I get this weird feeling every time baseball season comes around. I absolutely love baseball, and rooting for the Mets is ingrained deep in my bones. The looming potential to ever win a championship has left me confused about my feelings. There’s nothing I want more, but I also feel like it’ll probably never happen, but then again there’s a good core of players now where it could happen, but at the same time I know better than to have any big expectations. It’s a clusterfuck of emotions this time of year. Every fiber of my being knows that the Mets will end up disappointing me. And so I sit here still anxious, excited, and apprehensive about baseball season. Gun to head, one word to describe my expectations for the 2017 Mets: tempered.
The 2016 Mets were faced with more injuries and obstacles than usual. That’s baseball, Suzyn. But it certainly seemed like everything was falling apart multiple times. And yet they were able to string enough W’s together to make the playoffs. They ran into the Madison Bumgarner buzzsaw and had their throats slashed by Conor Fuckin Gillaspie. It was a rollercoaster season that turned out better than it should have in all honesty. But overall the Mets have had great success over the last two years. It’s hard for me to imagine a good year happening again, for the third straight year. They have some great pieces, and if things break the right way, the Mets probably could win it all, but forgive me for not getting my hopes up.
The pitching is what will make or break this Mets team, as it does many other teams. They’ve put most of their chips in the pitching basket to this point. Noah Syndergaard is one of the best arms in the game, and the ceiling is incredibly high for Thor this year. DeGrom looks great coming back from elbow surgery, and he could very well be the #1 guy as the season plays out. But elbow surgery is terrifying as is the rehab process. Matt Harvey is also recovering from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome (only the Mets). In my opinion, we’re never going to see the Dark Knight Matt Harvey that we were expecting to witness year after year. He’s on a short leash in terms of having my support, and I know I’m not the only one who’s grown tired of him in some capacity. Zack Wheeler is finally back after almost two full years. Fans are very excited, but I’m expecting very little from him; I hope I’m wrong. Steven Matz is already hurt. Here we go again. The kid can’t stay healthy and it’s a real fucking problem. If he can get healthy and stay healthy, he’ll be a major piece. But he’s shut down now for three weeks minimum. That means three months if not more. I’d bet he won’t throw a pitch this season. There’s approximately a 0.002% chance we’ll ever see the big 5 pitch in sequence (Syndergaard, DeGrom, Harvey, Matz, Wheeler). With that said, we do have a few fall back options in Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. Based on what we’ve seen from them both, they’re more than capable of filling in when necessary and excelling in that role.
Looking at the offense, there’s only one sure thing and that’s a large Cuban man named Yoenis Cespedes. The rest of the outfield consists of an aging Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce who has yet to prove he’s got the chops to handle the New York lights, Michael Conforto who has been inconsistent to put it mildly, and Juan Lagares who can’t hit or stay healthy despite his defensive prowess. The starting catcher can’t do anything that a catcher is supposed to do; Travis d’Arnaud can’t hit, and he can’t throw out a runner to save his life. Lucas Duda at first base is as streaky as anyone in baseball, and he’s seemingly always good for some weird, lingering injury. Neil Walker has been fantastic offensively for the Mets, but he’s recovering from major back surgery. I have to assume he’ll take a sizable step backwards. Asdrubal “Ass Man” Cabrera is a godsend to this team, but can he continue to produce at the rate we’ve seen? Unlikely. Jose Reyes, starting third baseman. Isn’t that something? Obviously this isn’t the 60 stolen base Jose Reyes from 10 years ago, but the Mets need him to stay healthy and provide a spark plug at the top of the lineup. Wilmer Flores can and will be filling in as necessary all over the infield when the starters inevitable struggle or go down with injuries.
David Wright is a corpse who will never play another game of baseball. He’s been dead for a long time, but enough is enough. Nobody loved DW5 more than I did. It’s time to hang em up. I said it in June and I stand by it. I’d be shocked if he steps foot on the field this year.
This has been predominantly all negative thus far. Let’s flip this on its head and touch on what could happen if the stars align. The Mets have an abundance of starting pitching. And if someone goes down, there’s another flame thrower behind him to be next man up. Not many teams can say that. Syndergaard and DeGrom are two legitimate Cy Young candidates. Matt Harvey has shown flashes of being what everyone hopes he can be, and he loves the New York limelight. Yoenis Cespedes is the best baseball player the Mets have had in a long time. Yo is a bonafide 5-tool player, and even though he’ll make lackadaisical mistakes in the field and on the base paths, his bat and glove and overall aura will overshadow those mistakes. If Jay Bruce can be half of what he was during his time with the Reds, there could be a two-headed monster in the middle of the Mets lineup. Between all the starting infielders, they’ve all proven they can play and hit, and if they can do so in lockstep and stay healthy, the Mets lineup will be a force to be reckoned with.
And so there you have it. I hope I didn’t bum you out too much, but it’s how I feel. And my pessimism is 100% warranted. It blows my mind to see so much blind optimism amongst Mets fans. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be right there with em getting my hopes up when the aces start rolling and the bats start hitting bombs. I’ll be eyes glued to the TV every single day. And when it comes crashing down I’ll be fucking heart broken even though I’m telling myself now that it’s going to happen because it always does. The worst part is that this roster has the potential to win a World Series. But then I remember what the name of the front of the uniform says. Then I remember who the owners are. Then I remember how the world works.
Official prediction: the Mets go 83-79 and miss the playoffs.