Sunday, March 30, 2014
Could this be the Mets' year?
By Adam Rubin
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsMONTREAL -- The New York Mets have produced five straight losing seasons, tied with the Houston Astros for the longest current futility streak in Major League Baseball. So “wait ’til next year” gets kind of old.
Mr. Met should be smiling come 2015, when Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard form the rotation's core.
In the case of the Mets, however, it will get better.
Assuming Matt Harvey is back from Tommy John surgery and clicking on all cylinders in 2015, and if Noah Syndergaard is as good as the projections suggest he will perform, the Mets will be at least six deep in quality starting pitching next season -- with Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Syndergaard giving them a trio of legitimate aces.
As for this season, the Mets figure to still take their lumps, even if Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins have floated 90 wins as the goal.
What’s the best-case scenario for the Mets in 2014?
A winning record would be an ambitious achievement, and a nice springboard into next season.
For that to materialize -- or, dare we say, a flirtation with the wild card -- the Mets will need these things to go right:
• Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis will need to look like their early selves, not the versions that resulted in both getting demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas last season.
• Bartolo Colon will need to do his best to replicate last year’s 18-6 record and 2.65 ERA in 190 1/3 innings with the Oakland Athletics in order to offset the absence of Harvey.
• David Wright, now 31 years old, will need to have an MVP-caliber season while remaining in the lineup. Wright appeared in only 102 games in 2011 and 112 games last year due to injury.
• Newcomers Curtis Granderson and Chris Young will need to supply power. Granderson slugged a combined 84 homers in 2011 and ’12 with the Yankees. No one expects a duplication of that 40-plus-homer output given the dimensions of Citi Field. But the Mets need to have him flirt with at least 30 long balls. Young, meanwhile, needs to rediscover the production he had with the Arizona Diamondbacks after hitting .200 with 12 homers in 335 at-bats last season with Oakland.
• Bobby Parnell needs to produce at the same level he did before last season’s herniated disk surgery, when his fastball sizzled and he converted 22 of 26 saves. (Two of those blown saves resulted from misplays behind him.)
• Jose Valverde, 36, needs to discover the fountain of youth. He will not be the reliever who was 49-for-49 in save conversions in 2011 with the Detroit Tigers. But he needs to be more like that than the pitcher who was released from Triple-A Toledo last season.
• Scott Rice, who undoubtedly will be leaned on heavily for lefty relief, needs to be as effective as he was early last season
and avoid having the heavy workload catch up with him, as it did with lefty predecessors Pedro Feliciano and Tim Byrdak.
The bottom line: Vegas thinks the Mets are a 74-win team or so. And the oddsmakers are probably correct. But brighter days are on the horizon after too long a wait.