I’m worried. 2015 is supposed to be our year. David Wright thinks we’ll be in the playoffs, Sandy Alderson thinks we’ll improve by 10 wins, and people on ESPN are saying the Mets are better than the Yankees. For the past couples seasons this was the year people have been saying the Mets will rise from mediocrity and head to the playoffs, but I’m worried.
The NL East
The Nationals are the best team in baseball and they just happen to be in our division, the Mets aren’t winning the NL East bar a miracle. Luckily the Phillies still have Ruben Amaro Jr. doing the best he can and the Braves have seemingly given up already, they lost 2 of their starting OFs but managed to hold on to their worst one. The Mets never play well against teams they should beat, but I’d rather play them than the Nationals. The Marlins scare me the most, if they had a healthy Jose Fernandez I’d say they’re better than the Mets, but as of now I’d say the Mets have a slight edge with him out till June.
The NL Wildcard Spots
The Cubs and Padres look much better than last year. Vegas gives the Cubs 14/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Padres went out and added 2 former strong MVP candidates and a former AL ROY winner. Meanwhile the Mets added an 35 (will turn 36 in March) year old OF who doesn’t play in the hitter heaven Coors anymore and a bench OF that couldn’t even start for the Phillies. The Phillies! Thankfully it’s not an even year and the Giants lost Sandoval, so I’m docking the returning champs down a few wins, but I don’t see a weak team in the NL Central and the Dodgers look dominant again. Thankfully there are 2 wildcard spots, but the Mets have tough competition to win one of them.
Michael Cuddyer was my favorite Twin and I loved his success in Colorado. I’m not thrilled losing the 15th overall pick in this years draft for a 36 year old OF who hasn’t played a full season in forever. I love the guy, he has a pretty photography page, he does magic, and he’s basically one of the nicest guys ever. He’s a great addition to the clubhouse and now the Mets have 3 of the classiest players in baseball with him, Wright, and Granderson. But go look at his magic show again (or at all), pretty heart warming right? But he looks so old and if I didn’t know baseball I wouldn’t have guessed he’d be the player to push a mediocre team into the playoffs. I love Cuddyer and I think he’ll help the Mets offensively when he’s on the field, but I’m worried. John Mayberry Jr. can hit lefties decently and I always thought he had the potential to be better, but moving from Citizens Bank Park to Citi isn’t exactly helpful. The Mets quietly cut Eric Young Jr., he wasn’t the best hitter but he was a ton of fun to watch and super fast. They gave up Collin Mchugh to get EY2, I would have thought they’d given him more leeway, but now he’s gone. Bobby Parnell comes back from Tommy John surgery; I don’t know how effective he’ll be immediately, but I do know the bullpen is better off with him in it. Not having Jose Valverde closing for a couple weeks can only help right?
The Harvey Factor
In 2013 Matt Harvey pitched so well I considered naming both my sons after him, but then he got injured and underwent Tommy John surgery. Now that surgery isn’t the death sentence it formerly was and he had more than a year to recover, but I’m worried. He and his super model girlfriend broke up, he’s lost his confidence!, The Moneyball scouts would hate him. Plus he looked so fat at Jeter’s last game and he hasn’t looked in shape in any of the photos I’ve seen of him recently. Just saying.
His BB/9 always hovered around the high 3s in the minors and his previous 2012 season, but it was 1.56 in his amazing 2013. There’s not a large sample size, but if his walk rate regressed back to his pre 2013 numbers then we have a problem. I think his K’s are legit, his K rate has been above 9 at every level, but he’s never pitched a full season in the majors and won’t pitch a full season this year. Expecting a return to dominant numbers after a small sample size scares me the most, but no one seems worried.
Adam Wainwright is brought up every time I hear success stories from Tommy John surgery, but he’s a totally different pitcher than Harvey and he has Yadier Molina while Harvey’s never even pitched with d’Arnaud. There have been studies done on pitchers returning from Tommy John, but the findings have been all over the place. I don’t know what to expect from him, he’s a wildcard but people are expecting to be dealt an ace.
Flushing is a place where pitchers go to die. Dwight Gooden was derailed after an amazing start, drugs may have been involved there though. Johan Santana was derailed after the bullpen blew too many of his wins. He delivered the first Met no-hitter, but after that he was broken. Pedro Martinez probably should have just retired instead of mar his resume in Flushing. Tom Glavine, just why? He should have never been a Met in the first place. I still don’t think he deserved to be a first ballot Hall of Famer and I believe a certain teammate elevated his candidacy, but admittedly, I’m biased against all Braves. Could Harvey be the next Tom Seaver? Probably not, but hopefully he’s not part of Generation K 2.0.
Bound to Regress
Duda finally got full playing time and responded with a 30 HR season. He can’t hit lefties at all, but he should have better continued success than Ike Davis had after his 30 HR season. I’m judging this on his solid OBP and my own optimism. Slotting Cuddyer at 1st and Mayberry in LF against lefties could combine to make one All Star player, but Duda himself will probably regress from a career 2014.
Jacob deGrom came out of nowhere with that glorious hair of his. The Mets had a ton of pitching talent, but very few people saw deGrom being the one to make the difference. Can he maintain that same level of dominance he displayed when he won the NL ROY? Probably not, but I’m not expecting too much regression here.
Needs to Improve
The SS position. I’m actually okay with the Mets not giving up a ransom to land Tulowitzki or sign a SS free agent. I think Wilmer Flores could be pretty good. Either we’re going to have discussions later in the season how everyone always believed in him and knew he’d be great or another year of everyone complaining about having a SS that can’t compare to former NY All Stars Jeter and Reyes. His glove isn’t good, but he’s 23 and can improve, but maybe because of how good the pitching staff is he doesn’t have to be as good as Andrelton Simmons. Serviceable defense is all I’m looking for and then he’ll slide to 2B down the road. He had 13 HRs in only 55 minor league games last year, yeah it was in the PCL, but the Mets need offense and he could bring that. If Collins could name him the starting SS over Tejada I’d call that a step forward.
David Wright. The team is figuratively on his shoulders, but his shoulders are literally wrecked. A healthy David Wright would make a huge difference for the Amazin’s…but he didn’t get surgery. I’m not too confident a 32 year old can just recover from a shoulder injury through force of will, but I’m forcing my will on him to be healthy. Hopefully that helps. He was a 6 WAR player a season ago and a stud 2 seasons ago… He’s the only current captain in baseball and the face of the franchise for the past decade. We need him to succeed.
Granderson’s a streaky hitter, but the Mets hired former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, the man that helped him when he had back to back 40 HR seasons, so hopefully they can rekindle that magic. They moved in the fences again, that could help, but I still think the team will need to rely on its pitching.
Travis d’Arnaud needs to stay healthy…even though he’s never done that, ever. He hit well after his short demotion in June and here’s an article explaining how and if he can maintain that.
2015 Final Outlook
What Lagares does in CF is a work of art, Murph is always entertaining to watch with his goofy antics, and the bullpen looks solid. I love Bartolo Colon, but I expect him to be gone before the seasons over. If Wheeler could walk less people he could be the best pitcher on the team. Niese being the only lefty slightly worries me. Getting out of PCL does wonders for a pitcher, I still believe Thor will be a monster eventually.
Last year the Mets had 79 wins and the wildcard slots were taken by 2 teams with 88 wins. That’s a 9 win swing. Do the Mets have what it takes? I think they underperformed in 2014, but they need to do a lot of things right in 2015 if they want to play in the playoffs, once they’re in it’s a crapshoot and anyone can win. If they don’t make it this year Terry Collins should be worried about his job, but it would suck to be fired by the Wilpons for not doing a good job, talk about the ultimate irony.
The Mets start off slow, but rally midseason to fight for a Wildcard spot
before eventually choking again and win a playoff tiebreaker with the Cubs to get in.