You Read it Here First: Mets Will Win NL East (This Year)
First off, I promise this will not end with the phrase “April Fool.”
I realize that all March baseball stats need to be taken with several grains of salt, or as put best by the late great Ralph Kiner, hope always springs eternal in the Spring. That said, I am (cautiously) optimistic enough from what I have read and observed about our Mets this past month to make this prediction.
Part of my new sunny outlook is due to the rash of injuries the Washington Nationals have experienced (don’t forget they also lost Adam LaRoche to free agency) and part of it is from the on-going ineptitude that is the Miami Marlins. I am also relegating the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies to rebuilding mode, anticipating each will accept their lumps now in the hope of a return to glory before the end of the decade. As Mets fans, we tend to look only at our own team’s warts. Each one of our divisional rivals also have their share of holes, either on the field or in the front office, or both.
Then there are the Mets players themselves: Matt Harvey looks better than ever. Jacob deGrom doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. Yes, these are puff pieces, but Jon Niese’s comments about using his legs more and not relying fully on throwing hard is similar to the type of erudite posts we’ve read on this blog. Behind those three there is a plethora of interesting arms, both young and old.
The bullpen worries me, as the resumes of both Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia are still on the light side and their struggles this spring are very disquieting. I still will take both over the dreck they started with in the bullpen last year and try to find succor in the idea that each is trying out some new approaches. The additions of Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres works on several levels: a pressing need filled, GM Sandy Alderson actually making a trade (two on the same day!) and extra salary taken on. The Blevins deal reminded me a little of the 1984 trade for pitcher Bruce Berenyi. That trade and this one included a trade of a somewhat-regarded prospect in an effort to win now, which was/is the first time in years that the Mets had made a move like that.
I like the batting order. When Daniel Murphy finally returns there is a nice right-left setup to it, one through seven. I saw David Wright’s home run to right center against the Cardinals early in March and it looked like vintage David. I tend to not place too much stock in hitting coaches at this level, but if no less of an authority than Peter Gammons thinks that Kevin Long was one of the best free agent pickups this past offseason and the Mets continue to hit the way they have so far, I might have to change my mind.
The additional salary from Blevins and Torres, the Juan Lagares extension and the rumored one for Lucas Duda does signal that maybe, just maybe, the Wilpon wallet has creaked open a bit further. His public utterances aside, I wonder if the new commissioner had a heart-to-heart with Fred over this.
Maybe the Nationals pull the other hand out from behind their backs next week and deliver a 2014-style beatdown to our heroes next week. Maybe Giancarlo Stanton puts the Fish on his broad shoulders and carries them all the way to October. The Mets overall lack of team speed and suspect defense is a concern. Still, I am hopeful that these past few days and weeks are an indication that the years of self-induced wounds are over and that “The Plan” has gelled, just in time to take advantage of an otherwise-reeling division.