As the offseason starts to wind down, the Mets and their fans have got a pretty good idea of what the team is going to look like this upcoming season. Despite what appears to be a few remaining opportunities for upgrades both at shortstop and within the bullpen, the team's roster appears to be just about set. So I ask, will this edition of the New York Mets be any better than the one that preceeded it?
I'm sure there will be some who believe that not enough happened this winter. The team didn't spend enough, didn't spend wisely enough and simply didn't do what they said they were going to do. All of those are up for debate, but that is an argument for when the offseason actually comes to a close, when the roster is set in stone and when we know precisely whats been done this winter. For now though, I'll ask again..Have the Mets gotten better?
To date, the Mets have reinvested the majority of the payroll that came off the books at the close of 2013. Major acquisitions include Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon, and Chris Young. Depth signings to date are limited to John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka. What does all of that amount to?
If I had to guess, I think the Mets as they stand today have a lot more potential for a few different reasons. First and foremost, I believe the Curtis Granderson will provide slightly better numbers in replacing Marlon Byrd. I think the same can be said for Chris Young, who will look to outperform the hodgepodge that was Lucas Duda and Eric Young Jr. in 2013. Then there is Bartolo Colon. Don't get me wrong, I don't think for one second Colon replaces the dominance we saw from Matt Harvey in 2013, however I do believe he can benefit from an improved offense that could not support Harvey last season.
The other reason I believe the 2014 Mets can have better results, is I think you will see increased performance from shortstop, first base and catcher. Its important to remember that offensive production from these spots was almost non-existent last year. I think you will see bounce back seasons (to some extent) from Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis, if they do indeed take the field on opening day. While I don't think Tejada will hit .300 and I don't foresee Davis slugging 30 home runs, I do think moderate improvements on their part assist the offense as a whole. Finally, I believe we'll see the Travis d'Arnaud start to take shape.
What does all of this mean? When I said the 2014 Mets have much higher potential then their predecessors, I don't mean to infer this is a playoff team as it sits today. I do however, feel that 74 wins is the absolute floor for this group. I think .500 is a realistic expectation and that if some things break their way, we could see a ten game improvement over the 2013 squad. Ten games would mean 84 wins, and while that shouldn't be good enough to earn them a playoff spot, it is the recipe for some meaningful September baseball.
Yes, I believe the 2014 Mets will be better. Just how much better of course remains to be seen. While the ultimate goal should always be the playoffs and a World Series Championship, I don't believe anything short of that would be a failure. I want to, and expect to see progress. That won't be enough for some people, but I still believe this organization wasn't ravaged by bad contracts and financial woes in one year, and therefore it will take more than one year to remedy. That's why I'll take what I can get this year, and then look for the team to take another step forward, just like they've done this winter, in 2015.