NEW YORK (AP) — Five things to know about the New York Mets as they start spring training camp:
MAKING THEIR MOVE: In his first three years with the Mets, GM Sandy Alderson took a conservative approach to free agency. He shopped mostly for bargains as the front office focused on restocking the farm system while waiting for bloated contracts to expire. But now, New York is beginning to get back in the game after five straight losing seasons. The Mets spent more than $87 million to bring in Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young. Several key prospects are just about ready, and the Mets expect to start winning this year as they point toward big things in 2015 when All-Star ace Matt Harvey returns from reconstructive elbow surgery.
WHO'S ON FIRST?: There was a time when the Mets thought they really had something in Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. Both showed power and patience at the plate as promising rookies a few years ago, but neither has been able to sustain that early success and both got demoted to the minors. Now, they're left to compete for playing time at first base, almost by default after New York was unable to upgrade there. Dreadful starts have hurt Davis the past two years, while Duda struggles to drive in runs. They put up nearly identical numbers in 2013 — which was nothing to get excited about. Josh Satin offers an option from the right side in a strikeout-prone lineup.
YOUNG ARMS: The Mets are banking on a band of touted young pitchers to lead them out of the doldrums, and early results have been encouraging. Harvey and Zack Wheeler didn't take long to establish themselves as effective major league starters, and the next batch of up-and-comers will be on display at spring training. Jenrry Mejia, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom could be in the mix for the final rotation spot, along with veterans John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka. But all eyes will be on 21-year-old Noah Syndergaard, one of baseball's premier prospects. Acquired from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Syndergaard went 6-1 with 69 strikeouts and only 12 walks in 11 Double-A starts last year. He could be called up by midseason.