The other day, Metsblog’s Matthew Cerrone dropped a nice little tidbit. According to one pre-season book, the Mets head into winter at 20-to-1 to win the 2018 World Series. Now that may not sound too fantastic, but it puts them eighth in line, odds-wise, behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, the defending champ Houston Astros, the Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.
Eighth place in this group gets you into the playoffs. Just sayin’…
Why would Las Vegas be so optimistic? What does Westgate SportsBook see what we don’t? This is a team whose starting pitching staff, the putative backbone of the squad, has been decimated by injuries for the last two seasons. After the July/August yard sale, the offense is missing a lot of power, as well as the proverbial “veteran presence.” The infield defense could generously be described as “rickety.” Their second best position player will be on the shelf probably until Memorial Day at the earliest. Their best position player has battled balky hamstrings since he’s been here. Their spiritual leader won’t have swung a bat and meant it in three years. Their bullpen is a ragtag collection of arms, none reliable enough to be called “closer” at this point. On the MLB Network yesterday, writer Anthony Castrovince called the Mets “the most fascinating team in the NL East,” a nod to all the work that faces GM Sandy Alderson and the new on-field coaching and training staff this winter.
Perhaps the odds makers are banking on a complete return to health of those seven potential studs on the hill. Maybe they’re expecting breakouts from Michael Conforto – even in a truncated season – and Yoenis Cespedes. Maybe Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith impressed the locals with their performances for the team’s AAA club. Maybe the bullpen is stronger than we think.
Or maybe, they don’t know a damn thing and are just spitballing to pass the time until the Winter Meetings.
Putting out a prediction at this point in the offseason is truly a fool’s game. Those Winter Meetings – MLB’s annual trade show, swap meet and boozefest – don’t begin for another month. It’s quite possible the makeup of the Mets will look vastly different by the time they’re over. Once all the glad-handing and super-secret negotiations are done, we’ll all have a much clearer picture of what may lie in store in 2018. Color me happy if they come away with one more power hitter, an innings-eating pitcher – boy, those Bartolo Colon jokes just write themselves, don’t they? – and another reliever to bolster the Jerry Blevins/AJ Ramos/Jeurys Familia triumvirate at the front of the bullpen. If that happens, then we’ll have a much better idea if the Mets truly belong in the same conversation as all those big buffaloes in front of them on this preliminary list. We’ll see if they’re eighth-or-better. We’ll see if they’re a playoff team.
A hundred down at 20-to-1? Get back to me in March and I’ll let you know if I make that bet.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.