I just did like my eighth loop through my kitchen looking for something to eat. I’ve been smoking and sucking down my vape pen and then I made myself a walkway across my porch in the snow to the bar so I could eat a weed gummy bear that was out there too. Now I’m sitting here on my couch stoney baloney thinking about Mets baseball. I’m fucking excited. We should all be excited. I’m 24 years old and I can’t remember being this excited. Drown out all that other noise and be excited. We have a ton of talent at every position and the swagger is real and you can feel it already. I guess what I want to do is go through every position and talk about it a bit and hopefully by the end of this you will be as excited as I am right now, stoned by myself, watching the NCAA Tournament on my parent’s couch. Here we go.
I’m gonna work my way around the infield to start, so lets go behind the plate. Travis D’Arnaud is (not) a Canadian guy. My perception of him has always been based off this (fake) fact. I can’t really recall him saying anything ever, but he is (not) a Canadian guy. Sure, his Wikipedia page says he’s from Long Beach, but Travis fits too perfectly as a Canadian. I’ve lived the past 3-4 years believing this probably because we stole him (and Thor, more on him later) from Toronto, and that fact stuck with me. But enough about me, let’s talk about Travis. I remember reading about him as a prospect when we traded for him. Dude was the centerpiece of the Dickey deal, people forget that. Syndergaard was also somebody we were after, but D’Arnaud was at the time a top 15 prospect in baseball (@ me Keith Law). Literally since then, it’s been pretty much the same every year. Travis has a ton of potential at the plate, and when his swing is right he has shown us what he can be, which is one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. He can hit for contact and bang out 20 home runs if he can stay on the field, but he can’t stay on the field. It’s no longer an If because it happens every year. But this year is going to be different because he’s playing really well in spring training and also because Kevin Long changed his swing completely, which always results in immediate success. Let’s not worry about his defense because Thor and DeGrom and Matz and (some combination of) Harvey, Wheeler, Gsellman, and Lugo are gonna strike out 1000 batters.
Rene Rivera, our backup catcher, is the anti Travis D’Arnaud because not at any point have I ever thought he was Canadian, and once again we should enter this season with very low offensive expectations for him, in order to guarantee that he will exceed them. He will hit 3-4 game changing homeruns and he will play good defense every time he starts. Pretty much everything you want out of a backup catcher.
Lucas Duda is a guy who I have grown to love. He seems weird and awkward and he seems like the type of guy who goes back to his hotel on road trips and calls his mid-western mom and tells her about the hi-jinks that happened around the team that day. Like maybe he was just always good at baseball but other than that had a really hard time socially growing up. Everyone (who played sports) knows that guy. This is all hypothetical, but there is evidence that supports this (Grandy’s Duda-themed instagram account, where they pretty much bully him by taking pics of him all day). Any who, much like D’Arnaud, Duda this year is gonna be all about health. Anybody who has watched the Mets over the last 3 years knows what he can do. Lucas hits fucking bombs, and when he is locked in there aren’t many guys more dangerous in the MLB. He goes on weeklong hot streaks where he hits like 5 HRs in 7 games and then he goes ice cold but then you forgive him when he gets hot again. His glove is solid, borderline good, and he’s never made any throwing errors I can remember, so let’s not talk about that anymore. He is coming off a pretty significant back surgery. Is that bad? Hard to say, but after a minor hip flare up he has looked very legit this spring so let’s hope he stays healthy and does what we know he can do.
Neil Walker is actually good. I’ll start us there. But let’s backtrack a bit. When we got rid of Murphy I was a little frustrated because he had just dominated the National League on the way to the World Series and he had been around for a while and was the type of guy who reminded me of how far the Mets had come the past few years. There’s nothing more Mets than having a guy blow up and then watching him leave for a rival. Then we traded Niese for Walker straight up and I was “literally like so whatever” about it. Neil was supposed to be a slight defensive upgrade, and a slight offensive downgrade, which made sense for a team composed the way the Mets are, with a ton of power arms and a few sluggers to help us win. Then last year happened and now Neil Walker is that fucking dude. His glove is adequate but having that kinda offensive production from your switch-hitting 2nd baseman changes the whole lineup for the better. You can bat him anywhere from 2-7 and expect that he’s gonna come thru with a big hit or dinger a few times a month. So far this spring training he’s been doing exactly what he did last year, so I think we can just double down on that and sit back and watch him do his thing. 15 HRs and 60 RBIs and anything above like .270 would be an awesome year from Neil, which I think is pretty doable.
Asdrubal Cabrera, or The Ass Man as I like to call him, is going to be getting the majority of starts at short for us again this year. I am happy with that for a few reasons. The first reason is The Ass Man was the shit last year. His 11th inning walk-off against the Phillies, with that savage ass bat flip, was one of the best moments in the last few years. He has pretty much been your league average shortstop on both sides of the ball for the past few years, but last year his power on offense added an extra weapon to the lineup we really needed. He can come up from either side of the plate and send one flying, and always seems to step up when the situation calls for it. He’s not going to be making diving stops across the middle or making weekly appearances on the Top-10, but he will make every play we need him to and he will also be apart of all the great team camaraderie shenanigans that go on between him and Reyes and Cespedes and all the other latin guys, which is something every team needs.
Amed Rosario, our 21-year-old stud shortstop prospect, is knocking on the door in AAA and will almost surely be ready for a cup of tea with the squad this summer in an attempt to lock down the job for 2018, which is perfect because The Ass Man will be a free agent after this season. Let’s enjoy the consummate pro before we hand the keys over to the budding superstar.
This one should be much harder for me to write than it actually is going to be, because as a lifelong Mets fan, David Wright obviously holds a special place in my heart. He is another guy, like Murphy, who has literally been here for so long and been through so many ups and downs, something any Mets fan can attest to. He came up in 2004, pushing former Mets great Ty Wiggington out of the picture, and has been pretty much the face of the franchise ever since. When he was healthy, he was an MVP candidate and someone who allowed Mets fans like myself to hold my head high in the face of shit talking from Yankee fans, because at least we had like one guy who people would have to admit was legit. I won’t go into the timeline of his career because I want you guys to keep reading and not kill yourself, but let’s just say he’s been here for all the fun of the past 14 years. David Wright is a good dude, but I DON’T EXPECT ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING FROM HIM ANYMORE, and if you do then you’re sad and I feel bad for you. It’s over for him, and that’s okay. Jose Reyes (ever heard of him?) is gonna step in at 3rd base for us this year, which is great news folks. He will bring speed to the leadoff position, which is actually good as well. He is NOT the Jose of old, so let’s squash that right now, but if he can give us what he gave us last year, or even a little less than that, we have a guy who can play anywhere in the infield, get on base, hit for some pop and still steal 20-25 bases. His glove is still good enough and his arm is still good enough for him to hold his own at 3rd as if he’s played there his whole career, which will be plenty good enough if our pitching continues to miss bats like we expect it too. The x-factor in all of this is Jose Reyes is our squads hype man. He’s provocative; he gets the people going. He cheers and claps and dances and makes up secret handshakes and goes live on instagram while hes driving and sings to songs I cant understand. It’s all fun and it makes me feel young again and you should be excited by all of this because there are going to be at least 5 moments this year where you watch a Mets game and think, “Damn, nobody is having more fun right now than Reyes.” And that’s a cool guy to have on your team.
I just typed Left Field and then did this weird smirky smiley thing because I started thinking about Cespedes hitting a bomb late in a game to win it for us and that shit makes my nuts tremble. Yoenis Cespedes is this team personified, because as he goes, we go. His swagger is electric. His whole aura screams “I’m here to hit fucking bombs and there’s nothing you can do about it except sit back and explain to your grandparents why I’m wearing fluorescent colors.” He is the exact kind of personality you want in the heart of your lineup for a New York squad. He’s just fucking big time. We haven’t had a guy like him since prime Beltran but even he never brought the energy that Cespedes does. Sure, he’s gonna make his stupid mistakes in the outfield like dropping a ball that he tries to catch with one hand, or overthrowing a cutoff man and letting someone advance behind the throw, but if that bothers you you’re a fucking pussy and you should go read a book. Cespedes is a homerun hitting, cock fighting (true story), scotch drinking, cigar smoking stud and when we win the World Series this year, he is gonna be our Gronkowski, doing stupid shit on the parade float, except people will probably be rattled by it because he isn’t white. Oh well. 30 HRs, 100 RBIs, .280 BA is the floor, but Yo’ says he wants to win MVP this year, and by the looks of his swing so far this spring, I’m setting my sights on 40 HRs, 120 RBIs, .280 BA and a fat ass cigar when we clinch the NL East in mid-September.
This is one of the positions where things start to get a little tricky as we look towards the season. The Mets have said they are going to pretty much platoon Curtis Granderson and Juan Lagares, which sounds like a pretty legit lefty/righty duo. Lagares will start against lefties, something he has shown he can be successful at with impressive consistency. He apparently has shown more power of late than he has in the past, and should be able to get enough good swings in to hold that spot down. His defense and throwing arm are obviously his strengths, as he already has a Gold Glove Award to his name. His defense pretty much makes takes his average offensive output and makes it even more impressive because as long as he isn’t the worst hitter ever, you are going to want him on the field. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown enough consistency yet against righties to warrant the every day job. This is not an ideal conclusion, but one that the Mets are more than capable of overcoming because we also have Curtis Granderson.
Grandy’s career is a fascinating one, because he came up as a center fielder who ran around and hit for contact, with some pop and he stole some bases and did a lot of good things, but has now fully transitioned into a guy who can hit 30 HRs out of the leadoff spot, but only have 60 RBIs because he either hits a homerun or strikes out and it is what it is. He fits perfectly into the platoon with Lagares because even though he is nowhere near the defender Juan is, he can hold his own enough to warrant the playing time with his game-changing bat. In an ideal world, I always hoped Lagares would take the next step at the plate and take the center field job for himself because watching him roam the outfield day after day is a fucking delight; he makes routine catches look like art and he makes web gems look routine. All we can do is hope this is the year that happens, but even if it doesn’t the Mets have a more than adequate plan to get production out of the center field position.
I do not understand what the Mets’ plan is for this position. We essentially have three left-handed right fielders in Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Conforto. Jay Bruce is the guy who is going to get the first legitimate shot at holding this position down, and I think it is in the best interest of the team for him to do so. Bruce has shown that when he is healthy ( which is most of the time, unlike the other players who I have made this statement about), he can be an all-star caliber right fielder. That is a testament to his offensive prowess, where he can very easily put up 30 HR and 100 RBI type numbers, the type of numbers where you wouldn’t really even care if he hit below .250. You put that type of pop in the middle of the lineup, back to back with Cespedes on the other side of the plate, and it makes our lineup very, very dangerous. His glove is nothing to write home about, so I’m not going to write about it here. He will catch balls, but he will also not get to some balls, and that’s okay.
Next, we have Grandy. I’m not sure if he is going to be getting some at bats against lefties taken away from Bruce, but if he does, that works for me too. He will do his Curtis Granderson thing (Read Center Field for more on that).
The most fascinating player on this roster goes to Michael Conforto though. Conforto came to us in the first round of the MLB Draft in 2014, after his senior year at Oregon State where he was pretty much the best hitter in Division 1 College Baseball. He ripped through the lower levels of the minor leagues, and ultimately skipped AAA to make his debut two years ago. He came up and hit and hit and hit and then stepped up even more in the playoffs and then hit 2 HRs in a game against the Royals and it looked like we found a stud and the centerpiece of our offense for the next 10 years. Then last year happened. He hit the shit out of the ball in April and then went ice cold and had to be sent down to AAA and then he hit the shit out of the ball there and came back up and was pretty good but not good enough for us not to go get Jay Bruce and make right field super confusing. I’m not sure where Conforto fits right now, and being that I already decided I’m rooting for Bruce to hold down right field, I guess our best case scenario for Conforto is that he goes back down to AAA, bats .450 again and comes back up as soon as somebody in the outfield pulls a hammy and Ray Ramirez misdiagnoses it and it turns into a eight-week DL stint, at which point Conforto steps in and shows everyone why he needs to be in the big leagues. Until then, lets hope Jay Bruce keeps hitting homers and we can let the rest figure itself out over the next six months.
I’ve already touched on a few of these guys and how they will fit into their roles defensively, but there are a few guys who need to be acknowledged for their roles coming off the bench late in games, or getting a few starts based on pitching matchups and other weird baseball decisions.
Wilmer Flores is a guy who I truly think is capable of more than he has already shown us. It is unfortunate that he grew out of shortstop, the position he played growing up, because now he doesn’t really have a position defensively. He is pretty much the most average defensive player ever. Wilmer’s thing is that he fucking CRIED when he found out the Mets traded him, and it happened during a game and everyone saw and fell in love with him. Then he got untraded and hit a walk off homerun two days later and he pounded his chest and now he is a fan favorite and I love him. He is also a good fucking hitter. People forget this, but the year before he came on the scene, he pretty much dominated AAA as a 21 year old, hitting like .340 with a couple homers and led the league in RBI’s most of the year. For those of you who are more sabermetrics guys, those are good things to do. Last year he showed us that in a platoon situation where he only hits lefties, he fucking tore the league’s ass UP. He was one of the best hitters against LHP in the league last year. Look it up. So if he does that again for us off the bench this year, and gets some starts at First and around the infield against LHP, it’s gonna be another great year for the cry baby Flores.
TJ Rivera is another guy who should be an asset off the bench for us this year. He’s a pretty cool story. Older than your usual rookie because it took him a few years to make his way through the Minors, but he got his shot last year and continued to hit for average like he was doing in AAA. He had a bunch of big hits for us late down the stretch last year, and I am optimistic he can continue to do that for us again.
Finally, let’s take a moment to talk about the fact that Eric Campbell is NOT on the Mets anymore, and he will NOT be playing in any Mets games this year, and you do NOT have to worry about getting pissed off when you check the lineup card at 11am and realize Eric fucking Campbell is starting at First or Second or Third or in Left field EVER AGAIN. LGM.
Everyone knows this already, but this season is going to either go really well or really poorly, dependent on what we get out of our starting pitching. On paper, we are fucking loaded. Legit, 1 through 5, no one in the league looks better. Power arm after power arm. Hair for days, swagger, a Jew, and Zack Wheeler who can hopefully come back and give us some quality innings and work his way back to being another top of the rotation arm.
There are a lot of ways to look at this rotation, but I think it starts with Jacob DeGrom. He has always kind of been the forgotten man in this rotation. You probably read that and thought, “shut up Taylor how can you call DeGrom forgotten? He was rookie of the year and a very prominent name and face in the league and he lit up the all-star game and blah blah blah” but hear me out. Harvey was the first big name to show up. He was throwing heat and he got everyone excited about Mets baseball again. Then Wheeler came up and he was also throwing heat and people were even more excited. DeGrom came up by accident. He wasn’t even supposed to get called up but then Montero got hurt and DeGrom came up and started doing well and next thing we knew he was striking guys out at Yankee Stadium and winning Rookie of the Year. Then he came out the next year and got even better and struck out the side in the All-Star Game and announced himself as a legitimate ace. He carried us to the World Series with his consistency, even without his best stuff all the time. But with the emergence of Noah Syndergaard last year, and all of the Harvey drama, he once again drifted into the background. Sure, he was playing with a significant injury that clearly negatively impacted his ability to perform, but since he pitched through most of it, it changed the way he was looked at. He was still good, but he wasn’t a stud like he had been. Well those days are over. DeGrom had surgery this offseason and is back this spring throwing 97 MPH cheddar and striking dudes out with high heat and deadly sliders and doing it all with a demeanor that screams “I’d rather be driving my Ford F-150 through some mud.” The guy is the antithesis of Syndergaard and Harvey and I think he is going to put himself back in the CY Young conversation this year.
Then we have Thor, another guy who should be in that conversation. If you’re still reading this, I don’t need to hype Noah Syndergaard up for you too much. We all know he’s gonna come out this year with 99 MPH heat, make Bryce Harper look silly, hit a few home runs, and then go on twitter and talk some smack to Mr. Met. It’s gonna be great and I can’t wait. That just rhymed, whoops.
Matt Harvey is more of a wild card and if I try to get too optimistic about it I think I’m just gonna end up upset, so let’s leave Harvey at this: I will always respect Matt Harvey for being the guy that brought back hope to this franchise. When his whole “Dark Knight” thing started, it was the most excited I had been about Mets baseball since ’06. That was something that we needed so badly, to have that kinda swagger back in a Mets Uniform. I will always be grateful to him for that. Beyond that, I don’t know what to expect from Harvey this year, other than that every time he steps on the mound, it will be exciting and it will be talked about on the back page of every local newspaper. I don’t think he is going to be himself immediately, and people need to be ready for that, and realize that we are in a position to overcome that because of how good the rest of our rotation is.
Steven Matz, noted Jew, is another guy who I am hopeful will take another step forward this year. Coming off of having a bone spur removed from his elbow this offseason, he has looked good this spring, and all scouts agree he has the stuff and command and makeup to be a top of the rotation starter. He is young, he looks athletic when he gets to hit, and he throws hard which people seem to like to talk about. These are all good things. The fact that Steven Matz can be our 3rd or 4th starter this year and win 15 games with an ERA under 3.50 pretty easily is definitely a good reason to optimistic about Mets baseball this year.
Finally, the rotation will be rounded out by some combo of Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo. Wheeler is a guy who has been around and is finally getting back to form off of Tommy John Surgery two years ago. He has looked good this spring but has already been giving a limit of 110 IP this season, so he will be around but will be closely monitored. Gsellman and Lugo are going to be the guys who ultimately hold down the back end of the rotation, and if they can continue to do what they showed us last year, and then we’re golden. Gsellman is a guy who fits right in because he has long hair and that is cool. Pitchers with long hair are cool. He also throws 93-94 MPH consistently and isn’t afraid to pitch to contact, which are good things. Seth Lugo fits right into that description as well, minus the hair, because he came up last year and lit it up and has done this same this spring in the World Baseball Classic for Team Puerto Rico. Between these 3 guys, the back end of our rotation is definitely in good hands.
Our bullpen looks pretty solid compared to years past, but bullpens that look good always end up being a crapshoot, and vice versa. Here is what I know for certain: Jeurys Familia is good at throwing a baseball. He can throw it hard, and he can make it curve and sink and he can make people swing and miss, and then he will celebrate, which will make me happy. Jeurys Familia is involved in some sort of legal situation stemming from an incident of Domestic Violence. Without getting too political, it seems to me that a lot of Latin guys in the league do this (see Reyes last year). They hit their wives or girlfriends or mothers in law and it’s not really a big deal to them because I guess that’s how things go in Latin countries. Don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes. So I’m not really mad at Jeurys because, as the saying goes, you can take the physically abusive athlete out of the Dominican Republic, but you cant take the physically abusive tendencies out of the athlete. He will probably start the season suspended because of this, which sucks, but once he comes back he’s gonna be one of the best closers in baseball again and that is a good thing for us.
Beyond him, we have Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Erik Goeddel, Josh Smoker, Josh Edgin, Jerry Blevins and some combination of AAA guys who will bounce back and forth. Blevins will be great for Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman and whoever is a good LH hitter on the Marlins, and Reed and Robles have shown that they can come in for three outs in the 7th and 8th, so all in all I feel pretty good about the bullpen right now. Shit changes quickly in baseball, so I’m ready for this all to blowup, but for now I think we can relax and look forward to winning games 4-3 with Familia striking out the final batter, stranding runners on 2nd and 3rd. My head hurts already just from typing that.
I just looked at my phone because who the fuck knows the date anymore off the top of their head unless it’s your birthday or maybe your girlfriend’s birthday. It’s March 16th, which means we have about two weeks till real baseball starts. I’ve watched most of the Spring Training games and devoured highlights from all the games I’ve missed. DeGrom is dealing, Cespedes is slugging, D’Arnaud looks like he has his (maybe Canadian) swagger back. Duda is hitting bombs again; Walker and Cabrera seem to be right where they left off last year. Reyes is still Reyes, Conforto looks like he’s ready to prove he belongs, Bruce and Grandy are hitting. Thor is Thor, Matz has looked healthy, and Wheeler is progressing. Familia hit 101 MPH in the World Baseball Classic the other night. These are all good things.
I am a Mets fan, which means I know a thing or two about feeling reaaaaaalllly good about a team, only to have my heart ripped out and stomped on and then shoved back down my throat. It happens over and over again. I get it. But this run we’re on has been different.
I would call this the beginning of year 3 of this run. Last year was the let down. We knew what we were capable of, but didn’t live up to it. Now all the young guys had a taste of their own blood, and they’re back to fuck everyone up. Cespedes came back because he has unfinished business and this team has a swagger about it that screams “We are here to win a fucking championship and Bryce Harper and his stupid hair can suck it.” We all felt it during the World Series run, it was around in bursts last year, but this year it is here to stay. Baseball predictions are tough because it’s such a long season but If I had to put a number on the regular season, I’d say its 90-72 or bust. 90 wins has become the benchmark for a division winner, a team that heads into the playoffs with World Series aspirations, and I think we are right there. I think Cespedes is gonna have another huge year for us, I think DeGrom and Syndergaard are going to both be in the Top-5 for the CY Young at the end of the year. I think D’Arnaud and Duda will get back to being the players we know they can be, and I think one of the three LH Right Fielders will step up and have a big enough year to hold shit down. Once we get to the playoffs, its over for the National League. Nobody wants to see this rotation in a playoff series, not even the Chicago Cubs. Kris Bryant may have nice hair and be pretty good, but you can bet he still pee pees his pajamas bottoms at night dreaming about Noah Syndergaard’s blonde locks waving in the wind as he strikes out to end game 4 of the NLCS, because that’s what’s going to happen. For the World Series, lets just say the Indians make it back. Who fucking cares. Mets in 5. 2017 World Series Champions, here we come.