Five Burning Questions For 2013: New York Mets

by Brian Joura of http://mets360.com/

Most people are going to put the Mets down for a sub-.500 year in 2013 and figure the only storylines worth following are what the club does to position itself for 2014 and beyond. If that’s what you were expecting to see here, you will be disappointed. Last year on July 7, the Mets were seven games over .500 and tied for the second Wild Card. Their Pythagorean Record was only one win away from their actual record and that was with the worst bullpen in the majors. This year’s team will not challenge for 100 losses and there’s no reason for fans or management to punt the season.

So, here are the Top 5 stories that figure to have the most impact on the 2013 Mets:

5) Did Dillon Gee turn the corner in 2012?
The pitcher of record in the July 7 game mentioned above, it was the last game of the year for Gee who sat out the rest of the season with a damaged artery in his shoulder. In his last 10 games Gee tossed nine Quality Starts and the Mets missed him more than anyone would have imagined. He took a big leap forward in 2012, most notably in his strikeout rate. He posted a 7.96 K/9, which led to a 3.54 xFIP. If Gee can turn in those types of numbers over a full season it will go a long way in making up for the loss of R.A. Dickey.

4) Can Dave Hudgens unlock Lucas Duda’s power?
In 2011, Duda finished with a 137 OPS+ in 347 PA and looked like he was on the verge of becoming a middle-of-the-order hitter. However 2012 showed meh power and very little else. There was even a trip to the minors to try to shake him out of his doldrums. This year he’s in Spring Training early to work with batting coach Hudgens on maintaining a consistent approach from BP into games. If Duda can hit like he did in 2011, the Mets’ offense will not appear so punchless.

3) What will a healthy Ike Davis produce?
After a solid rookie season, Davis opened 2011 with a bang posting a .925 OPS in 149 PA before suffering a season-ending injury. Last year in Spring Training, Davis came down with Valley Fever. While he did not miss any time in the lineup, his bat was anemic in the early going and he might have been the worst player in baseball for the first nine weeks. Over his final 394 PA, Davis posted a .906 OPS, even with a .268 BABIP. Can a healthy Davis hit 40 HR? It’s not out of the question.

2) Is Matt Harvey ready for prime time?
The common perception is that with the loss of Dickey and the health questions surrounding Gee and Johan Santana (and even newcomer Shaun Marcum) the Mets’ rotation is a giant question mark. Bundled in with that assumption is the belief that no one knows what to expect from Harvey this year. What we do know is that he was the seventh pick of the 2010 Draft, the #54 prospect by Baseball America after one full season in the minors and a guy who came up and showed the best fastball by a Mets starting pitcher since they started keeping track of velocity in 2002. Assuming that Dan Warthen doesn’t try to recreate Mel Stottlemyre’s mistake with Doc Gooden and try to get Harvey to focus on his changeup, the future looks bright for the Mets’ young ace.

1) Will the real David Wright please stand up?
Over the first two months of the season Wright was an MVP candidate. After the All-Star break he was depressingly worse than the hitter he was in 2011. To add to the confusion, after three terrible years in the field Wright deserved the Gold Glove Award last year. So, what should the Mets expect in 2013? Wright might be harder to forecast than any other All-Star caliber player for his age 30 season in recent memory. And the Mets are gambling big on his production going forward.

For more on the Mets and from Brian Joura make sure to check out http://mets360.com/

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