2015 Mets as viewed by an optimist, pessimist and realist

New-York-Mets-Logo-VectorGiven all the questions surrounding the Mets – unproven players, key contributors coming back from injuries, etc – it’s not easy to objectively predict what the 2015 season has in store for them. Here are some predictions from three perspectives.

The 2015 Mets – the Rose Colored Glasses Edition

Matt Harvey continues his spring dominance and proves to be even more over powering on the mound than he was two years ago before his elbow injury. He’s a certifiable ace and Cy Young award contender with 18 wins, 225 strikeouts and an ERA among the league leaders. Jacob DeGrom picks up right where he left off, solidifying himself as a bona fide number two, winning 16 games himself. The remainder of the rotation, while in flux due to the injury to Zach Wheeler and a midseason trade of Dillon Gee, gets a massive boost from Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard, who both prove they belong and are in the big league rotation to stay by the All-Star break.

The bullpen, led by Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, Carlos Torres, lefty trade addition Brian Matusz and a resurgent Bobby Parnell, does their job of holding leads and keeping games close.  The lineup scores far more runs than expected. Captain David Wright bounces back with his best season in years, hitting .315 with 24 homers and 107 r.bi. Curtis Granderson (.248/31/96) and Michael Cuddyer (.296/23/88) enjoy healthy, productive seasons, while Lucas Duda bests his numbers from last season (.272/35/96) to make for a strong middle of the order. Juan Legares (.284 with 32 doubles and 28 stolen bases) and Daniel Murphy (.301/14/82) do a good job setting the table, while Travis d’Arnaud (.273/18/75) and Wilmer Flores (.290/19/81) keep pitchers honest with strong contributions from the bottom of the lineup. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, John Mayberry, Jr., Matt Den Dekker, Ruben Tejada, Eric Campbell and Anthony Recker all contribute off the bench as well, filling in capably where needed and getting key pinch hits in late innings.

By September 1, the Mets are in the wild card fight with a record 10 games over .500.  The organization then calls on their secret weapon, an influx of talent from Las Vegas to put them over the top. Steven Matz takes over for a tired Bartolo Colon in the rotation, while Jack Leathersich, who made great strides working with Frank Viola in AAA, fortifies the bullpen. Dilson Herrera and Kevin Plawecki provide some rest for Murphy and d’Arnaud and give the lineup a spark. The team finishes with 92 wins to earn a wild card entry to their first playoffs since 2006.

The 2015 Mets – the Glass Half Empty Edition

The Mets get hit pretty good by the injury bug in 2015, starting with the spring training season enders to Josh Edgin and Wheeler and later by inevitable injuries to at least two more pitchers. Fortunately, they have the organizational depth to overcome pitching injuries, but when a few hitters go down the losses prove insurmountable.

Harvey bounces back well, but management cautiously limits his innings. Meanwhile, deGrom goes through some growing pains before learning to rely on his changeup a bit more. Gee surprises and returns to his 2013 form and pitches solidly all season as one of the teams more dependable hurlers. Montero takes Niese’s place (shoulder) and later Syndergaard takes Colon’s spot (knee). Both have their ups and downs, walking too many and giving up a few too many long balls.

Meanwhile Terry Collins does a disastrous job of handling the bullpen, turning to them too early and often, overworking arms. Mejia spends several stints on the DL and Parnell resumes closer duties, but not without blowing eight saves. The lack of a solid lefty reliever creates problems as the team keeps shuffling marginal candidates back and forth to Las Vegas, including Sean Gilmartin, Leathersich, Dario Alvarez, Duane Below, Darin Gorski and Chase Huchingson. Not one of them proves capable of getting out lefty hitters in key situations and the Mets lose several heart breakers on late inning homers by Freddie Freeman and Ryan Howard.

The lineup proves even more inept than last year. Free agent additions Cuddyer and Mayberry are total busts. Cuddyer spends most of the year on the disabled list while Mayberry looks washed up. Meanwhile, Duda and Nieuwenhuis struggle against left-handed pitching. Wright stays healthy and hits a respectable .290 but seems to have lost his power, settling for just 13 homeruns in a full season. It doesn’t help that he has limited support from a lineup that also features Granderson (.214 with 180 strikeouts) and Legares (.298 OBP from the leadoff spot). d’Arnaud spends time on the DL again, but Plawecki gets the call and fills in admirably.  Murphy has a typical season and Flores surprises with his bat (.285/18/74) but it’s not enough to make up for the injuries, poor hitting against lefties, and a porous defense. Flores makes an astounding 37 errors at shortstop, despite being replaced by Tejada late in close games. He and Murphy struggle to turn double plays and cost the Mets several games.

The Mets struggle all season and never reach .500, finishing at a disappointing 74-88. Although Sandy Alderson is clearly to blame for ignoring the bullpen needs and putting all his offensive improvement eggs in one injury-prone basket, Collins pays the price and loses his job at season’s end.

 

The 2015 Mets – the Realistic View

Realistically, not everyone is going to get injured and not every new player is going to be a bust. And it’s equally doubtful that more than a few guys will have career years or that the team will stay injury free (already too late for that). This team has the depth to overcome injuries and it has the potential to win a lot of games on pitching alone. Realistically, the difference between another disappointing season and a competitive one that has the team at least playing meaningful games in September, if not into October, comes down to Alderson. The onus is on him.

If the team gets off to a slow start, he can’t just wait it out. If Collins continues to mismanage the bullpen and favor fading veterans over promising young players, it may be time for a change. We’ve got two very viable replacements in line with Tim Teufel and Wally Backman. If any player struggles for long, regardless of their stature or salary, there are promising players waiting for the call in Las Vegas.  And if the team is in the thick of it in July, Alderson should finally pull the trigger on that big blockbuster to bring in the big bat to put us over the top and propel us into the playoffs.

As much as we all wish Alderson would have done more in the off-season, in-season is where he’ll really need to step it up to keep this Mets team in contention.

27 comments for “2015 Mets as viewed by an optimist, pessimist and realist

  1. March 20, 2015 at 9:38 am

    As always, it’ll all come down to dollars & cents: will the Wilpons bite the bullet and pay Collins $1 million to not manage? Will they have enough in the till to allow Alderson to make roster additions mid-season? Will they have the fortitude to see it through to the end?

    Until or unless these questions are answered, we won’t know how full the glass is.

    • March 20, 2015 at 11:59 am

      I think you can make a case for luck/health being more important than money. While I still hold out hope for a Tulo deal, I think I’d settle for guaranteed healthy years from Wright, Duda, TDA, Harvey and JDG.

      • March 21, 2015 at 9:28 am

        I wasn’t even thinking about Tulo. We don’t know if the Mets can afford to bring in a Reed Johnson-type player.

  2. Matt Netter
    March 20, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Exactly, Brian. We can withstand a few pitching injuries there are a few wvry day players who would be hard to replace.

  3. Patrick Albanesius
    March 20, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I love the Brian Matusz addition in the optimistic view point. And I agree with Brian that I’d rather have a healthy year from most of our big hitters than to get Tulo.

  4. March 20, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Just an observation, if the glass half empty POV has Gee and Plawecki excelling, what does the glass half full or realistic POVs have to say?

  5. James Preller
    March 20, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    I think money can help a team get through the inevitable periods of poor health and bad luck.

    It’s the danger of the current approach of, “If everything breaks right, maybe we can get to Game 163.”

    Which is not the playoffs.

    I mean, I recognize the Mets don’t have money, it’s the current reality, so you do your best under those conditions. But having money is better than not.

    • March 21, 2015 at 12:41 am

      Especially now that they had to fork over several million dollars to Castergine so that the Mets wouldn’t be embarrassed in court by Jeff’s childish behavior. It’s not about the money? It’s about maintaining control of the franchise. Even if the Mets fail miserably this season what changes do you expect Alderson to make? There is no money for Any upgrades. We are the east coast version of the Oakland A’s minus Billy Beane. Winning for the Wilpons is secondary There is zero chance that Alderson brings Backman to Queens. To opinionated for his liking. The Mets are going to need luck on their side since good health and good fortune are definitely not with them. And i don’t see luck being on the side of the 2 weasel owners like Fred and Jeff

  6. TexasGusCC
    March 21, 2015 at 12:47 am

    You want optimism? I’ll give you optimism. They win 92 games and take the division by two games. I don’t know if all that will happen, but I can tell you what will happen in Washington DC:
    – Span is already hurt and will miss six weeks; then, Span will need a couple of weeks to get up to speed. Also, Werth is out, he’s 35 and he tends to get hurt in streaks.
    – Cannot see Rendon doing that again, and would expect Zimmerman to get hurt or show his slowing bat.
    – While I actually expect good years from Harper and Desmond, it isn’t enough and Escobar probably won’t do much. Their backups are unproven also, by the way. Just like ours.
    – Their rotation is amazing, they will get to know what it’s like with diminished offense. Too, their bullpen will be much worse without Clippard and Soriano. While Soriano blew up in August, he was very good before that.

    So, excuse me if I feel the Nats are already showing some fractures in their armor and if the boys from Queens can play like their baseball cards suggest, don’t be surprised if Harvey opened the playoffs against the central division winner.

    • March 21, 2015 at 12:59 am

      Gus its not armor. It’s teflon. I honestly do not expect to see the Mets in the playoffs. To be so dependent on a 36 year old who has spent too much time on the DL. Frightening isn’t it? Hope Granderson can do better than .220? Hope Collins can better utilize the pen? Never happen. Hope TC plays the kids when the veterans get hurt? Never happen. TC will ask Alderson for some alternate solutions. I’m optimistic Collins will be gone by September as the Mets get eliminated by the Phillies and the Marlins by virtue of the Mets losing get the last playoff spot.

      • TexasGusCC
        March 21, 2015 at 1:08 am

        Pete, I don’t really worry about Cuddyer because for the twenty to thirty games he will miss, I think MDD (or even Kirk) will be pretty good. I do expect big things from two of three: Duda, Wright, Granderson, and a good year from three of five: Cuddyer/MDD, Murphy, Flores, TDA, and Lagares. That gives you five positive contributors with that staff and that bullpen, and hopefully the other three hitters are somewhat decent. I wonder if even Collins can screw it up.

    • TexasGusCC
      March 21, 2015 at 1:03 am

      To continue, I like Mike Rizzo very much. He’s a talented GM. But, did they really need Scherzer over a middle of the order bat for third base and switch Rendon to second? I think adding a middle of the order bat like Sandoval or HanRam, or even Headley would have been better, at the very least try for Prado and give the Yankees a young pitcher similar to a wild but talented Eovaldi.

      I am actually a bit disappointed in Rizzo’s off season, but, I’m a Mets fan so GOOD!

      • BK
        March 21, 2015 at 4:24 pm

        Unless the Nats have a complete offensive collapse – which is possible – our main concern is the Marlins. But with Rendon (who may be the best player on their team), Desmond in a contract year, and Harper maybe becoming a middle of the order threat, plus that pitching, it’s safe to say our main competition for the wild card will be Miami. And if we fall behind Miami quickly, I see TC taking the fall.

    • Chris F
      March 21, 2015 at 9:11 am

      Gus, forget the Nats. I’d like to hear your thoughts on how we fare against our real rivals in the nl east: the Marlins, who everyone outside The organization and fans says are 5+ games better than us.

      • March 21, 2015 at 9:23 am

        That’s because they include managers in their forecasts as to how well the team will do. Collins is worth at least 2 loses. The Marlins outfield is their strength. They have a decent starting rotation and Fernandez should join then in late May early June. Bull pen is average and closer is okay. No national media spotlight or pressure on them. Redmond isn’t Scioscia. But he’s not Collins either.

      • TexasGusCC
        March 21, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        Chris, thank you for asking. I just looked at their lineup and it is a talented and balanced one. However, upon looking at their rotation, I wasn’t impressed. Henderson Alvarez is ok; middle rotation guy. Latos is a good pitcher, not great, but motivated as a free agent to be. Dan Haren is ok, nothing special. Tom Kohler is a back-end pitcher. Jarred Cosart is wild. Here are their swing rates and velocities on their average fastball, and then the Mets. Big difference!

        1 Mat Latos 8.0% 90.7 mph
        2 Henderson Alvarez 7.1% 92.1 mph
        3 Jarred Cosart  6.6% 93.5 mph
        4 Dan Haren  7.0% 87.6 mph
        5 Tom Koehler 8.4% 92.8 mph
        6 David Phelps SP 5.4% 90.4 mph

        And now the Mets:
        1 Matt Harvey  12.0% 95.8 mph
        2 Bartolo Colon 5.6% 90.6 mph
        3 Jonathon Niese 7.1% 88.8 mph
        4 Jacob deGrom 11.7% 93.5 mph
        5 Dillon Gee  7.3% 89.1 mph
        6 Noah Syndergaard
        7 Rafael Montero 8.5% 92.2 mph

        So, based on lineups, the Marlins may, might, could, have a slight edge because they have speed and two leadoff hitters whereas the Mets, well, you know. However, on the mound its no contest.

        Hence, overall edge: Mets by five games.

        • TexasGusCC
          March 21, 2015 at 7:04 pm

          I cannot explain how the flowers got there. I basically just copied and pasted from Rotochamp’s lineup site, but there weren’t any flowers.

        • March 21, 2015 at 11:32 pm

          But Gus what about when Fernandez returns? it may well give the Marlins the same boost as Harvey can do for the Mets.

          • TexasGusCC
            March 22, 2015 at 1:03 am

            Yes, but Harvey is 18 months away and Fernandez may be a mere 12. Further, Harvey has a much better supporting cast where Fernandez will only pitch every fifth game.

            Pete, we are biased Mets fans, so of course we favor our guys. However, there are usually factors that people don’t foresee that actually are the deciding factors. Hopefully, it’s a good year.

  7. March 21, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Gus I’m not worried about the offense. All teams go hot and cold. What worries me is the defense up the middle. Too many extra outs. Between Murphy and Flores having no range and skill levels I would love to see Herrera here sooner than later. Defense and clutch hitting wins a WS. Something the Mets are really lacking. They’ll put men on base as usual, but will leave their customary second and third with less than two outs fair share. Pessimistic? Maybe? But I’ve seen too much of Collins and Alderson to have any hope for this dynamic duo.

    • March 21, 2015 at 1:31 am

      Hey Gus! What happened last September when Collins opted to have Tejada play SS over Flores? What was his response to the press? We’re here to win games. So I can’t wait to see when Wilmer has a bad game for TC to bench him in a heart beat.

  8. Eraff
    March 21, 2015 at 6:08 am

    The Optimist Rbi Totals: every player has 75 plus…. that tally is a 96-102 win team!

    Nice round up

  9. Metsense
    March 21, 2015 at 6:44 am

    If the Mets make the playoffs it will be because of the dominant pitching of Harvey and deGrom starting in 40% of their games. Two pitchers of their caliber can make up for a lot of mediocrity.

  10. Matt Netter
    March 21, 2015 at 8:28 am

    TexasGus has a terrific point. It may be as much about pessimism for the Nats. There’s no question they have phenomenal pitching, but I’m with you – i think their offense is as fragile as ours.

  11. BK
    March 21, 2015 at 8:47 am

    The Nats have legitimate concerns about offense. In addition to the injuries that have already been mentioned, Harper needs to take the leap. He needs to play like the star he is portrayed as. So far, he’s had one really good month.

    • March 21, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      The Mets are not the favorites to win the second wild card. They may be part of the conversation but they are clearly not the front runners. In the Central you have St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago. The West has the Dodgers and 2 teams that we don’t know how are going to play out this season in the Padres and Giants. The Cubs have the same youth as the Mets (I know different areas) but are leap years ahead with Maddon as their manager. If the Mets are to stay relevant they have to win their majority of games against Atlanta and Philadelphia and play better than .500 ball at home. Otherwise it’s wait for Wheeler’s return and hope Backman can guide this team to a playoff berth..

  12. March 22, 2015 at 1:14 am

    Every year Terry Collins is the Met manager is a bad year Gus. Every year Fred and his arrogant son are with us is a bad year. Every year Sandy Alderson is with us is a bad year. It’s like watching a hamster on a wheel. He doesn’t understand why he’s in the same spot after running so fast for so long.

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