Players To Keep Your Eye On:
Curtis Granderson - His first season in Queens was just shy of a total loss. However, with Kevin Long back in his corner and a full season of baseball on the other side of town behind him, I suspect we'll see better results. At 34 years hold, his best seasons are still well behind him, but a season ending with a .245/30/80 line would be a welcomed bump to a Mets offense looking to support its pitching staff.
Travis d'Arnaud - One of the only Mets who's bat isn't red hot as the team moves north to start the year, Travis 2014 was the tale of two halves. Will this seasons' version be the guy who hit just .180 before being sent down to AAA, or the one who returned to hit .272 the rest of the way? If its the former, it will be interesting to see how quickly Kevin Plawecki forces his way into the lineup. Don't think that won't weigh on his mind if he gets off to a slow start.
Players I'm Worried About:
Jacob deGrom - I hope I'm wrong, because this won't be a popular opinion... I realize he is the reigning Rookie of the Year and is also coming off of a strong Grapefruit League showing, but I'm just not convinced yet that he is an elite pitcher. Perhaps its the pessimist in me and I'm certainly no scout, but I want to see how the league fairs now that they've got film on him. Regardless, I'd be semi-surprised to see him replicate his sub-3.00 ERA.
Michael Cuddyer - I was on the record a few times prior to his acquisition that I believed the Cuddyer was the best fit (not the best player available) for the Mets situation. He hits for a high average, has power, and could be had for a short-term relatively cheap deal. Even better, he can double at first base. But history doesn't lie. Injuries are more likely derail his season than poor performance, and if he misses significant time it impacts both the infield and outfield depth. With that said, if he stays on the field, he most definitely changes the complexion of the lineup.
No matter what way you cut it, this is the first time since probably 2008 that the Mets could be deemed a legitimate threat to reach the post season, thanks in-part to the addition of the second Wild Card team. I expect the team's pitching to carry them through the majority of the season, especially considering the depth still residing in Las Vegas should another arm come up lame. What does that mean? At a bare minimum, it should mean some interesting September baseball. Can they get over the hump? I suppose that will be determined by just how good, or bad, the team's offense ends up being.
Where will they end up? I honestly believe there is a recipe where the team can approach 90 wins and make the Nationals sweat down the stretch. That recipe includes a lineup that not only remains healthy, but also exceeds expectations on the offensive front. Lets not forget though, we're talking about the Mets. Although they may not be the snake bitten team of a few years ago, its rare that any team escapes the season without a major injury or two. I also question the organizations ability and/or willingness the make a critical addition at the deadline if they are still in the hunt.
Those reasons cause me to temper my expectations for the upcoming season. My guess for the 2015 Mets is 85 wins. Ultimately, that means they'll remain in the mix until the final week of the season leaving fans with little more than disappointment and questions about what could have been. The Mets are close, but there are still some steps to be taken before they're prepared to make a run at the pennant.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know on Twitter at @RobPatterson83