If there’s anything we’ve become good at these last four years it’s saying “just wait till 2014, 2015, etc.” More specifically, yet ironically lacking specifics, is that we generally say “We’re building for the future” and “Next year.” There’s always this concept of a Master Plan, or something resembling the religious concept of Intelligent Design–that Sandy Alderson has been building this team from the farm up, evolving our philosophies, shifting our statistical focus, and player management.
When it all comes down to it, each year could’ve been “our year” since Alderson’s taken over. There was always a fluke chance of everything suddenly falling together, even with a ragtag team, and our Mets showing signs of climbing from their rut. While the 2006 Mets saw huge years from Delgado and Beltran, we can’t forget that Wright and Reyes were only 23 years old, that we had Jose Valentin starting, and Xavier Nady as our starting right fielder. My point is, sometimes things fall nicely into place, and sometimes, as we’ve seen: they can fall into place one year, and then hit a downward spiral of injuries.
So when we look at 2014, we should consider that our pitching staff in the glorious year that was 2006 featured the likes of Tom Glavine (15-7, 3.82 ERA), Steve Trachsel (15-8, 4.97 ERA), Pedro Martinez (9-8, 4.48 ERA), El Duque (9-7, 4.09 ERA), and John Maine (6-5, 3.60 ERA). They all had pretty nice-looking records, but their ERAs show that they were saved by teammates who scored at a ridiculous clip (i.e: a majority of them having career years).
Compare that to our pitchers this year, albeit with almost no run support and the all-too-often bullpen flaws early on: Matt Harvey (9-5, 2.27 ERA), Zack Wheeler (7-5, 3.42 ERA), Dillon Gee (12-10, 3.54 ERA), Jonathon Niese (7-8, 3.81 ERA). Obviously, I’m neglecting to include those who aren’t going to be part of our future starting rotation (but let’s not forget Jenrry Mejia 1-2, 2.30 ERA in 5 starts).
We have Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom on their way, as soon as 2014 for all three. We have so much solid pitching depth throughout the organization that it would make other teams cry for their futures against us (Steven Matz, Gabriel Ynoa, Darin Gorski, Jacob Lugo, Robert Whalen, Chris Flexen).
Honestly, we should have solid pitching for years to come. As for the lineup in 2014, we shouldn’t be underselling the talent our “rookies” have. They’re getting their feet wet for the first time in the majors, and will then spend the off-season figuring out how to adjust.
A roster that includes David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Matt den Dekker, Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wilfredo Tovar would be incredibly talented defensively, and stocked with line drive, gap-to-gap hitters. Wright, Murphy, MdD,TdA and Flores are all very capable of between 12-20 home runs. What’s even more impressive is the age of a roster like that: 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 24, 22.
That group of guys still allows for an outside addition if need be, but I definitely believe that those guys (presuming that Tovar can prove he belongs–he’s already shown he’s the only player who can drop a sac bunt, apparently).
As for offensive help from within, there’s still the likes of Kevin Plawecki, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Dustin Lawley (who IS a power hitter), Allan Dykstra, Cesar Puello, etc. We aren’t as completely void offensively as fans like to think. Just because we don’t have a #1 draft pick, doesn’t mean we haven’t reaped the benefits of some talented kids.
The point is: here comes the future. That one we’ve been waiting for with bated breath. There WILL be talented players in Citi Field next year, not just infamous ReplaceMets/AAAA Mets. And there will be good teams to root for and enjoy for years to come.
Obviously, this post shouldn’t be misconstrued as comparing the 2006 team to any future Mets team, next year or thereafter. The idea is to show the potential our team could have for the future. The idea is to show how break out years, career years, or just expected years can put everything right back on track. I’m not saying to expect someone to fill the Delgado role, the Beltran role, the Floyd role, the Reyes role–no. What I’m saying is that the talent, the youth, the drive to succeed and be great is there.
Like we say after every season: just wait til next year. And this time, we should be right.
(Cesar Puello photo courtesy of Kelly Madden)