I'm going to let you in on a dirty little secret most Mets fans aren't prepared to accept. The Mets won't contend in 2014, and to some extent they were never supposed to. There was an underwritten notion that the Mets had methodically broken down their payroll and developed young talent for some grand resurgence in 2014. The resurgence is coming, but it still has some time to take shape.
Don't get me wrong, the Mets will be a better team in 2014. They have most definitely outspent the expectations of writers and fans alike this winter. They've improved the outfield, if only slightly, and brought it a suitable short-term replacement for Matt Harvey. By all means, a solid winter. However, its only the start of something bigger.
Sandy Alderson's plan is one of affordable, sustained excellence. Here is how he makes that happen:
Winter 2013 - A successful offseason is capped of by the acquisition of a promising young shortstop. Completing a trade for such a player not only upgrades the position, but spares payroll in the future. As a result, Alderson will have addressed each of the teams major needs his winter.
Summer 2014 - The Mets will have an opportunity to evaluate the likes of Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares. Do either have a spot in the future with the Mets? We'll know by season's end. You can also look for players like Travis d'Arnaud and Zack Wheeler to transition into full-time major leaguers. They may not dominate, but progress is paramount and the future takes shape in flushing.
Winter 2014 - The offseason will actually be more important to the future of the franchise than last. Alderson replaces Chris Young with player who hits for both average and some power (think Aoki). He'll also upgrade at first base, as the holes in Duda's game proved too costly over the course of a 162 game season.
Summer 2015 - This is the first season that the Mets present a real playoff threat. A rotation of Harvey-Syndergaard-Wheeler-Niese-Gee leads a now truly renovated roster. Fans will now have plenty to get excited about as payroll creeps above $100 million. The Mets will play meaningful September baseball for the first time in a long time.
Winter 2015 - Alderson now knows what he has and has to keep the momentum going forward. He'll have to replace Colon, but the real goal of the offseason is to find that one big missing piece. What do the Mets need most? What puts them over the edge? This offseason is made on finding that player.
Summer 2016 - On paper the Mets are ready to contend for a World Series. Fans will be rewarded for their patience as Citi Field fills on a nightly basis from start to finish. The Mets rotation remains its driving force, but now the offense can keep pace. 2016 starts a window of opportunity for the Mets, and it will have been nearly a decade in the making.
You're probably thinking I'm nuts right now. I know these predictions require that most things go right for the Mets, a team that isn't known for its luck. However, if you're able to look past a roster which still has some glaring holes, you'll find that the foundation has already been laid. You're tired of losing, but the Mets are finally moving forward. There is still some work to be done, but for the first time in years there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
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