When you watch baseball – or, really, do anything in life – for a long time, you can kind of get a feel for how things will likely play out. Experience and repeated observation can give a person a sense of what the scientific statisticians like to call probability and outcome. If an experiment is conducted and the forces inherent in the components and/or chemical makeup of the “ingredients” are known, but variable, the person conducting the experiment can predict the outcome of the test with a fair degree of certainty. This is really a long-winded way of repeating Yogi Berra’s quip that “you can observe a lot by seeing.” It’s no different in baseball. You can guess, that if you start training camp with a team that has had a run of success and is bringing back most – if not all – the players responsible for that success, the probability is high that this team will be successful again, depending on the youth and health of those players. Just for argument’s sake, let’s call this team the Atlanta Braves. Conversely, if you have a team that has not been well-run and has brought in veterans who haven’t panned out, who have run into bad injury luck or are simply getting too old to perform at previous levels, the probability is high that your year will end up in the tank. We’ll call this team the Oakland A’s. Pretty obvious, how it works, right?

You might next ask, “Well, what does this have to do with the Mets in 2024?” Fair question that deserves a fair answer. The answer is: who knows?

Owner Steve Cohen and his new front office czar David Stearns have paradoxically labeled 2024 as a “transition” year, one in which they “expect to compete” for at least a playoff spot, if not a World Series title. Going back to the science metaphor, I’m not exactly sure if both these ideas can occupy the same space. These statements are just vague enough to keep us all interested and not adversely affect season ticket sales, while also providing a dose of reality to those of us who may be a little starry-eyed about the upcoming festivities. While we in the fan base can rail to high heaven that Cohen, the richest owner in the game, isn’t spending any money to ensure that latter outcome, we are conveniently ignoring the fact that Cohen is spending money on the highest luxury tax payments in the game’s history and continuing to pay high-salaried players who are no longer on the team. And, no, I’m not even making a Bobby Bonilla joke, here. For his part, Stearns strikes me as a very good poker player. He’s not going to let on what he’s thinking, not to rival GMs and certainly not to the press. This makes him a very good front office exec, but a frustrating figure to the fans. We want to see concrete evidence that this front office team cares as much about the team on the field as we do. There have been some loud talkers railing that Cohen only cares about whatever land deal he can make in the environs of Citi Field – that he’s only interested in his prospective casino, retail space, luxury condo units and soccer stadium and that his ownership of the Mets is a mere minor means to those ends and his hiring of Stearns from small-market Milwaukee is simply a way to cut costs. The players Stearns has brought in are a far cry from the Francisco Lindor/Max Scherzer/Justin Verlander moves of recent winters, to be sure. Can a fan base get all worked up about Tyrone Taylor, Adrian Houser or Jake Diekman? We won’t know until they get out there and perform for real.

Fans hate that.

We want to know. Of course we want to be the Braves, not the A’s, but even in that latter circumstance, we’d know what we were in for. We’d know whether to hang our hopes on guys like Lindor, Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso to bring the glory or do we need to turn our attention to kids like Drew Gilbert and Jett Williams? It’s kind of a rough space for us to try and figure out whether or not to pay attention this year. But at the same time, that’s also part of the beauty of the game we love so much. New things are revealed every day. In 2013 – a dismal, 88-loss campaign – we were treated to Matt Harvey’s flowering. David Wright graced our presence in 2004, a year that saw 91 losses. Conversely, we expected last year, with a rotation anchored by Verlander, Scherzer and Kodai Senga to be a flag-waver, but we were dashed at the trading deadline.

While we’d like to have a pretty good idea, you just never know.

13 comments on “The 2024 Mets’ season is a mystery

  • Mike W

    On the first day of the season, every team is competing for a playoff spot. I think the most realistic prediction may be 78 to 84 wins. I think a lot depends on the bats of Baty and Vientos and how well the starters perform.

    2024 us an extended spring training for the 2025 season.

  • AgingBull

    I generally like what’s been done since the trade deadline last season. They jettisoned a bunch of fading vets and restocked the system. The current roster should be good enough to compete for a wild card. I suppose my expectations have been so beaten down over the years that merely playing games of importance in August and September are more than good enough for me. Hopefully this season we’ll see the makings of the next generation and I can’t wait to see Williams and Gilbert doing their best Dykstra-Backman impersonation, electrifying the top of the order. If Acuna pans out, that might push McNeil to be the super-utility player many great teams have or free him to be traded for more controllable talent. The moves they are making hopefully lead to the sustainability that they’ve stated as the goal from the beginning. Sign me up for that.
    I am most concerned, like most, about 3B and DH. I like that they are giving Baty and Vientos their shot but there aren’t very appealing back-ups, No Plan B, as Brian wrote about recently. They don’t seem to be working out Acuna or Williams over there but that could change if Baty flails in ‘24.
    These are issues, for sure, but I’d rather have these than sweating over having Verlander and Scherzer on the IL to start the season. And can you imagine if the Correa deal had stuck? I think Cohen played loose with free agents for a year or so and learned some valuable lessons.

    • TexasGusCC

      Hi Bull! I don’t know if Baty was Plan A at third base or if Mauricio was. But, the injury allowed Baty to get first dibs and when Mauricio comes back, we will see what he has. Hard to tell right now exactly which one is better.

      Being a “transition year”, the pressure to upgrade from Baty and Vientos if they bomb early will be lessened and will give the team rope to evaluated them for a good four months, maybe the whole year. Then during the winter, if you need a DH that’s easy and so you only have one hole, unless Mauricio gets next year. Either way, this should have happened last year, especially after the deadline, but Buck, ahem Miller Huggins, had to play everybody, including his AAAA players.

  • Woodrow

    Hey Uncle Steve,$ don’t buy happiness. Slow and steady might be the better way to go!

  • T.J.

    Roll up for the 2024 Magical Mystery Tour, it’s waiting to take you away.

    Coming to terms with the gap between the Mets and the Braves or Dodgers, in a strange way I am more interested/curious/excited at the start of 2024 vs. the start of 2023. Maybe that is rationalization. Maybe it is because anything short of getting to the WS in 2023 would have been a disappointment. Low expectations equal less disappointment.

  • Metsense

    Every team doesn’t know for sure how the season will turn out. There is a good idea for the Mets, that will be a struggle to surpass .500 and achieve a playoff position. Stearns want to get under the Luxury Tax, shed the draft penalties and build a team of his own in the future. There is no mystery in that.

    • CharlieH

      Yes, of course, but usually, you have an idea going in: we knew 2013 was going to be a disaster, we knew 2015 would be awesome. I can’t get a read on 2024 yet; it’s that rare season that could truly go either way.

      • TexasGusCC

        You knew 2015 was going to be awesome? You knew that?

        • CharlieH

          I didn’t expect a WS appearance, but an extended playoff run, for sure.

          • Metstabolism

            There were just too many unprecedented things that year: Acquiring seven players at mid-season; Having six of the seven make positive contributions; Yoenis Cespede’ impact, which numerous writers, announcers, and broadcasters, including former players and GMs, referred to as the biggest they’d ever seen from a mid-season acquisition.

  • NYM6986

    We’d all like to be the Braves and not the A’s. I’d settle for being any number of teams who were smart enough to spend on the infrastructure (scouting, player development, strong minor league coaching, and stable organization management). What Cohen bought was none of those attributes, instead he got a tired unstable leadership, the avoidance of going after front line free agent talent versus bargain pick ups, and always operating like a small market team in the Wilpon, I’ll put the extra cash in my pocket rather then spend it, era. Without the last second pickup of Cespedes in 2015, that team would likely have fallen short, despite being competitive.
    There is a good offensive core on this team if the players will simply play to their career averages. They need a hitting coach who can bring a hitter out of a slump and not allow a three week period where their at bats hurt the team. If you turn the narrative around and say we have 6-7 lineup spots in good hands, then we can weather the doubts at 3B and parade different players to jump in at DH if needed. The scary part is our lack of a few really strong anchors in the rotation. It’s certainly a wing and a prayer nearly every start.
    But Kudos to Cohen for understanding that this team is not a few huge free agents away from going over the top. Is Montgomery still worth the multi year contract? I certainly think so. Could they have picked up Bellinger for $27 million a year for three years? Absolutely. Sometimes it’s just Karma. Look back at ‘69 going from worst to first or ‘73 winning just enough in a terrible division to squeak ahead and then having the talent to take the series to 7 games before losing to what was then an A’s mini dynasty. Those were the A’s who played like the Braves.
    There is still sufficient talent to get to a playoff spot this year, with some help at the trade deadline, or having one of those prized prospects being called up and breaking out, not just taking up space.
    Spring hopes eternal. We all start 0-0. Other teams will have their injuries and slumping players and troubles of their own. Why the good teams succeed is because when a player goes down, they have someone at AAA or like the Braves did a few years back, pluck some ready for prime time players off their AA roster,who were ready for their chance to play. Let the games begin!

  • Edwin e Pena

    I understand the moves this year and no one likes paying a $100M+ tax, period. However, this team as constructed could’ve found a way to mfg like 8 more wins than last year’s 77, get to the neighborhood of 85 and have a WC run, if only Mr. Stearns obtained a true DH and one more established starter. He didn’t do either and this will haunt them this year. One more starter, like say J. Montgomery, and a real experienced DH, like JD Martinez, and I could see this team snatching a WC and competing. Arizona D’Backs did that and so have the Marlins in the past. Losing Senga for probably April was the trigger to get another starter. Didn’t happen. Looking at the roster and basically handing the DH spot to a youngster like Vientos is another big mistake IMO. I hope I am wrong but these two “no moves” will keep the Mets back and maybe even fourth in their own division. Stearns lack of moves did that. Welcome to 2024, “punt year”. ; (

    • Metstabolism

      I question whether one starter and one DH would make them 8 games better. Which starter is out there that can reliably get a 4 WAR? (Key word reliably).
      So I am curious which starter you would have liked to add.
      I also place little value on backing into an 85-win season that ends in a wild card or divisional series loss, if the moves made to get there handicap or set the team back the following year.
      And by the way, would 85 wins even get them into the playoffs? It took 87 wins in 2022,so we can’t assume last year was the norm. And it would’ve taken 87 or more in 4 of the 6 years 2016 thru 2021 (not counting the COVID-shortened 2020 season). Let’s also consider that there was no 3rd wild card in those years. So a larger number of teams were giving up at the trade deadline, rather than adding. Had they added in pursuit of that 3rd WC, the win totals might have gone even higher.

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