Like most fathers, my dad doled out plenty of pearls of wisdom for my benefit over the years. Some of it sticks. Some of it goes in one ear and out the other. Some of it matters tremendously when you hear it but then melts away over time, lost in parts of your brain where important stuff like the names of your first crush, the gym teacher on Saved By the Bell and the lyrics to No Easy Way Out get priority.
One thing my dad taught me at an early age was this: The six most common spoken words in the English language are "Mets threaten but do not score." The older I got and the more I paid attention to Mets games, the more I saw how right my father was. When the Mets have the bases loaded and no one out, they score 1-run or less in that inning 76.3% of the time. That's not a stat I can prove or anything, but I damn well know it to be true. Historically designated drivers drive more people home than the Mets do. Only 14 different Met players have had 100 rbi seasons. Even in years when they are good, it seems like the Mets are always struggling for the clutch hit.
That brings us to this year. Coming off a 74-win season (which I accurately predicted here last year. Pat-pat-pat on the back!) in which they scored 650 runs, I suspect this year will be worse. The Mets actually threatening to score may be a big deal.
Let's begin with the outfield. Colin Cowgill looks like a downgrade from Andres Torres.
Last year I thought Lucas Duda would hit around 30 homers and be a poor man's Adam Dunn. Turns out he may be more unstable than a Jenga tower already missing some pieces. He lost confidence, was sent to AAA, struggled down there and did little upon his return to convince folks he was a legit major league player. And then there is newcomer Marlon Byrd. He had a lovely spring... lead the Grapefruit League in doubles... hit .350... and all I can think of is Jermaine Allensworth. Remember him Mets fans? He had a monster spring for New York in '98. He smacked about 8 homers down there in Port St. Lucie and Mets fans got excited. Then he hit .204 with 2 homers when it actually counted. So much for that. These three guys will likely make the trio of Agbayani, Payton and Bell look like Willie, Mickey and The Duke.
The infield offense is where the actual threatening part of the Mets attack is most likely to occur.
Murphy, Wright and Davis are legit major league hitters. They were the only three players on the team last year to score 60 runs and drive in 60 runs. It's likely that they'll each eclipse 80 in the runs/rbi department and combine to provide 35%-40% of the offense. Last year I wrote I thought Ruben Tejada was, at best, destined to be a journeyman player. Then he went out and turned in a nice season, hitting .289, scoring 53 runs and exceeding expectations. This spring he has just a few more hits than Frank Taveras (who retired 30 years ago) and the Mets apparently discussed having him start the season in AAA Las Vegas. To be fair, a few good games of blackjack would produce more "hits" for Tejada than he had in March, but I'm not doubling down on a season like last year from old Ruben.
As for catcher offense, the New Orleans Superdome doesn't have the power issues the Mets did last year. 5 homers and 44 rbi is what they got from Thole, Nickeas and Johnson. All year. From their catchers. Over 162 games.
If he plays all season, John Buck will likely hit 15 homers and drive in 50, but he'll probably bat .210 along the way. The X-factor here is Travis d'Arnuad who will get the call at some point and could give the Mets more consistent offense from the catching position.
In a couple of years this generation of Mets fans may have their Seaver, Koosman and Matlack in Wheeler, Harvey and Niese. It likely won't be that good, but it will be much better than Generation K.
Right now, it's Harvey and Niese and fall on your knees. I think those two will combine for 30 wins. The trio of Gee, Marcum and numerous #5 guys might combine to win 20.
The Mets bullpen is what most bullpens on bad teams are, a collection of guys you hope perform well. When looking at the Mets pen lets just say optimism does not abound. Greg Burke is a converted sidearmer who hasn't pitched in the bigs since '09. Scott Rice is as wonderful story. He has faced 3,600 batters in the minor leagues and at age 31 he finally made a big league club. The problem? He has faced 3,600 minor league batters and at age 31 finally made a big league club. Atchinson, Lyons and Hawkins have all been a mixed bag of results in their careers. Bobby Parnell is the one guy I am confident can consistently get big league hitters out but so far he has yet to prove that he can do it in the 9th inning, which is where he'll be doing his work this year.
Gone from last year's team are a 20-game winner in Dickey and a 20 home run hitter in Hairston.
As noted before, that team won 74 games. The 2013 Mets get a full season of Matt Harvey, hopefully a full season of the Ike Davis Mets fans hope he can be and David Wright continuing to be an upper level, but not quite elite, player. Oh, and the promise of Wheeler and d'Arnaud eventually taking their first steps down career paths we hope help lead this franchise out of the doldrums and back to an exciting, competitive team capable of great things.
Until that time, get used to hearing Gary Cohen, Josh Lewin or Howie Rose going to commercial break by saying "....Mets threaten, but do not score."