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.