By NIKITA DUBNOV
It is always pretty hard to tell people that I am a Mets fan. It usually spawns a question about why I don’t like the Yankees or a statement about how bad the team is. There is no argument to be made. The New York Mets have been exceptionally subpar in their play in recent years. However, the national news media is beginning to recognize the team’s potential for this upcoming season.
Why has there not been any success in Queens in recent years? There isn’t one concrete answer, but in general, the combination of an overhaul of the organization and a mass of young players, coupled with a variety of crucial injuries, limited the success of the Amazins.
However, things are changing quickly for the Mets and there is a lot of hope for the upcoming season. The first thing that seems to indicate this is a big, early splash that the management made this offseason. In the past, the team’s owners and GM have been under a great deal of scrutiny from fans for not making big moves. Although this has resulted in the development of one of the better farm systems in baseball, as the team looked to develop prospect more than trade for stars, the signing of veteran Michael Cuddyer just over a week ago to a two-year deal came as a bit of a surprise to the fanbase. The Mets gave up their first round pick to bring in Cuddyer, which is somewhat of a signal that the team management is ready win. On top of that, the veteran makes a lot of sense for this team. The Mets needed to fill a hole in the outfield that can also provide a power bat in the lineup, and the fact that Cuddyer is a known close-friend of David Wright makes this deal make a lot of sense. As far as the management continuing to be aggressive, the team has been linked to rumors of trading for big time shortstop like Alexi Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki or Starlin Castro. If any of those deals pan out, this team will have all the needed pieces for success.
The early and aggressive move to bring in Cuddyer isn’t the main indication of the potential success of this team. Many returning players, both young and old, are ready to make splashes in their offensive production this upcoming season. Last year, the Mets were one of the worst offensive teams in the Majors. Many things are looking up this year. Young players like Travis dArnaud and Lucas Duda ended the second half of the 2014 season on a tear. Duda was known around the league as one of the top long-ball hitters in baseball, while d’Arnaud flew under the radar in the second half due to a very poor first half. If both youngsters come back with the same production, things are looking good for the Mets. Veteran Mets stars that flopped in 2014 are also primed to have a good year. Curtis Granderson, who struggled to hit with consistency last season, has potential to make a comeback year as the Mets organization brought in ex-Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long to work with the former Yankee slugger. Another great comeback story will be David Wright, who struggled with an ailing shoulder that limited his offensive production. A healthy return and the new ballpark dimensions in Citi Field should greatly help to change the Mets captain’s fortunes on offense.
On the other end of the field, the Mets are also poised for success. Center fielder Juan Lagares is one of the finest young fielders in the game, and he helps lead the Mets defense. The pitching is the most consistent and best assets that the Mets have. With the return of ace Matt Harvey after a season off due to injury, the starting rotation looks ready to do some damage in the league. Harvey, young star Zach Wheeler, NL Rookie of the Year winner Jacob deGrom and seasoned pitchers Jon Niese and Dillon Gee currently make up the starting five. If these five young stars can mimic their performances on the mound from their last seasons of play, the Mets rotation would arguably be the best in the Majors. The relievers are not too bad in their own regard. On top of that, the farm system is going to graduate several top prospects to the MLB squad early this season. Most notably, Noah Syndergaard is one of the top pitching prospects in the minors who is expected to move up to the big league squad and only improve the already exceptionally talented starting rotation.
With all that being considered, it is clear that the New York Mets are primed for a season of success. My prediction is that the team is set to win at least 90 games this year. After 6 seasons of extremely poor play and continual losing, that sort of turnaround would be a great change for the team’s faithful fans. The pieces certainly seems like they are coming together for the Mets and watch the team to be one of the best stories in the MLB this season.