The New York Mets. They don’t get a lot of press these days, and for good reason. They stink. However, things are taking a turn in the big apple, and as soon as next year, you may find yourself trying to predict just how far the Mets will go in the postseason.
It’s been a long time since the New York Mets fans have had something to be really excited about. In fact, this catch in the 2006 NLCS may have been it:
They ultimately lost that game to the Cardinals, and followed that up by suffering a monumental collapse in the 2007 regular season (where they lost 12 of their final 17 games and missed the playoffs). That’s something most Mets fans probably want to forget, along with the name Tom Glavine.
In the years to follow, the Flushing faithful would have to suffer through many coaching changes, including manager switches from Willie Randolph to Jerry Manuel to current manager Terry Collins. The payroll was also absolutely bogged down with loaded contracts going to the likes of Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and Jason Bay to name a few. During a time when the Mets needed to either buy out their bad contracts or sign some more talent, they were unable to because of the fact that ownership was involved in the infamous Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. It was unclear how much money the Wilpons would have to repay the victims, which naturally made them trigger-shy when it came to spending on the team’s payroll.
In 2010 the Mets ownership decided it was time for a new direction and fired general manager Omar Minaya. John Ricco finished the year on an interim basis, but the Mets ultimately decided to bring in Sandy Alderson to right the sinking ship. Alderson previously had stints with Oakland, San Diego and a position in the commissioner’s office. Alderson’s goal was simple: get rid of the bad contracts and put the Mets in a position to win again.
Alderson’s first big trade came in July of 2011 when he traded outfielder Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants for pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. Wheeler was very highly regarded and it was clear that Alderson was building for the future. In 2012 some of the notable moves included cutting ties with Jason Bay, and signing David Wright to an 8-year contract. The most notable however, was Alderson’s trade of Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to the Blue Jays in exchange for Travis d’Arnaud, John Buck, Noah Syndergaard and Wuilmer Becerra.
Fast-forward to the present day and the Mets sit in third place in the NL East, 17.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves. They are also 12 games back of the second wild card spot. The Mets won’t see the post-season in 2013, but that was never a realistic goal to begin with. The real goal was always 2014. And if the Mets are willing to lay down some money, they will no doubt be playoff contenders next year.
The Mets rotation next year will be one of the best in the bigs. Led by All-Star starter Matt Harvey, the Mets will trot out Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and perhaps even Noah Syndergaard. That’s a top 4 that any team would have a hard time matching up with.
Another plus, the Mets seem to have found their closer in Bobby Parnell, making the 9th inning all but a lock.
It seems as if the Mets are going to give Ike Davis another crack at first base, even after an abysmal 2013. Daniel Murphy will continue to hold down second base, and the captain David Wright will handle the hot corner. The real problem for the Mets’ infield lies at shortstop. Ruben Tejada hasn’t worked out the way they wanted to, and Omar Quintanilla doesn’t look like the answer either. There is really nothing to get excited about with the potential free agent class, but if the Mets really are willing to spend, is it possible they make a deal to bring back a beloved homegrown Met? You’d have to imagine the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind dealing Jose Reyes, and if the price is right, his former team may make the most sense. With d’Arnaud having already slipped into the starting catching role, shortstop remains the only uncertainty.
This is clearly the all around biggest concern for the Mets. While Marlon Byrd has been a revelation this year for the team, it’s not realistic to think he can replicate these numbers next year. He should undoubtedly be brought back, but it’s clear the Mets need a big bat in their outfield. Curtis Granderson could make sense for the team, but with the prospects the Mets have, a trade may be the best way to go.
After roughly 6 years of losing, it’s time for the Mets fans to get excited. The NL East is in complete turmoil, with the Braves being the only team that has lived up to expectations this year. There is absolutely no reason that a team with this rotation can’t at least be contending for a Wild Card spot in 2014 and the years to follow. It’s ok Mets fans, you can come out now, things are finally looking up.
Eric Cooper is an MLB and NFL writer for TJRSports. When not watching sports he enjoys spending time with his wife, son and dog. He also believes that September and October are truly the best two months of the year for obvious reasons. You can follow him on Twitter @Eric_TJRSports