Let’s face it. The 2017 season for Terry Collins and the New York Mets was a complete and utter mess. Whether it was the refusal of an MRI, a lack of communication between player, manager, and media, or a handful of gut-wrenching blown leads, 2017 really could not have gone any worse. Many writers, analysts, and fans alike had high expectations for this year’s Amazins’. After all, Terry Collins led the Mets to consecutive playoff appearances for the first time as an organization since 2000. With a healthy staff of 5 “aces”, a lineup built around All-Star slugger Yoenis Cespedes, and plenty of hope from the Flushing Faithful, 2017’s New York Mets seemed poised to make some noise. But in typical Met fashion, it all fell apart. The combination of poor management, an obscene amount of injuries, and even some bad luck caused the Mets to throw in the towel in late June/early July. While most fans have lost hope, there is still plenty of reason to have faith going into 2018. With a plethora of young players and a sufficient amount of money to spend, the Mets could likely see themselves in a pennant race come next fall. Here are 4 ways the Mets can get back to the promise land.
Like most Mets fans who are critical as all hell, it is very easy to point fingers at Ray Ramirez, who has recently been let go by the organization. While I’m no physician myself, I know for certain that the Mets players were injured far too much under the eye of Mr. Ramirez. Is it as simple as saying he is the only reason the Mets were always injured? No, but if the Mets have any plans to improve their on-field play as a ball club, they have already taken the first step in the right direction by firing Ray. No, Syndergaard you shouldn’t have put on 15-20 pounds of muscle. No, Cespedes you shouldn’t have tried to bulk up this offseason either, so regardless of what these players do they need to stay healthy and condition their bodies for the long, fatiguing season.
(Asdrubal Cabrera in pain after injuring his thumb in 2017)
What might just be the most important factor for the Mets and worth investing their time into are the levels of conditioning done in the offseason…just ask Ron Darling. Darling, part of the 1986 championship Mets team ripped into the training staff of today’s MLB, stating how foolish it is to try and turn players into “six pack wearers” and not well conditioned athletes. Many believe running and endurance training is the most important aspect of keeping athletes healthy, and as of now it wouldn’t hurt the Mets to try a new method of getting their athletes into a healthy, injury avoiding condition. So whether it be the popular “fire the training staff” notion or simply changing the off season workout plan, the Mets need a new regimen or plan to stay healthy in 2018 if they want any success in a talent-growing National East division.
Free Agent Signings and Trades
By trading Jay Bruce, Neil Walker, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed and others, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has given himself a solid sum of cash to work with in the offseason (saved 10 million dollars by trading these players). Whether the Mets go after a catcher to replace the incredibly inconsistent Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki combination, who both tore it up in the last weeks of the season, or an outfielder like Lorenzo Cain of the Kansas City Royals to pair up with Michael Conforto and Cespedes, the Mets need to spend some cash or at least trade up for some every day players. However, Sandy Alderson has all but hinted that the Mets will not be going all in during free agency, so do not expect him to do anything near the caliber of signing Yoenis Cespedes to his massive contract.
(the Mets signed Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a 4 -year 110-Million-dollar deal in the Winter of 2016.)
With that said, it’s too risky to go into 2018 with question marks surrounding various different positions in the field and in the bullpen. The Mets have options at first, second and third, with the likes of T.J. Rivera who had a great season until going down with a UCL injury, and fan-favorite Wilmer Flores. These are viable options to field a solid Mets lineup, but if they want to go above and beyond and reach the World Series, they’ll need a few more impact players in the lineup to help get them there.
While the field positions are one thing, it is also important to address the concerns with the pitching. The rotation proved to be shaky in 2017, with Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, and Robert Gsellman all pitching poorly. The main strength of the Mets in 2017 was supposed to be the pitching, but as seen last year it was the worst it has ever been. Because of this, it is no question that the Mets could potentially be looking for an arm to help solidify the rotation. They certainly don’t need a Chris Sale, they need someone who can be consistent in the middle of the rotation and provide an insurance policy should they see some of their young arms go down. With the news that Dan Warthen is out of Queens, the Mets need to find a new pitching coach to get these arms back on track. Recently the Mets hired former beloved Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway as their next manager, so having an ex-pitching coach with the success that Mickey had in Cleveland will surely help these young arms in Queens. At their full potential like we’ve seen, Jacob DeGrom, Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Matz are 4 all-star caliber pitchers that can make this staff one of the very best in baseball.
(Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, and Matt Harvey)
Don’t forget that Wheeler, Seth Lugo, or Gsellman (when on their A-Game) are more than capable pitchers that will more than likely become the 5th starter in the back end of the rotation. With limited room for all of these pitchers though, it is likely that one or more of them could be moved back to the questionable New York Met bullpen, who will be fronted by Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos and Jerry Blevins.
The offseason is going to be more important than ever as these pitchers will be working with a new coach, looking to fix the issues that plagued their 2017 seasons, minus DeGrom.
Help From The Young Studs
Finally, The Mets need to see production from their core 3 young guys. Michael Conforto has already proven he can be a potential MVP candidate for years to come with his near .280 batting, 27 homers, and 68 RBI’s in just 109 games during the 2017 season. Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith on the other hand, still have a lot to prove.
After being called up to the bigs in late July, Amed Rosario finished the summer off with a .248 average in 46 games this year. Not only is Amed a plus infielder with great hands, he also poses as a threat on the bases with fantastic speed. Like all young players, Amed took some time to settle, but he has turned out to be pretty impressive in his small sample size with the Mets despite only hitting .240. On the other hand, Dominic Smith has some work to do himself. After 49 games, Dom slashed .198 with 9 homers and 26 RBI’s in 167 at bats. While he increased his production towards the back part of his short season in the bigs, he still has plenty of work and developing needed to be done in order to become a better player. He is steady over at first base aside from some miscues, but the Mets would like to see him raise his average some more and hit for more power in order to play every day next year. As stated earlier, these 3 are a big part of the future of this organization, and the team’s success next year is very dependent on the way these boys can play.
Dominic Smith (22), Amed Rosario (21), Michael Conforto (24) pictured above.
There you have it. Those are a few of the many ways the Mets can return to the postseason in 2018 and seek their third World Series win. This organization has plenty of talent and a good amount of money to guide them into the postseason next year, it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together and playing some damn-good baseball as they are expected to. If they can stay healthy, acquire an impact player or two, and get solid production from the pitching staff, the Mets will likely see themselves playing meaningful baseball in the fall. Until then, they need to continue to properly develop their young players, and gear up for next season. I guess you could say it’s an exciting time to be a Mets fan, if you are ready to look towards the future.