Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018 Pre-Season Profile: New York Mets


The New York Mets fought through injuries in 2017 to have a poor season in a poor division.  Will a return of some key pieces and a change in manager bring about a better result in 2018?

2017 Predictions
2nd in NL East, WILD CARD, lose in NLDS
Noah Syndergaard will win the NL Cy Young.

2017 Results
70-92, 4th in NL East

The Mets have built their roster on a dynamic young pitching staff with just enough offense to support it.  Well, when only one of their five aces makes more than 20 starts in the season (including only 7 stars from Noah Syndergaard, the best of the bunch), it sets the team up for failure.  When Thor went down early in the season, obviously my prediction went out the window with his season.

Additions / Subtractions

The Mets made some very interesting moves over the offseason.  First, after trading away Jay Bruce to the Indians mid-season last year, the Mets were able to bring him back.  Then they brought in veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Todd Frazier to man the corner infield spots.  They brought in starter Jason Vargas to bring some stability to their oft-injured rotation.  The biggest move the Mets made was letting manager Terry Collins go and bringing in Mickey Callaway, former pitching coach of the Indians, as their new manager.

Most Important Hitter
Yoenis Cespedes

Like I said, their team is built around their pitching.  However, ever since the Mets traded for Cespedes in 2015, their offense has lived and died with his production.  When he is hot, the Mets are hot.  When he is cold, the Mets are cold.  If the Mets are going to have a successful season, Cespedes needs to be MVP caliber.

Most Important Pitcher
Noah Syndergaard

Before his injury last season, Noah Syndergaard had been emerging as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.  As such an imposing figure on the mound and with such electric stuff, it is easy to see why Thor is so good.  The Mets are expecting Syndergaard to be back to the freak he was before the injury, and the early returns from Spring Training say he is.  An injury-free season from Thor will make for a much better season for the Mets.

Prospect to Watch
Marcos Molina

One problem with the Mets is they currently have a poor farm system.  No players in their farm system are in baseball's Top 100 prospects, and none of their top 7 prospects are expected to make their debuts in the big leagues in the next year or two.  The best prospect that is closest to the Show is Marcos Molina, a 23 year old Dominican pitcher.  A recent elbow injury derailed some of his progress, and he has a lot of pitchers on the roster in front of him, but a lively arm like his might be able to help out the bullpen down the stretch.

2018 Prediction
4th in AL East

I do not have high hopes for the Mets this year.  A manager that is pitching-centric will help, but I don't know if we will ever see the Syndergaard/deGrom/Harvey/Matz/Wheeler rotation dominate the league like everyone thought they would when they first debuted.  Their offense is relying on comeback years from some aging veterans.  The arms are not going to stay healthy.  Add that to the fact that some of the other teams in the division have young cores that are ready to explode onto the scene, and the Mets will struggle to gain ground.  2018 could be entertaining for the Mets, but not successful.

Fearless Prediction
The Mets rotation will not see one trip through feature Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler again.

At this point, it looks like it would take an injury from Jason Vargas for this to happen in 2018 (and all of them to get and remain healthy).  It is easy to see a scenario where guys like Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler end up traded or on other rosters by the end of the season.  With other starters like Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman in the fold, they are definitely starting pitcher wealthy and could part with some to build up the struggling farm system.  This dream rotation they built seems to be over before it ever really got started.  The encouraging part is the Mets might be better off without it.

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