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Tuesday, October 1, 2013
5 reasons for optimism ... and pessimism

By Adam Rubin

NEW YORK -- Are you a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty type of person?

Well, no matter which way you lean, here is something for you ... five reasons for optimism and five reasons for pessimism about the Mets in 2014.

OPTIMISM

1. Harvey will be OK. Matt Harvey is going to try to rehab and undergo a throwing program to demonstrate he can pitch with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Terry Collins believes if you're going to bet on anyone overcoming that obstacle, bet on Harvey.

2. The starting pitching. Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee form one of the top staff's in the National League. And that's before whatever external addition the Mets make this winter. Plus, Double-A right-hander Noah Syndergaard is the real deal and should debut at some point in 2014. Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom also are young options.

3. Payroll flexibility. The only existing contracts the Mets have for 2014 are David Wright at $20 million and Niese at $5 million. Johan Santana at $31 million (including a $5.5 million buyout of 2014) headlines the contracts coming off the books. So the Mets, who have lacked a serious foray into the free-agent market in Sandy Alderson's first three offseasons as general manager, now have the flexibility to pursue big-ticket items if they choose.

4. The young talent. Travis d'Arnaud may have hit only .202, but the talent is there. Couple that with Juan Lagares, Vic Black and Wheeler's promise and things are starting to look brighter.

5. Ya Gotta Believe! After five straight losing seasons, Mets fans deserve a winner. The Mets did go 49-48 over their final 97 games this season.

PESSIMISM

1. Harvey will miss 2014. Mets officials have hardly masked their belief Harvey needs Tommy John surgery. The worst fear is that Harvey resolves to return without the procedure, then blows out the UCL completely early next season. That would compromise Harvey being available for part of 2015 as well.

2. The payroll is going down. Team insiders already are talking about a Boston Red Sox offseason model. For the pessimistic, that's code for not signing any players to big free-agent contracts.

3.  No impact position players loom. The Mets used their top pick in the past three drafts on high school players, and none (Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini or Dominic Smith) has yet to play above low-A. In fact, there are not any impact position players who will be introduced next season -- just the same names the Mets have tried before.

4. What outfield? Let's be honest: Eric Young Jr. has speed, but he's really a fourth outfielder. The Mets need to add sluggers for both corner-outfield spots, especially if the defensive-focused Lagares will be manning center field. Where are those boppers coming from?

5. The division will be strong. The Washington Nationals may have missed the postseason, but Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and crew are not going away just yet. The Atlanta Braves will remain an elite team. And the Miami Marlins have the best young talent in the division. And Giancarlo Stanton is still wearing a Marlins uniform ... at least right now.