10. New York Mets
Most intriguing player: Matt Harvey. Back from Tommy John surgery, Harvey was as good as any pitcher in baseball in 2013 before his injury. He’ll be ready Opening Day. But will he be Matt Harvey, Cy Young contender?
Due for a better year: David Wright played through a shoulder problem — a bruised rotator cuff that sapped his power and finally forced him to shut things down in September. From 2009 to 2013, he hit .323/.412/.536 against fastballs; in 2014, he hit .281/.337/.363. A healthy Wright should be worth three to four extra wins for the Mets.
Due for a worse year: I’ll take the under on Lucas Duda hitting 30 home runs again. Although I think he’ll come close and be a pretty valuable contributor. It’s one reason I like the Mets — the lack of obvious decline candidates.
I’m just the messenger: The problem with the Cuddyer signing is obvious: He doesn’t have much range in right field, he’s coming of a season in which he played just 49 games and while he hit .332 and .331 the past two seasons, he’d never hit .300 before going to the Rockies. And he turns 36 in March. The Mets signed Cuddyer and then apparently the Wilpons ran out of money because Sandy Alderson could have gone on vacation the rest of the winter.
The final word: And yet … I’m picking the Mets to win a wild card! My gut says either the Mets or the Marlins win a wild card, thanks in part to how bad the Phillies and Braves may be. I like the Mets better because of the depth in the rotation. Rookie of the YearJacob deGrom is the real deal and Zack Wheeler has the arm strength and now the experience to take a leap forward. Obviously, a lot hinges on the comeback of Harvey and return to form of Wright. Everybody’s concerned about Wilmer Flores at shortstop, but he doesn’t project to be as terrible as everyone thinks. Anyway, every year there’s at least one team that climbs from under .500 into the postseason (actually, there were two last season and three in 2013). The Mets are my pick for 2015.
Earlier today ESPN came out with their Pre-Season Power rankings and one of the biggest surprises for people around the league was the Metsies sitting at number 10. Does this mean anything in terms of actual wins and losses on the field? No, absolutely not, but what it does do is it starts to validate what we’ve been doing for the past 6 years or so. People around baseball are finally taking notice of the Mets. Last season they hung around all year, but never made that extra push that they needed to get to get in contention for the wild card. But this year after the acquisition of Michael Cuddyer, all the experts are looking at the Mets as a team ready to win. People who say the Mets did nothing besides get Cuddyer in the offseason are just plain stupid. We have Matt Harvey coming back this year, so with that being the case it’s almost like we signed one of the best pitchers in baseball for free (well, not free, but you know what I mean).
This is actually a very fair outlook of the Mets season. Usually I hate the baseball guys at ESPN because all they do is overlook and hate on the Mets, but I’m starting to think that’s only the super nerds Buster Olney and Tim Kurjin (that’s not how you spell his name I know), so I like David Schoenfield. This guy gave the Mets the credit where credit is due. He saw Harvey coming back as a big question mark, but also said that it’s possible for him to return to Cy Young form. I actually think he’s giving David Wright a little to much credit. This is a guy who hasn’t been an elite 3rd baseman since 2012, but that could be attributed to the slew of injuries he’s obtained. I think he’s wrong about Lucas Duda, sure he’ll hit less home runs, but he’ll be more productive because he will be facing mostly righties. I’ve been saying since the start that the Cuddyer signing is a risk so he just backs me up on that.
However, the big news comes when he says he’s picking the Mets to win a wild card spot. I completely agree with this (obviously). The Nationals are a better regular season team then us right now but get us in the playoffs healthy and we’re one of the best teams in baseball. Our rotation is lethal, our hitting is going to surprise a lot of people and the Mets are a freight train from hell this season.
This isn’t my official prediction, but 86-76 is in the right ballpark (pun definitely intended). I would think the Mets would be closer to ninety but with the amount of risks on this team, this guys covering his own ass with 86 wins. I’d go 89 but I’ll discuss that in my post spring training season preview. Until then, we’re top 10 baby!!!