Mets 2014 Season Preview . . . 14 Reasons to Feel Hopeful

0

All right, ready? Rally caps on!

Last year, Mike and I did a season preview while wearing rose-colored glasses. Frankly, it was the only way we could come up with a positive narrative for the upcoming season, which filled us with dread. As I recall, some of our hopes were pinned on Johan Santana bouncing back. And so on.

This season, it’s not nearly so hard to come up with an optimistic take on the 2014 season. Not that things won’t go wrong. They surely will, they always do, for every team.

For example: I have serious concerns about the bullpen, about Ike Davis, about Ruben Tejada, about Chris Young, and about the durability of Bartolo Colon. That’s a lot of failure from Sandy Anderson on that list, who did not have a great winter.

ON THE POSITIVE SIDE, SOME GOOD STRUGGLES . . . 

image1

ZACK WHEELER is going to endure growing pains, for stretches he’s going to remind of us of Mike Pelfrey with his wildness and inability to put away batters. But it will be okay.

TRAVIS D’ARNAUD is not going to arrive fully-formed, like Venus riding in on the half-shell.

CURTIS GRANDERSON may not replicate Marlon Byrd’s 2013 season, but will still be worth every penny.

There may even be times when we look over at banged-up, 31-year-old DAVID WRIGHT and wonder about the efficacy of that 8-year-deal. But that’s okay. He’s David Wright and we’re lucky to have him on our team. 

That said, I am optimistic.

Even without drinking the Kool-Aid.

Not even a sip.

The biggest reason is that for the first time in years, there’s actually room for failure. Terrible things can happen, guys can unexpectedly get hurt or falter badly, and the New York Mets have enough resources to fill in and recover. That’s something new. There’s actually real depth, not just warm bodies, on the Triple-A roster. Flores and deGrom, den Dekker and Montero, Puello and Black, etc.

The 2014 Mets don’t need everything to go right. Just for, you know, some things to go right. That’s something new right there.

HERE’S 14 THINGS THAT REALISTICALLY COULD GO WELL IN 2014 (And I think we’ll all happy if only 9.5 of them come true):

1) DAVID WRIGHT stays healthy and puts together a full season as arguably the top third-basemen in baseball. David benefits all season long by having Curtis Granderson hitting behind him in the lineup. The load is visibly lightened from his shoulders and Wright produces in the way in which we know he’s capable.

2) ZACK WHEELER gives the Mets a full season, building upon a successful rookie year.

mets-marlins-spring-basbeball

3) BARTOLO COLON stays (relatively) healthy and shows that the big man really does know how to pitch. He throws strikes, gets guys out, and best of all — he’s fun to watch. There’s something joyful to the guy, and he becomes a fan favorite. He makes us smile.

4) JEURYS FAMILIA emerges as a bona-fide force in the bullpen, a guy who can be called on to shut the door. At times he’s dominant, something the Mets have not had in the 7th-8th inning for years.

5) BOBBY PARNELL continues on his path as a quality closer, a more confident pitcher who knows his job, knows his role, and performs it capably. He’s the rock.

6) CURTIS GRANDERSON hits the ground running, plays inspired baseball, and provides the leadership this team so desperately needs.

7) DILLON GEE displays craft, poise, moxie, and determination all season long. That is, all the maturity and drive we wish we saw in Jonathan Niese. Gee serves as an easy guy to respect and admire on a staff loaded with more talented arms.

8) CHRIS YOUNG reestablishes himself as a good baseball player. Fully healthy, newly motivated, he once again puts his multiple tools on display — plays great defense, hits for power, runs the bases. The best left fielder the Mets have had since BB (Before Bay).

9) TRAVIS D’ARAUD struggles, flounders, slumps and fights through it, emerging as one of the top ten catchers in major league baseball. The defense is solid all season long.

10) JUAN LAGARES hits just enough to stay on the field and on a near-daily basis earns his keep by centering the best outfield defense in baseball: a key to a winning team at Citi Field. Looking for a .700 OPS. A pinch more plate discipline, a touch more gap power.

image

11) JENRRY MEJIA proves to be a revelation, the most talented, electric arm in the rotation. Best of all, he stays healthy.

12) NOAH SYNDERGAARD steps in this July, as Mejia’s IP count reaches its limit. The hype is real, the kid can throw, giving the team a jolt of lightning and hope as they enter the second half of the season.

13) RAFAEL MONTERO, almost an afterthought, is called on when a starter goes down and provides solid support. He establishes himself as a quality ML pitcher — and finds a role in the bullpen. Most importantly: He makes the team, graduates from the minor leagues. One more asset to the 25-man roster.

14) DAISUKE MATSUZAKA, the healthiest he’s been in years, pitches capably for the Mets until July.

AND NOW, A FEW CAUTIONARY NOTES FROM THE LAND OF LOW EXPECTATIONS . . .

IKE DAVIS remains Ike Davis, an erratic mess with eye-popping power. He’s awful and finally gets sent away.

LUCAS DUDA plays and is only himself; he does not transcend his track record, is not the answer moving forward, but isn’t a disaster as the LH-half of a platoon.

RUBEN TEJADA stabilizes his play and yet still proves to be one of the worst overall shortstops in baseball. Just. Not. Very. Good. It is a weakness all season long.

JONATHAN NIESE’S arm falls off. So does SCOTT RICE’S. Sandy scribbles a note to himself: “Maybe left-handers are a good idea after all?”

THE BULLPEN overall represents yet another failure for Sandy Alderson, who did not do enough to address it. There will be some bright spots, future building blocks, but also some heartbreaking loses during the season, preventing the team to ever get on a really good roll. Reminder: Hope isn’t a plan!

OVERALL . . .

I’m looking forward to it!

Look, a thought for another day will be my nagging concern that this management team is not good at getting the little things right. For four years, Sandy Alderson has operated a team where the little things haven’t mattered. “We suck, who gives a shit about the back-up shortstop!” But soon, this year maybe, the little things will begin to take on new significance. Not addressing 1B, SS, and the Bullpen — the failures to make a trade, a transaction, anything — are likely going to become features in the narrative of a season that provides hope, but falls short. We’re going to look at a lost opportunity and wonder why. Fortunately, the NL East is a mess right now. The Marlins not only haven’t turned the corner, they haven’t found the corner. Hell, they aren’t even looking for it. The Phillies are lousy, for now. The Braves might have serious problems with injuries to their starting pitching and everyone named Upton; there are dents to that well-oiled machine. That’s 54 games in the Mets schedule right there . . . and an outside chance at second place.

140326142249-new-york-mets-curtis-granderson-david-wright-single-image-cut

If I had to name a single key to the season, it would be Chris Young, largely because of the extremes of his past performance. He’s less predictable than, say, Murphy or Granderson or Wright. If Chris Young plays well, it could be a huge boost to the team. A second key would be  Travis d’Arnaud. Both guys could be very good, or almost complete busts. I have ideas on that. Concepts, thoughts, guesses. But I don’t know. That’s the beauty of the regular season. We get to find out.

(Okay, I did drink a little of Kool-Aid after all. Hiccup!)

 

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

11 comments

  1. I think the key for this team is can they piecemeal together a pitching staff for a year, starters and bullpen they way they were able to in 1997 and 1998.

    Lots of fans want to get very glow happy about Harvey (Blackhawk Down) Wheeler (Next?) Syndergaard (Not Off the Pad) and comp it back to the emergence of the staff in 1983 and 1984. I simply don’t see the latter, that is way too lofty. To me it is do you have enough to scrape by, especially with the innings limits, which worked so famously well in insuring Harvey did not get hurt.

    They can be good this year, but I don’t yet see the right parts. I don’t see how a team wins when the only real leadoff hitter in their lineup is likely going to bat fourth.

    • Meanwhile, the oft-injured Jenrry Mejia might miss his start because of a bunion. Some guys have all the luck.

      • Patrick Boegel says:

        I literally almost dropped my head on the desk when I saw that blog title run across my newsfeed.

        They will probably put him in a boot!

        I guess just go with Gee, Wheeler, Niese, Colon, Matsuzaka and be done with it already. Have Mejia get ready in Sin CIty with Montero and delayed by Cash Considerations.

        Three big things happen, this can be a year that the Mets fans did not expect. And they are not exactly easy either…

        1. Ike Davis rises like a Phoenix from the obscure tumult of 2011-2013.

        2. Daniel Murphy puts it together finally feeling like he proved he belongs and puts up a year like 2011.

        3. Travis d’Arnaud spring struggles are a mirage and he hits the ground running when the bell rings.

        If those things happen with Wright and Granderson doing David and Curtis things, then the Mets will have a credible offense to support a pitching staff and bullpen that will likely be streaky.

        If the Mets can find themselves say 45-40 ish by the time the all-star break arrives, the front office better have the stomach to survey the landscape and find a dynamic top of the order hitter to slot into the outfield or shortstop.

        That is my ray of sunshine. Things could break right, but they better not pick their nose and lie about action come July if this team has a shot at strengthening itself.

        They finish July post all-star break with 13 games that if they are playing good baseball ahead of the break, bode well for them. August is a gauntlet however on the flipside.

  2. IB says:

    Great post! As you say, there’s actually room for failure for the 1st time in years.

    Go Mets!

  3. Eraff says:

    78-83 wins…. although the opening roster moves tell you that winning and urgency have not yet touched the front office.

  4. Mack Ade says:

    a LITTLE kool aid ????

  5. Raff says:

    I just hope that they do well enough to play meaningful games in June ;-)

  6. dave says:

    i see dillon gee’s stock rising in the rotation, because though his arm mightn’t be as valuable as those of his mates, he’s got a more valuable head than most of them, and he’ll make adjustments rather than ollie perez-it out there when things go south.

  7. Michael Geus says:

    One thing to forget worrying about is a strong finish. This is not a group who builds off of that as every spring brings them new concerns over 2020 and beyond to offset any logical urgency.

    What the Mets need badly is a solid start. Hang around for a few months and pressure will rise to promote some of our prospects and actually put winning on the agenda. Without that start all the usual excuses will pop up to further delay seeing players such as Montero, Flores, and especially Syndergaard. Only good can come from that. If they are as good as the Mets like to advertise they can help make 2014 a surprisingly good season. And if they are not we will know and not waste another offseason wishing and hoping on these players.

  8. Reese Kaplan says:

    Kool-Aid goes better with vodka…or truer to my adopted southwest Texas roots, with tequila. I can see the team improving once they get over their infatuation with Eric Young and find a way to get Wilmer Flores into the lineup (hopefully to replace Ruben Tejada — a double win in my book).

    I had a very different take today on the state of the Mets:

    http://macksmets.blogspot.com/2014/03/reese-kaplan-mets-where-new-ideas-come.html?showComment=1396022583695#c3392202835832651253

Leave a Reply

Email
Print