For anyone out there who became a Mets fan this season, you need to understand something. This team was not meant to be awful. We were not supposed to be 25 games out of first place and 14 out of wild card contention. We were not supposed to be trotting out lineups full of guys you never heard of before. We were, in fact, supposed to be serious contenders this year. Really.
You see, two years ago this team won the pennant behind a phenomenal young power pitching staff that was the envy of all of baseball. And last year, despite a few injuries and hiccups, they made it back to the playoffs. Along with all those young hurlers, the team had a nice collection of veteran power hitters, a solid bullpen and even a pretty deep bench in case there were a few injuries. There was all sorts of optimism in spring training with talk of this team making the playoffs for the third year in a row for the first time in Mets history.
So, what the hell happened you ask? Well, to say things didn’t go as planned is an understatement. Every pitcher not named Jacob deGrom or Jerry Blevins suffered a serious injury. And the only hitters not to join them on the disabled list were pending free agents traded to save money in a lost season. So if you want to know where all the good players are, look at the disabled list where you’ll find most of our rotation, our brightest young star hitter, and a host of other Mets. Check the box scores around the league too and you’ll notice good players like Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda, and Rene Rivera helping out playoff hopeful teams. Not long ago those six guys helped round out a good Mets team. Now we have lots of holes to fill in the off-season, but wait, first we have to get all these guys off the disabled list. No wait, that’s second. First is seeing if their replacements can play this game.
Did I mention that both the manager and general manager might not be back next year? It’s overwhelming, I know. Still don’t believe that this awful team was expected to be good this year? A few points to consider:
– If any five of the seven healthy starting pitchers we had in spring training stayed off the disabled list, we’d have had one of the top rotations in baseball.
– Our lineup was loaded with power and our bench was deep.
– The bullpen was in trouble already thanks to disappointing years from two of our key middle relievers. But the injury to our closer was tough to overcome.
– Our best hitter missed half the season with a variety of leg injuries.
– This team had a few notable weaknesses – lack of team speed, less than average infield defense – but they could have been addressed at the trade deadline as the power pitchers and home run hitters kept us in contention in the first half. Or so, that was the plan.
Before the 2017 season started, this looked like a 90-plus win, playoff bound team with the depth to overcome a reasonable amount of injuries. This blogger noted four key players that had to stay healthy that couldn’t be replaced – Yoenis Cespedes, Jeurys Familia, and two out of three of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey. All but deGrom suffered serious injuries that derailed their seasons.
Next year’s team will look a lot different, but deep within the roster and disabled list is the makings of a core that can be built around.