The Century Mark?

Baseball is a funny game.

Less than two years ago, I wrote this post that predicted the end of the NY Mets franchise. Now incredibly, I am beginning to wonder how they could possibly not win 100 games in 2016.

The team has sandwiched a memorable post season between a Trade Deadline for the Ages and an Offseason for the Ages, the results being a team that, on paper at least, is probably better than last year’s World Series team and, the argument could be made, as deep as those teams that won 408 games between 1985 and 1988. Yes, I went there.

So, as the rest of Bethlehem hunkers down during Winter Storm Jonas (when did they start naming snowstorms?) my thoughts are turning to blue skies, green grass, milder weather and 100 regular season wins. There is much to support this notion. While I have been on an optimistic bent since the beginning of last year, I’ll wager that the events of the last 72 or so hours have propelled more than just my optimism. Expect this to be merely the first in a series of posts/articles with the same sentiment. There are plenty of good reasons why.

The 2016 Mets will begin Spring Training with perhaps 23 spots on the OD roster sown up. That’s nothing new, but unlike the not too distant past when the likely roster included names like Baxter, Gee, Nickeas, Quintanilla or Bautista, a collection of AAAA roster filler complimented by washed up (although we didn’t know it) names like Bay or Santana or Byrdak, this team has names that not only have a bright future, but a present that looks really good as well. The recent signings of Antonio Bastardo and most importantly, Yoenis Cespedes means that players such as Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Conforto and Hansel Robles aren’t being asked to fill shoes that might still be too big for them. The result is a long, deep lineup, a bench that includes several major leaguers (a drastic departure from even 6 months ago) and a reliable bullpen that should protect the leads the starters give them. Check out Bastardo’s numbers against Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman. And just in case, there are a few soon-to-be major league ready players in AAA that can either fill a temporary gap, or be traded for help.

And…it appears that at least a half dozen National League teams are already packing it in. The Mets have 19 games against Altanta and Philadelphia, seven against the Brewers and the Rockies and six against Cincinnati. They get the AL Central this year, so in addition to the Royals, they get the Tigers and the White Sox, although he former may be much improved. They feasted on bad teams and bad pitching last year and appear poised to do more damage again this year. Plus, there must be something dreadfully wrong in that National’s clubhouse.

Maybe it’s the record snowfall or the cabin fever, but I can’t believe I just typed those last five paragraphs! Like the rest of the Mets Today staff, I tend to take an iconoclastic view of the team’s doings, so I probably shouldn’t be shocked if this team stumbles and ends up as just another disappointment. Injuries, especially to young arms, would definitely short circuit this expected romp to the division title. Miami could get Cy Young and MVP seasons from Fernandez and Giancarlo; or maybe Daniel Murphy helps Harper and Jonathan Papelbon find religion and the Nats Kumbaya their way to the NL East crown.

Because after all,baseball is a funny game.

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Manager in the Bulk Materials Handling industry. He lives in Bethlehem PA with his wife and son, neither of whom fully get his obsession with the Mets.
  1. argonbunnies January 25, 2016 at 12:37 am
    I love it, Dan!

    I agree with you on about half of these points. Overall, I agree that the Mets are in good shape.

    I also think the Wilpons deserve credit. Or, at least they deserve an admission of error from me — I thought it most likely that the 2016 payroll would resemble the 2015 payroll. I didn’t think ownership would step up. But they did! I think we fans still have grounds to complain that a biggest-market team in an ideal win-now window is merely middle of the payroll pack rather than near the top, but even so, I think we’re in better shape than Pirates fans.

    I completely agree about the deep lineup, and the abundance of tanking NL opponents. I probably agree about the improved bench too, although I do think there’s still some uncertainty, and I wonder if Lagares or De Aza gets traded or Tejada gets released.

    I disagree about the AL Central, though. Every team there has dramatically improved over the last two years. There are no easy marks there. The Royals, Tigers, and Indians could easily win 90+, and while the Twins and White Sox could suck, they could also be quite good.

    As for the bullpen, I am not distressed, but not impressed either. I don’t think these Mets enjoy any particular immunity to the seasonal volatility most relievers experience. Our one guy we might expect to be elite every year, Familia, just threw 93 innings in 2015, so I’m holding my breath.

    The Nats have talent. Williams is gone, Baker is in. I find it highly unlikely that clubhouse dysfunction is going to put more than a small dent in their win total. If Rendon and Strasburg can stay healthy and the 8th inning guys blow fewer leads, it’s pretty easy to imagine 90 wins from Washington. And, unlike last year’s stretch, some of those will probably come against the Mets.

    My guess would be that some things go wrong and some things go right and the Mets win 91 games. That’s a prediction I’m happy to make, though, after the last few years of needing EVERYTHING to go right to get to that total.

  2. DaveSchneck January 25, 2016 at 7:50 pm
    I second AB’s opening salvo…if you can get optimistic about the Mets right now, it’s time for another hobby.

    That said, I try to go by the old saying that nothing is every as bad as it seems, or as good as it seems. And, I look no further than the 2015 Washington Nats. Even prior tot he Cespedes move, I was on board for each of this winter’s acquisitions. Cespedes’ bat obviously improves the team for 2016 and adds a few wins. 100 wins is still unlikely. We still are dependent on a 35 year leadoff hitter, a 3B with a degenerative spine, and a one-closer bullpen. Yes, picky maybe, but still some concerns. The starters are lights out, the depth of the lineup and bench is very goods, and there are some strong positional reserves at AAA. Overall, Alderson has them well-positioned for a sustained winning run, but as your final sentence states, baseball is a funny game. Anyhow, after some very disappointing times, it is a great time to be a Met fan.

  3. Colin January 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Lets go get that ring. The unfinished business is now ours!

  4. DanB February 1, 2016 at 3:09 pm
    Dan, your comments about teams tanking makes me wonder if a team needs to bottom out aka Houston and the Mets in order to build a team. And even if they don’t have to tank, enough teams seem to be taking that strategy to make it worth asking is this good for baseball? Does anyone enjoy when a 70 win team plays your favorite team? The removal of PEDs and amphetamines has certainly lowered the impact of FAs. Rebuilding through the draft is no longer just a financial requirement but a strategical one. What do people think, does a team need to bottom out to rebuild? Personally I hope not.
    • DaveSchneck February 6, 2016 at 10:09 pm
      Whether to “bottom out” or not is an interesting question, and as the Nationals and Astros have shown that it is quite possible to go from horrible to playoff caliber rather quickly by stacking some #1 overall picks. I would disagree that the Mets bottomed out, but that term is relative. While is was a rough few years, the worst team under Collins had 74 wins, and none of the teams were buried at the all-star break. The Nats and Astros were brutal 100 loss teams from the get go, fielding essentially minor league teams for a couple of seasons. I don’t think any big market team would attempt that approach. Philly may be close to it, but they at least had a World Series winner and strong team for several years before the roof caved in.

      Since day 1, Alderson has stated that the team is looking to build an organization that sustains winning. Even after they signed Cespedes, he said that while they acknowledge the current “window”, they are still looking to sustain winning beyond the control years of the current pitching phenoms. Baseball, as Dan C. says, is a funny game, and while they are now stacked, there is no guarantee of a successful 2016 season for the Mets. It will be very interesting to see the future moves they make to sustain a top notch team. Deal Harvey after 2016? Extend Cespedes? Let Walker walk? Trade Duda? Focus the next few drafts on pitching again? Push the payroll to $200M?