Bright spots and hope as the Mets approach the trade deadline

Amed Rosario and Jacob deGrom

I’m not here to offer hope for the 2017 playoffs. Making up ten games in the standings and jumping over five teams is, technically, a thing that can happen, but I think it’s a foolish thing to aim for.

Instead, I’m looking to see what positives the rest of 2017 may hold for Mets fans as we look forward to contention in 2018, and look to be entertained in the meantime.

Bright Spots

Jacob deGrom

Take out deGrom’s two terrible starts in late spring (when I assume he was hiding an injury or illness, which has always been the case with him in past such stretches) and he’s 11-1, with a 2.45 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, both good for 3rd in the NL. Don’t miss a chance to watch a homegrown ace in his prime. Unlike in his first three years, the Mets’ bats are even supporting him this time around!

Lucas Duda

If we had to name the Alderson era after a player, it would be the Lucas Duda era. The man has played more games as a Met than any other player post-2010. Over that span, he leads the team in walks, homeruns, and RBI. He’s had plenty of struggles, particularly in left field and against lefty pitching, but he’s never complained or made excuses or stopped hustling. The man can also hit the ball an absolute mile when he gets a hold of one. If he is about to be traded, or about to depart as a free agent, Mets fans should take a moment to appreciate him before he’s gone.

Curtis Granderson

Every team’s fan base enjoys having some good people to root for, not just good players. Although we get only the most skewed view of what players are really like, it seems pretty clear that Granderson’s a great guy and great teammate. He would be well within his rights to complain about being forced to the bench in the middle of a red hot streak, but he’s put the team first and refused to create a media distraction, just as always. If he’s entering his last days as a Met, we should root for him that much harder.

Jose Reyes

Jose has already treated us to 17 joyous trips down memory lane with his 11 steals and 6 triples. Even if he shouldn’t be a full-time player going forward, I’m sure there’s more to come. It’s fun to think back to the 2005-2008 teams, and Jose’s enthusiasm can still be infectious.

Hope for the future

Michael Conforto

Michael looks like he has a strong shot to be the best position player to come up through the Mets system since David Wright. At age 24 and with less than 800 MLB ABs under his belt, he’s probably got some improvements left.

Noah Syndergaard

Thor finished eighth in the Cy Young vote in 2016, and there are many reasons to believe he can return to that level in 2018. Maybe we’ll get a taste in September.

Amed Rosario

One of the top five prospects in baseball, Rosario will surely debut in Queens at some point in 2017. Even if his plate discipline is miles away, his defense should be a breath of fresh air.

Dominic Smith

Dom has made steady progress while being young for his level at every stop in the minors. He may not be a difference-maker yet, but he should hold his own at the minimum salary, and we’ll get to watch and see how good he can become.

The starting pitcher lottery

We can’t rely on any one guy besides Thor and deGrom. But we do have a lot of tantalizing options! Odds say that one of these guys will finally turn into a major asset, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens in the second half of 2017. Will Wheeler make an adjustment that allows him to harness his elite stuff? Will Matz find a way to stay healthy and consistent? Will Seth Lugo emerge as a dependable back-end guy who can make batters look bad with his curve? Will Robert Gsellman regain the control he had in 2016? Is there any Matt Harvey left in Matt Harvey? Most of these answers will probably be “no”, but I’m guessing there’s a pleasant surprise buried in there somewhere as well.

The trade deadline prospect lottery

Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, Jerry Blevins, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, and Neil Walker ought to bring back something interesting, right? The way prospect news circulates these days, we shouldn’t have to wait until 2018 before some scouts and pundits are calling one move a bust and another a steal. Who will be the Mets’ best acquisition? A minor league starter who becomes a lights-out reliever? A struggling slugger who just needed new eyes on his swing? A catcher making the transition to third base, or vice versa? Stay tuned!

Anything else?

Am I missing anything? Is there more to like about our (or at least Keith Hernandez‘s) Lovable Metsies?

Or am I trying too hard, and this really is a difficult team to watch?

Sound off in the comments!

David Berg has been following the Mets since 1990, and counts himself as a "die hard fan" -- the agonies have been numerous and arduous, but he's still watching every game he can, determined to "earn" the satisfaction when the Mets eventually win it all. In his non-spare time, David is a designer of graphics, web sites, and games. See his work at Shrike Design
  1. Dan Capwell July 24, 2017 at 1:59 pm
    The brightest spot is that this probably isn’t 1991, 2001 or 2010 again. I say probably. The Mets have too much talent still under contract to be that bad. I have very little optimism that this trade deadline will do anything more than clear out some older veteran contracts and give the braintrust a head start on the 2018 lineup.

    With Familia, Thor and Harvey back by mid August, I would pencil this lineup in everyday:

    Grandy cf
    Rosario ss
    Conforto rf
    Ces rf
    Wilmer 2b
    TJR 3b
    Smith 1b
    TdA c

    With that lineup and the rotation essentially intact, they could end up playing the best ball of the season for the last 6 or so weeks, provided the bullpen doesn’t blow up.

    • Gregg from Hoboken July 25, 2017 at 7:21 am
      I’m inferring that you have moved away from the previous position of skittishness regarding Conforto since you have him here batting third (with Jay Bruce presumably traded).
      • Dan Capwell July 25, 2017 at 12:49 pm
        Just bowing to reality.
    • Victor July 26, 2017 at 4:33 pm
      Dan – not sure how BOTH Conforto and Cespedes will man RF … 😉 … but, I assume that you assume that Bruce, Cabrera, Duda and Walker (but not Grandy or Reyes) will be traded … if so, I would propose the following:

      SS – Rosario
      2B – TJ Rivera
      RF – Conforto
      LF – Cespedes
      3B – Flores
      1B – Smith
      C – TdA/Rene (if he’s not traded away too)
      CF – Granderson/Nimmo

      I also think we have to be realistic and keep our expectations low if Familia, Thor and Harvey return at any point.

      But, I am curious to see what this lineup can do and would actually play prefer to play Nimmo everyday to see what he can do as well … despite his success coming off the bench since he began his major league career.

    • Iz July 28, 2017 at 7:36 am
      Hard to believe anyone would proclaim that a guy couldn’t be an All Star anywhere but the lowest levels of the game, and yet state he would bat third for you on a major league team. Do you want your team to lose?
  2. DaveSchneck July 24, 2017 at 7:22 pm
    Mr. Berg,
    Well done. Perhaps a little too optimistic, but in an otherwise dreadful season (one on the worst in team history given the gap between performance and expectation), a glass half full view is certainly welcome.

    I agree with Dan above that it is time to get a good look at Rosario and Smith. The assumption in that line up is that Bruce, Duda, Cabrera, and Walker are dealt. For my 2 cents on the 2018 auditions, I’d like to see Reyes at 2B everyday. If Walker is not dealt, I’d like to see him at 3B every day. I’d like to see Conforto in CF every day but i can live with him in RF if Bruce is dealt and the decision is to give Conforto RF in 2018. I know what TJ and Wilmer are…strong bench players that can step in when injury/performance dictates.

    I also agree with Dan in that the outlook may not be as bleak as some of the down years he mentioned above, but that is possible. My take is that they still need to focus on pitching this offseason. The infield D should be much better given the projected assets currently on the team. I can’t see them putting together lineup close to the Nats top 6, so it will need to be deep deep deep pitching, stronger defense, and hopefully some better health.

    • Victor July 26, 2017 at 4:40 pm
      I actually wouldn’t mind bringing back Reyes … BUT only as a utility/bench guy for SS/2B/3B.

      If Walker is not dealt by 7/31, he may very well get a lot of playing time at 3B simply to showcase him for any August waiver trade.

      I’d prefer Conforto play RF and Lagares start in CF in 2018 BUT that would contingent on the Mets getting bona fide clutch hitters and strong defensive replacements at 3B and C. I’m fine with Flores at 1B and TJ at 2B as I think they can be successful everyday players despite their defensive limitations which would be more masked at those positions.

      BUT, I would definitely agree that the lineup won’t matter much if their rotation doesn’t pan out by at least 60% of what was hoped for this year AND the bullpen isn’t re-constructed to be close to what the Yankees had in Betances-Miller-Chapman in 2016.

  3. Jimmy Deigh July 25, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Half the Bright Spots are pure nostalgia and half the Hope for the Future have never taken a major league hack.

    I have been following my beloved Mets since 1967 and all I ask of them is to be entertaining. You know, stuff like Ron Hodges breaking Craig Swan’s rib trying to catch Raines stealing in Montreal in 1981. But for the deGrominator, they have been very tough to watch this year.

    Very disappointing and publicly humiliating to say you’re a Met fan after this years hype.

    • Victor July 26, 2017 at 4:17 pm
      Disappointing indeed, but I would add that both Conforto and Bruce have been (for the most part) a joy to watch as well.
  4. Victor July 26, 2017 at 4:26 pm
    Not sure I would agree on the BRIGHT SPOTS and HOPE FOR THE FUTURE … specifically:

    BRIGHT SPOTS would be – deGrom, yes, but also (instead of Duda, Granderson and Reyes) Bruce, Conforto … and, to a lesser extent, Reed, Blevins, TJ Rivera and Flores. It’s unfortunate that Reed and Bruce may be gone by the end of the month.

    As for HOPE(S) FOR THE FUTURE … yes to all individuals named except Smith … I’m not sold on him yet. The STARTING PITCHER LOTTERY and the TRADE DEADLINE PROSPECT LOTTERY are just that … shots in the dark!

  5. Dan B July 27, 2017 at 1:46 pm
    That the Mets should be sellers is well documented and the players on the block are well known. I am surprised nobody talks about the Mets could also be buyers. For one thing, we all have hope for next year but I still think they could upgrade at center, second, third, and/or catcher. Also I keep reading how the market for hitters is weak (implying the Mets won’t get much for Duda, et al). Let’s take advantage and acquire help for next year now.
    • Victor July 31, 2017 at 9:45 am
      Well … I guess Ramos was a start … BUT, I know nothing about the low level prospects they gave up!