For the New York Mets this season, the expectation is that there are no real expectations.
While players, coaches and even upper management may be saying that the goal this season is to win 90 games, the realistic goal is to make it to next season, when they’ll, hopefully, be at full strength.
The plan put together by the Mets a few years ago had the team being a serious contender by 2014 — that’s this season. The plan was coming along decently until Matt Harvey got hurt last season, putting him out until 2015.
The future of the Mets is build around the stockpile of young, talented arms they have sitting in the minor leagues. A lot like the St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland Athletics, the Mets know that the key to a successful Major League franchise begins with the organizational depth of your starting pitching.
Harvey and Zack Wheeler were suppose to be one of the best 1-2 punches in the league at the top of the rotation, not only this season, but for years to come.
Not to say that it still can’t happen, but it can’t happen this season, and that alone hurts this team very much — not being able to have their best pitcher from a season ago also hurts the team more than you would think.
We know that the Mets also have this kid named Noah Syndergaard that should be very good. We’ll probably see him later this season, with another kid that the Mets are hoping to be a big part of their rotation in the future, Miguel Montero.
OK, enough talking about what we’ll have to wait until next season to actually see.
You never like to have questions with your roster heading into Opening Day, but the Mets have a few.
First, the first base situation is something that needs to be sorted out fairly soon. Neither player had a particularly good spring, but Ike Davis outplayed Lucas Duda during spring training, hitting about 60 points higher than Duda. Both had some injuries to deal with, and you could always attribute that to their struggles.
Obviously the Mets would love it if one of these guys got off to a hot start and was able to win the job, and create some more certainty in the lineup.
Over at shortstop, what are you going to get from Ruben Tejada, who looked like the Ruben Tejada that has the Mets looking for outside help at shortstop.
The Mets were reportedly upset with Tejada almost immediately when camp started because of how he showed up a little out of shape. New York was been looking around to possibly make a trade, and reportedly had some interest in Seattle Mariners infielder Nick Franklin, who was sent to Triple-A to begin the season, would could make him much more available.
The Juan Lagares vs Eric Young Jr. conversation was there throughout the offseason, and it was there again throughout the spring.
Lagares is a much better defender than Young Jr., but EYJ has a track record of being a better hitter. Both players had very similar numbers at the plate this season, both hitting just a few points under .300 in almost the same number of games.
With that on the table — if you want to believe that numbers in spring training mean anything — you probably think that Lagares gets the start in center field for now. In my opinion, I think that Lagares has more potential than EYJ, and if his bat can hold up to at least half the level of his outfield play, he could be a pretty good player for the Mets this season.
Some other questions we’ll be looking to find out as the season goes along:
What are the Mets going to get from Bartolo Colon this season? I was quite skeptical of the this signing when it happened. Colon had been a solid pitcher for the A’s the past couple of seasons, but will he be able to give New York the same kind of performance this season?
I think that the Mets may have used his signing has a way to make up for the fact that they’ll be without Harvey this season, but I think we can already agree he won’t come anywhere to close to where Harvey was last season before getting hurt.
Curtis Granderson and Chris Young: what are they going to get from these two? I think the toss-up is more with Young, who actually had a pretty good spring training, hitting .310 in 58 at-bats. If his spring showing is something he can continue, he’ll have a pretty good season.
And with Granderson, he showed during his time with the Yankees that as long as he is healthy, he can be a very dangerous bat in the lineup. Playing in a much bigger park than Yankee Stadium, I still think that if you’re setting his over/under at 20 homeruns this season, I’d take the over.
The NL East is a little tougher to call this season, with the Washington Nationals coming in with one of the best rotations in the game; the Atlanta Braves still a good offensive ballclub, but injuries to the rotation during the spring being a real concern; and the possibility of the Miami Marlins have a very good, young starting rotation.
A good season for the Mets might be winning 90 games in their minds, but that’s not happening. A good season for the Mets in my mind would be finishing third in the East, and getting through the season healthy enough to be a pre-season contender next season when they enter with one of the best prospect-filled starting rotations in the game.
Here is the 25-man roster that will lead the Mets into the 2014 season against the Nationals on Monday at Citi Field:
Starting pitchers: Bartolo Colon (R), Dillon Gee (R), Jenrry Mejia (R), Zack Wheeler (R)
Relief pitchers: Jeurys Familia (R), Gonzalez Germen (R), John Lannan (L), Bobby Parnell (R), Scott Rice (L), Carlos Torres (R), Jose Valverde (R)
Infielders: Ike Davis (L), Daniel Murphy (R), Omar Quintanilla (L), Josh Satin (R), Ruben Tejada (R), David Wright (R)
Outfielders: Andrew Brown (R), Lucas Duda (L), Curtis Granderson (L), Juan Lagares (R), Chris Young (R), Eric Young (S)
Catchers: Travis d’Arnaud (R), Anthony Recker (R)
Disabled list: Jon Niese (L)
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