously the strikeouts are going in the wrong direction, and at 32, he’s probably not going to reverse that trend. You can book a bad average. But it’s a bit too early for a power plunge like the one he went on in 2013, so let’s chalk that up to two separate injuries caused by hit-by-pitches. He’s no Shin-Soo Choo or Carlos Quentin when it comes to hit-by-pitches either, so it’s not likely that he’ll continue to have injury problems due to being beaned. He’ll lose the short porch at home with the move to Queens, but he’ll like hitting in Citizen’s Bank in Philadelphia. Maybe the ten feet of longer distance in right field will steal a handful of home runs. It’s just a question of how desperate you are for power in today’s power-starved game. Are you willing to pay a .240 average (or worse) for your 25 home runs?
2) Another signing that made some waves was Bartolo Colon, who had a fantastic 2013 season. You wrote about some of the risks involved with Colon at Fangraphs. If he does struggle, who do you see emerging as the ace of the Mets staff this year in the absence of Matt Harvey?
The sexy pick is Zack Wheeler for sure. He’s got big-time velocity at least, and he’s probably done tipping his pitches. But none of his secondary pitches got average whiff rates last year. And he struggled to command the ball. And he got shut down for shoulder issues at the end of the year. These things might all be related, but they also scream risky business. He might be better long term than he will be in 2014. And the rest of the Mets prospect hurlers aren’t a lock to come up, since 2014 seems to be the contention deadline. You might see Noah Syndergaard and/or Rafael Montero late in the season, but they won’t pitch enough to be aces. Jon Niese has underwhelming stuff and Dillon Gee has a terrible fastball — both will be useful in the near- and long-term, but they don’t have the stuff to be aces. You know who does, and who seems to be a lock to pitch at least 140 innings next season? Jenrry Mejia. Since ditching a curve for a slider, he’s shown better control and wipeout stuff. He may only whiff seven or so per nine, but the cutter, slider, and change combo — with the occasional curve still — is enough to get him grounders by the gallon.
3) Eric Young was a great play for stolen bases in the second half of 2013. Should fantasy owners curb their enthusiasm due to playing time concerns in a crowded Mets outfield, or can EY2 eke out enough plate appearances to make his legs really valuable again?
Unfortunately I think his real-life flaws will come back to bite him. He doesn’t have patience, power or defense — that’s how you have the season he had and aren’t even worth a full win above replacement. Juan Lagares doesn’t have a great bat, but Eric Young isn’t half the defender in center field. Curtis Granderson is a full-time starter. That leaves the Youngs to battle it out. The good news is that Chris Young is a righty and only in town on a one-year deal. Eric Young is cheap and under team control until 2016. He may play against righties in left, and between injuries and play all over the outfield, he might be able to manage 400 plate appearances. That could come with 25-30 steals, but the rest of his counting stats will make him a deep league play, most likely.
4) Deep league/keeper league players always have one eye on a team’s prospects. Which prospect(s) from the Mets system do you see coming up and having the biggest impact in 2014?
You never know how deep to go with these questions. Rafael Montero is a well-known name these days in Mets circles, but perhaps people outside of that sphere aren’t as familiar. He’s short, but he can touch 94 (sits 92), has two good fastballs and a firm but good changeup. Most of it plays up because of good control. And with the Mets so short on positional prospects near the bigs, a Biogenesis suspension won’t stop Cesar Puello. He’s a bit of a loose cannon at the plate, and we’ll see if he can consistently hit breaking balls, but he has power and speed and should be relevant sooner rather than later.
5) You created a cool site called BeerGraphs. If you had to choose a beer that best represents the 2014 Mets, what would it be and why?
Maybe Backburner Barleywine from Southern Tier Brewing (http://beergraphs.com/leaderboards/?brewery=32). The beer is a 1.75 beer-win beer by our ratings, meaning it’s just below average.. right now. That might be because the taste of losing is so strong (9.6% ABV). But, as is the case with Southern Tier brewing, there’s some upside bubbling below the surface. If half of these pitching prospects turn into the pitchers they could be, it’ll only take a few shrewd signings to turn this beer into the Pumking, a ten-win beer (hall-of-fame level) beer that’s the King of October.