Optimistic Mets Post

Hope springs eternal. Therefore, here is the most optimistic post you will read in 2013 at MetsToday.

After two days of spring training baseball games, the Mets are undefeated (though, their record does include a tie). So while we are giddy with hope and riding high on the Mets’ success, let’s list some of the most optimistic predictions being thrown around by blue-and-orange bleeding Mets fans.

Matt Harvey will continue pitching exactly like he did in his first ten starts as a big leaguer, and opponents won’t make adjustments. As a result, he’s going to win somewhere between 16 and 18 games, emerging as the Mets’ ace by the end of the season.

Zack Wheeler will reluctantly be left behind when camp breaks in Port St. Lucie, but he’ll be with the big club by June. Posting a 11-2 record, 2.25 ERA, and 12 K/9 rate, he and Harvey will pitch the Miracle Mets into the Wild Card.

Similarly, Travis d’Arnaud arrives during the same week as Wheeler, and by the end of September he’ll have Rookie of the Year locked up, based on a .320 AVG, 17 HR, and 85 RBI in only 100 games. His clutch hitting, leadership, and ability to handle the pitching staff draws comparisons to Buster Posey.

Lucas Duda discovers the awesome power everyone has been predicting, and has a monster, breakout year: 38 homeruns, .290 AVG., and .890 OPS that includes 85 walks.

Ike Davis starts 2013 the way he finished 2012, and hits more homers than anyone in baseball by mid-July, making the All-Star team and winning Home Run Derby in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Citi Field. He finishes the year with 47 homeruns, shattering the Mets single-season record.

With the slugging Davis and Duda protecting him in the lineup, David Wright has the best year of his career: .338 AVG with 35 HR and 125 RBI. If not for the monster years of the aforementioned lefty sluggers, Wright might have won the Triple Crown.

Pitching for a new contract, a motivated Johan Santana uses guile and grace to win 14 games, including clutch wins down the stretch that push the Mets into the Wild Card. His late-season performance is compared to that of Catfish Hunter in 1978.

Jonathon Niese has the breakout year everyone has been waiting for; he wins 18 games and is in the Cy Young conversation.

Now comfortable at 2B, Daniel Murphy relaxes at the plate and fights teammate Wright for the batting crown. The race goes to the final game of the season, and Murphy finishes at .336. He also shows some pop, putting 17 balls over the fence and hitting 52 doubles.

After rotating several men in center field and the leadoff spot, manager Terry Collins (who wins Manager of the Year) finally settles on the hard-nosed, hustling fan favorite Collin Cowgill as his fairly regular centerfielder, platooning him with veteran Marlon Byrd. Cowgill responds with a scrappy performance that reminds many of Lenny Dykstra‘s rookie season; in fact, the dynamic duo of Cowgill and Byrd sparks numerous newspaper articles and blog posts comparing them to Dykstra and Mookie Wilson.

Very quietly, Ruben Tejada assumes the role of circa 1986 Rafael Santana: steady defense, a .280 average that’s chock full of clutch hits, and a tough out in front of the pitcher.

If Tejada is the quiet man in the lineup, Dillon Gee is the quiet man in the starting rotation. The recipient of tough luck most of the year, he goes only 12-10 despite a sparkling 3.65 ERA. Key to his performance is pitching into the seventh inning in all but four of his 32 starts.

Shaun Marcum proves healthy and keeps batters off-balance with his signature junk. He finishes 13-8 and tosses 198 innings. Had he thrown just two more frames, the entire Mets starting rotation would have reached the 200 mark. Still, it’s the first time four Mets starters pitch 200 or more innings since 1986.

With Frankie Francisco struggling with elbow issues, Bobby Parnell takes over the closer role in early May and doesn’t look back. Riding behind his triple-digit heat and a now-mature knuckle-curve, Parnell stymies hitters all season, striking out 13 batters per nine innings and saving 42 games.

Left field — like center field — is like a game of musical chairs for most of the first half. Eventually, though, Mike Baxter emerges as “Mr. Steady” and bats a respectable .285 with 8 homers and 45 RBI in 335 plate appearances. In late July, Wilmer Flores — who has been tearing it up in AAA — is brought up and starts against lefthanders. Flores is not much of a factor until the waning weeks of September, when he suddenly gets hot and swats four home runs in the final week of the season. Comparisons to Miguel Cabrera ensue.

OK, I think that’s it. Surely I missed something, or someone, or possibly filled in a Baxter or Cowgill when it should’ve been a Valdespin or Nieuwenhuis. But hey, we’re looking into a crystal ball that doesn’t exist, so I’m allowed to make a few mistakes. Please use the comments to correct me and/or fill in the gaps I missed.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. meticated February 25, 2013 at 7:22 am
    pass the bhong mate…nothing like the hydro ehhhhh
  2. AV February 25, 2013 at 8:10 am
    Other than wondering how two right-handed hitters in Cowgill and Byrd would form a platoon, I would hope all the other stuff comes true.
    • quinn February 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm
      Also Duda is in LF so it’d be Baxter in RF
      • Joe Janish February 25, 2013 at 11:17 pm
        Left field, right field … gee whiz, it’s all fantasy here, don’t I get ANY poetic license?

        Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

    • Joe Janish February 25, 2013 at 11:16 pm
      AV – Clearly you can’t think out of the box. Why does a platoon have to consist of opposite-handed hitters? 2013 Manager of the Year Terry Collins will institute a new kind of platoon: opposite-handed fielders. Byrd throws righthanded, Cowgill throws lefthanded. Which one plays center field depends on who is pitching for the Mets — if it’s Niese or Santana, Cowgill (with the glove on his right hand) plays. When Marcum, Gee, or Harvey are on the mound, it’s Byrd (or possibly Nieuwenhuis). Duh.

      ;-)

  3. Izzy February 25, 2013 at 9:39 am
    You missed; After winning manager of the year, Sandy Alderson informs Colins that his services are no longer required and he hires Backman in the latest cost cutting move, as Backman, signs a deal for manager minimum.
  4. DaveSchneck February 25, 2013 at 9:43 am
    Joe,
    Please check your blog security; it looks like someone hacked your site and posted under your name.
  5. Dan B February 25, 2013 at 10:48 am
    Just curious…who exactly was getting on base in front of David Wright for him to have 125 RBIs? If he hits 35 hrs, he might end up with 50 RBIs.
  6. booboo February 25, 2013 at 11:57 am
    Wild Card? That’s a team with the best record in baseball.
  7. norme February 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm
    It’s so rare that Joe Janish does “optimistic” that we should frame this column.

    It’s good to read someone giving the under-appreciated and over-achieving Rafael Santana his due.

    Now, Joe, let’s get back to the real world.

  8. Mike G February 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm
    I can think of few things that would make me happier than the realization of this post. One can dream…
  9. Rob T February 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm
    I know it’s all a pipe dream, but today’s column definitely brought a smile to my face. There’s nothing wrong with optimism and hope – it’s all we usually have as Mets fans.
  10. Stevem A February 25, 2013 at 3:41 pm
    The team you just described is essentially the 2006 Mets in hitting with better pitching. That is 103 wins.
  11. Andrew February 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm
    Half of those things could happen and they’d win the division. Fun to indulge in a daydream though.
  12. Joe February 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm
    Reality: a form of some of these, within more likely parameters, occur and we will be closer to the Mets having winning ball, and the steps made for this year as a whole will look decent, all things considered.
  13. Dan B February 25, 2013 at 6:45 pm
    Maybe I have been too harsh on the Met ownership. Sure, they mismanaged the team in the past — balancing their yearly budget using Madoff money and financing SNY and Citi Field with what is essentially bad balloon mortgages. But that is water under the bridge. In the spirit of Joe’s original post, maybe something good is coming. Maybe, after using all that money saved from punting on the last three seasons (and 2013 and probally 2014), the Wilpons are able to pay down debt. Maybe they are in the position to spend even more money starting in 2015 then in previous years since their monthly nut is lower. With a stellar GM squad in place, this new fire hose of money every year will be spent less foolishly. Money will be invested in the farm system on both signing prospects and hiring top scouts and managers. Our AAA team will no longer be nomads. On the major league level, quality free agents will be signed to fill in the gaps while leaving room to add that last piece at the trading deadline. Contracts will no longer be backloaded but instead reflect the true current worth of a player. Finally, the fans — and even Joe Janish — will be proud to say, “I am a Met fan” again. We just have to forget that five years of baseball was ripped from our orange and blue bleeding hearts.
  14. argonbunnies February 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm
    Boo. Here I was hoping for some creative optimism to make me believe. Instead it’s pure gonzo fantasy. Here, Joe, let me fill in a few parts you forgot:

    Josh Edgin strikes out every lefty he faces all year. Ryan Howard never even makes contact against him.

    Justin Turner sets a new record for pinch-hit RBIs with 50.

    John Buck conveys a secret scouting report on the Marlins, who all tip pitches, causing the Mets to go 19-0 against the Fish.

    Bobby Parnell’s beard shoots LASERS.

    Mister Met rides a T-Rex onto the field during All-Star festivities.

    In interleague play, David Wright hits a line drive so hard that it goes between Jeter’s legs before Captain Clutch can react. Duda then hits a Mariano Rivera cutter THROUGH the scoreboard. After the game, both Yankee legends tearfully admit they don’t have what it takes anymore, and retire. Some Steinbrenner calls them quitters and the team implodes.

    Hey, Pat Burrell and Chipper Jones are retired, who else is left to hate? Gotta be the Yanks. Oh, right:

    A Mets reliever picks Jimmy Rollins off second, and he injures himself sliding in and misses a month. Oh wait, that already happened in 2008.