Football is in full swing, hockey is back, the return of basketball looms, and for an 8th consecutive season, the MLB playoffs are going on without the New York Mets. It was 2 years of heartbreaking collapses, and 6 years stuck in baseball purgatory that brings the Amazins to the point they currently sit. We saw a better baseball team in 2014 than we did in previous years, and with the return of Matt Harvey on the horizon, it’s time to be optimistic in Queens.
Let me start by saying that you are a fool if you don’t see the potential in this Mets pitching staff. We can’t expect Matt Harvey to be exactly what we saw in 2013, but he still has a chance to be one of the best pitchers in baseball. 2014 let us see the emergence of likely NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, a guy that scouts really overlooked in their evaluations of the Mets young pitching. Zack Wheeler had a rough start to the year, but finished by looking flat out dominant at some points. His lack of longevity is still an issue, but let’s remember that the guy is still only 24 years old. Jon Niese had a solid year, and is a very good left-handed starter to have if he stays healthy. Dillon Gee was bit by the injury bug, and had a shaky year, but let’s not forget about his very efficient 2013. Bartolo Colon won 15 games and was an innings eater, but the logical thing to do now is for the Mets to trade the 41 year old. Noah Syndergaard had his struggles in AAA and didn’t get that September call-up as was expected, but scouts still consider him to be one of the best pitching prospects in the game. The 5 spot in the Mets rotation is certainly up for grabs, and guys like Montero and Matz can also compete for it along with Gee and Syndergaard.
The Mets bullpen this year was as good as we have seen in a very long time. This can definitely be attributed to the emergence of more live, young arms. Mejia was shaky at times, but still saved 28 games. Familia was a great set up man who will likely get some ROY votes. Vic Black showed he could be another solid reliever, posting a 2.60 ERA. Carlos Torres is a good long man to have, and can make a spot start when called upon. Josh Edgin was a very capable lefty out of the pen, as was Dana Eveland. But, I would like to see the Mets pursue a guy like Andrew Miller to be their lefty specialist. Putting some more young arms into the bullpen if there’s no room in the rotation is something the Cardinals have done for years, and that should be a model the Mets follow. The closer position is still up for grabs in my opinion, and I actually would like to see Familia in there instead of the erratic Mejia. The bullpen has always been an issue in Queens, but could really be one of their strong points in 2015 with the OODLES of young pitching they have.
Now to the offense. An obvious positive to take away from 2014 was the emergence of Lucas Duda. Tip of the cap to Sandy Alderson for sticking with him over Ike Davis. The guy only finished 3rd in the NL in HRs and 5th in RBIs. Daniel Murphy is a solid 2 hitter who will play almost every day, hit around .300, and hit 35 doubles. Travis d’Arnaud played much, much better after being sent down to AAA. 20 home runs for him is not too much to ask for at all. Curtis Granderson got off to a horrid start, and was really inconsistent at times, but still managed to hit 20 big flies. The new Citi Field dimensions should help him bump those HR totals up. Another player the new dimensions in right center should help is David Wright. Wright played with a hurt shoulder for most of the year, and put up some pretty bad numbers. I don’t think he is done at all though, as some have speculated. He’s finally got some protection in the order, and if healthy, can return to the David Wright of 2012. Another guy you can pencil into the line-up next year is Juan Lagares. He’s the best defensive center fielder in baseball, and has a solid bat too. Now the obvious gaping holes in the Mets lineup is in left field and at shortstop. I don’t think they need a guy who will hit 30 HRs in LF. Those are very hard to come by nowadays, and aside from Nelson Cruz (who the Mets can’t afford), guys like that aren’t available in free agency this winter. A guy who is available is Michael Cuddyer. He’s 36 years old, but won the batting title in 2013. Plus, he’s old buddies with David Wright, so Queens seems to be a possible destination. Shortstop needs to be addressed as well. Ruben Tejada isn’t cutting it anymore. Wilmer Flores has a nice bat, but I don’t think his offense makes up for his lack of defense. If we’ve learned anything from the KC Royals, it’s that defense should not be overlooked. A guy I’d like to see the Mets sign to play SS is Jed Lowrie. He had some injury problems this year, but had 15 HRs, 75 RBIs, and hit .290 in 2013. Pretty much anything would be an upgrade over what is at SS currently.
So if I haven’t already convinced you, I expect the Mets to be in contention for the post season in 2015. They need to make moves to get this team over the hump. Seeing a team like the Royals convinces me even more that the Mets have a shot. The Mets have a better rotation than KC, and we all know pitching is what wins you games in October. That and timely hitting. A few more key additions offensively and I can see this team winning anywhere from 85-90 games in 2015. All you Yankees and Sox fans may laugh at this, but I cannot wait to bathe in your tears when the Mets rattle off 10 straight championships until 2024. The future is finally here Mets fans. It’s time to stop “waiting till next year”, and expect to see a winning team on the field now. But that is very dependent on how this offseason goes. Your move Sandy.