The 7 Line heading east towards the “Mets-Willets Point” station lingered with optimism and hope. Having not tasted the playoffs since Carlos Beltran‘s bat found a home on his shoulder, the New York Mets had won the National League East Title. They squeaked by Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, and swept the red-hot Cubs. The “Beasts of the East” were on their way to the World Series.
The Metropolitan’s were clicking on all cylinders. Noah Syndergaard, Jacob Degrom, and Steven Matz were led by Matt Harvey who was showing that he was the ace, and the “Dark Knight” the city needed. Jeurys Familia was shutting down games at a record rate. Yoenis Cespedes was trying his best to win an MVP. The Captain was back… And Murph… Who could forget the unbelievable postseason run of Daniel Murphy.
The Mets go down in five…
2016, Madison Bumgarner 1-ups Syndergaard…
2017, a lost year with: under-performing players, trades, and oh… the injuries.
After finishing four games from the cellar, it’s hard to believe that two short seasons ago the NL Pennant was raised in Flushing.
And now the Mets Universe is counting down to February 12th. The day pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie.
Questionsto be answered:
– The Rotation: Number one and two are reserved for Syndergaard and Degrom, and they deserve it. The “Dark Knight” moniker may be long in the past, but if Harvey stays healthy, he will presumably receive one of the other spots. Seth Lugo seems like a good fit to make the move to the pen to help with long term relief. That leaves two open spots for Matz, Zach Wheeler, and Robert Gsellman to fight over this spring – which is not a bad problem to have. With the amount of inconsistency and injury that has plagued these young arms, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine all the aforementioned spending a considerable time on the bump throughout the 2018 season.
– The Bullpen: While Mets GM Sandy Alderson spends the winter on the hunt to help round out the pen, first time Skipper Mickey Callaway has a “new school” mindset. Callaway is toying with the idea of throwing away titles. He wants to take a page from Terry Francona and the Indians playbook. The theory goes: there will no longer be a traditional 7th-8th-9th inning “guy”. Callaway will put in whoever he believes has the best chance of getting an out. “It definitely depends on expected OPS and OPS that we know has already happened,” Callaway said. This means, if they stick to the plan, Familia, AJ Ramos, and Jerry Blevins will all take part in the fun come the late innings.
– The Roster: the Mets front office has made no major improvements to the roster. Let’s look at the names of who will be looking to fight for a spot on the opening day lineup card.
Ouch… Those names aren’t really going to turn heads, especially considering what the Bombers are doing across the river.
Flores and Cabrera are going to do what they always do, look for them to have average seasons at best. The infield would be solidified if sophomores Rosario, and Smith could play like they did in the desert. Behind the plate, and still one of the biggest question marks, is d’Arnaud. He showed flashes last year of being the catcher he has always been touted to be. Almost 29, and becoming a free agent in 2020, the clock is ticking. The outfield will need solid production from the platoons, and with Lagaras raking in 6.5 million this year, the hope is that he will do more than windup on “Web Gems”. The corners will be rounded out by the two biggest pieces of the Mets roster, Cespedes and Conforto (assuming he will be back for opening day). Any chance of making the postseason will hinge on both men returning to their All-Star status. Not for a portion of the year, but all the way until the leaves fall.
They are not going to be setting any records offensively, so If the Mets are going to win, it is going to have to come from 60 feet 6 inches away. Shutting hitters down when they step up to the plate. High fastballs and nasty sliders. The very core of which this team was built around still exists. It might be hard to see past the scapulas, lat muscles, and elbows, but it’s there. Next year is now this year, and the 7 is once again brimming with optimism and hope.