A sense of optimism
Let’s get this out of the way to start. No, I don’t expect the Mets to be in the playoff hunt. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see them fall apart like they’ve done the last few seasons. Yet I’m still excited for what’s in store. I feel like I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mind you this light isn’t piercing. It’s simply the first time I’ve seen any in a while.
Even with mild expectations (and that was probably optimistic), the season started out disappointing. Once again Ike Davis had a slow start. The only hitter outside of David Wright with true star potential on the roster, and he put up some of the worst numbers in all of the majors. Ruben Tejada went from a possible starter to a minor leaguer, and Jon Niese has suffered through some poor starts and an extended stint on the DL that almost saw his season come to a close. Not to mention an injury to top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, the main impact player in the Dickey trade that was supposed to premier with the big league club.
So why am I optimistic for the second half? It’s Matt Harvey looking like a Cy Young candidate in his first full season. It’s Zach Wheeler flashing the promise of a staff ace in his first few starts. It’s Niese avoiding season ending surgery. It’s Jeremy Hefner turning from a stop-gap to a potential piece of the puzzle. It’s Bobby Parnell turning into a big trade chip, and a stud young closer. It’s wanting to see if there is any way in hell Josh Satin and Eric Young Jr. can keep it up. And it’s hoping to see d’Arnaud in the majors sooner than later. Basically, it’s a lot.
I want to see the progression of these players because honestly the Mets could be a competitive team as early as next season (competitive as in second wild card contender…which is a lot when you consider the last several seasons).
And it’s almost entirely because of the pitching depth in the system. Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Hefner, Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard, and Rafael Montero. That’s seven strong starting pitchers in the majors or the high minors. Pick any five and you have yourself a strong rotation to build around, and that leaves you two strong trading chips (If I had to guess I’d say Niese and Montero are most likely to be traded).
Ok, hitting might leave more to be desired. But Wright has become the leader of this team. He has been the best third baseman in the National League, and one of the most productive players in the majors despite having very little around him (outside of Marlon “Are you absolutely sure PEDs are not involved in any way?” Byrd).
There is still the chance d’Arnaud can establish himself as a solid hitter before the season ends. And let’s not forget all the money coming off the books at the end of the season. If the Mets can use the payroll flexibility to add a bat and trade for another (entirely possible) the Mets lineup could be respectable by next season (and with the rotation that’s good enough).