It’s a new year and a renewed hope in the New York Mets organization for 2015. Gone is the mentality that this team is “building for the future”. The future is now. In 2014, the team was considered up and coming and finished in second place.
This year, they will take no one by surprise. With that said, there are many things to look forward to in the upcoming year and not just during the season. As the calendar turns, so does the MLB schedule of events. It will be a very busy next few months before the team even takes the field.
First, on January 6, the Hall of Fame announces their newest inductees. At the top of the short list of players that just missed out last year and are favored to make it in this year, is Mike Piazza. If he makes it in, there will be plenty to talk about. For example, which team will he go in representing?
As we all learned a few years ago with Gary Carter, the player doesn’t have the final say in that. If he goes in as a Dodger, it will spark quite the controversy. If he does make it in, it should make for a very fun summer for Mets fans.
Then again, if he doesn’t make it this year, there will, also, be plenty to talk about. I’m sure PED’s will be at the top of that conversation and I’m sure that debate will go on for yet another year.
Secondly, is the offense. There are several things to consider when talking about the offense. With the highly anticipated return of team captain, David Wright to the lineup, the offense seems once again balanced. If he is completely healthy, can he rebound back to the player he once was?
It, also, will be interesting to see how Wright’s pal Michael Cuddyer adjusts to the confines of Citi Field as opposed to hitter-friendly Coors Field. Is Daniel Murphy going to be the same hitter he was prior to his injury last year? Was last season a fluke or a coming out party for Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud? Can Curtis Granderson build off of last season and be the strength at the top of the order that the team needs?
In addition, a healthy offense with a new hitting coach will be a refreshing sight. For example, and speaking of Granderson, new hitting coach Kevin Long has been credited for helping Curtis Granderson improve in his career against lefty pitchers.
If he can do the same with Granderson again, Lucas Duda and the others, this offense could be lethal. Of course, that is predicated on him helping them adapt better to Citi Field. He’s not in small Yankees Stadium anymore, after all.
Finally, is the complete pitching staff. With two major pitchers returning from injuries and adding to a young, dominant starting staff and bullpen, the culmination could be special. Matt Harvey is most likely going to be ready by the team home opener.
Add him to Zack Wheeler, reigning Rookie of the Year winner, Jacob deGrom, Jonathan Niese and Bartolo Colon (most likely), you have an imposing rotation for the National League to face. If they continue to go deep into games and give quality starts, they can hand the ball over to a lethal bullpen to close out the final three innings and secure a win.
This staff and bullpen combined could be on auto-pilot when given a lead. That can result in a lot of wins. Shortly after the return of Harvey, the team will see the return of Bobby Parnell to the back end of the pen. Add him to a confident Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia, the last three innings are all but secured.
All we have to do is go as far back as last season’s Kansas City Royals to see what a dominant bullpen can do. The concept can and, most likely, will be the same in Queens, thanks to these three.
In closing, the 2015 version of the New York Mets and baseball, in general, should give us a lot to look forward to in the coming year and it all starts in just a few days.
Happy New Year, Mets fans!
5 comments on “New York Mets: Three things to look forward to in 2015”
Happy New Year Frank.
Would like to throw in a few more soon to be debated topics:
1. Who will leadoff? Is Lagares sufficient for the role? His OBP will be examined land re-examined continuously.
2. Should the team give up on Puello? They did sign Mayberry for a reason.
3. If Long did that with Duda, why can’t the Mets allow Duda to become a full time player and play him against lefties, but move him down like the Cardinals do with Matt Adams, the Twins did with David Ortiz, and many teams do rather than just benching the guy against lefties?
As an aside from my third question, does anyone else agree with me that the Mets should still be in development/growth mode or do y’all feel they should go all out to win? I mean, if they’re going to always be dollar shy in filling holes, why not develop to the best ability possible; and, that is if Duda can ever learn to handle lefties. But, should they let him? I say yes, but with Cuddyer and Mayberry here… They didn’t sign them for no reason.
1. Lagares’ OBP was only .321 last year, too low for a lead-off hitter. But look at the alternatives. Daniel Murphy’s OBP was only .332 last year (and
.319 the year before), while Granderson’s was .326. There really isn’t a good option on the current roster. Let’s hope Lagares’ hitting continues to improve.
2. I certainly don’t want the team to give up on Puello. Granted his offensive game was all but nonexistant for a good part of last year. But even at his worst he mashed lefties. Platoon him with Kirk and I think you would have a pretty decent outfielder. That is without even considering his potential to turn into that outfielder all by himself. But he is out of options. Assuming everyone is healthy to start the season, the bench will be Kirk (also out of options), Mayberry, Recker, and Tejada. Now Puello could be the 5th guy, but that would leave Tejada as the only back up infielder. Flores and Murphy have some flexibility, but it does you little good since Tejada is the only one that could fill in at 2nd or Short. It might work for a while and there could of course be an injury or 7 to start the season. I really hope he has a great Spring.
3. I don’t think the question is can we play Duda against lefties if we move him down in the order. The question is what lineup will score the most runs? How do we get the most production out of 1st Base? Maybe if Duda was a star of the magnitude of David Ortiz, but he hit 30 home runs last year being platooned with Eric Campbell. I doubt he will be offended sitting for Mayberry.
Oh one other thing to consider about Puello. We can expect that at some point next year Cuddyer will be on the DL (though hopefully not as long as last season). We have a number of outfielders that could fill in and hit well against righties (Kirk, MDD, and potentially Nimmo). But they all have marked platoon splits and Mayberry can play for Duda or Kirk (for example), but not both at the same time. If Cuddyer does go down, we will be much better off, I think, with Puello in the outfield than Campbell.
Thoughtful comment, TexasGusCC. I agree with you about still being in development/growth mode. I think the team is already in a position to legitimately compete for a playoff spot. And while, sure, I’d love to upgrade at SS (and elsewhere), I don’t want to see them both blow up their farm & paint themselves into a payroll corner to do it. As for your other thoughts:
1. Lagares is probably the default Plan A at the moment, although I like playing around with lineup constructions that find Murphy there, too. Granderson will also probably get time there. They’re kind of stuck hoping a good option emerges, though, be it Lagares or someone else, because they don’t have an obvious choice.
2. Not bringing Puello up at all last year, and not even playing him everyday in AAA, makes me think they’ve already given up on him. And yet, he remains on the 40-man. Mayberry would seem to occupy the same niche. My guess is that they’ll keep him rostered until the end of Spring Training in the hopes that they can push him through waivers as the season starts, since other teams are less likely to claim a player without options at that point. If they can clear him, the buy themselves one more year of AAA evaluation, and a little bit of depth if Mayberry gets hurt or fizzles. Pretty clear Puello’s not a prominent part of their plans, though.
3. Yup, I’m fine with this approach. If I’m betting, I say Duda will struggle against lefties in 2015. Which would still represent a dramatic improvement over what he did against them in 2014. I still think it’s likely he sits against lefties who are especially tough on other lefties. Which makes sense, given that Cuddyer can shift to 1B & Mayberry can play RF. I don’t expect it to be a straight platoon, though.
I don’t think our bullpen is as solid as some suggest. While Mejia did a fine job, he also walked a ton of guys and dealt with injury, as did Black. Parnell coming back to form is about as far from a sure thing as it gets. And this might be the year innings catch up to Torres. While I still consider the pen a general strength of the team, it is not in the same league as the Royals of a year ago.