Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Training for Bloggers

I wasn't exactly planning to not write anything for a month, but the combination of a nasty Super Bowl Hangover (still stewing), lack of a niche topic or anything especially newsworthy meant I took an unplanned Winter Break. But, with Opening Day now less than 3 weeks away (still waiting on my tickets), I figured I'd better get cracking and get myself back into shape for Opening Day.

There are several things I've done in the past, for example picking 5 Key Mets and naming the All Ballclub Team, which I haven't done this year. I tended to think of Key Mets in the sense of the success of the team really hinging on their own personal success. Though I hate to admit defeat, I just don't think the Mets are going to be especially successful, at least from a win-loss standpoint. No few players playing better or worse than hoped will swing the fortunes of the team at all, at least not this year. But this isn't a rebuilding year. The rebuilding has already been done, for the most part. This is now an evaluational year, just to see what the hell the Mets have going forward.

I suspect I'll be complaining an awful lot about how the Mets don't hit this season. I don't think that's much of a surprise to anyone. Though David Wright has been tearing up the World Baseball Classic, who's to say this will translate to regular season success (Though Beltran in '06 comes to mind)? If anything, the WBC has just reminded us how good Wright can be when he has a stocked lineup around him. It's nice being able to hit in between Ryan Braun and Eric Hosmer. That'd help any hitter. But most of us are more concerned with how he'll hit in between Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy or Ruben Tejada or Colin Cowgill or whoever ends up hitting 2nd. What kind of a start will Ike Davis get off to? What kind of a start will Daniel Murphy get off to? Will Lucas Duda get started at all?

The Outfield is frightening. I haven't seen a ton of Spring Games, but other than the fact that Lucas Duda appears to have borrowed Zach Galifinakis' beard, I don't think anybody has done anything of note. Colin Cowgill has shown some spunk, and I guess he'll start, but I'm not sure if it's because he's decent or because he's just better than Nieuwenhuis, Baxter, Byrd, Valdespin or whoever else is out there. This is a group that has all the makings of submarining rallies and innings all season long and making me want to bash my head into the counter at Blue Smoke.

The Pitching, particularly the starters, actually look good. Unfortunately, they'll probably fall victim to my favorite types of games, the 3-1 losses where the Mets get 8 hits, hit into 3 Double Plays and in at least one instance, they will have the tying runs in scoring position with under 2 outs and won't score a run. Niese and Gee have looked good, and Shaun Marcum was a signing I really liked, because he's better than you think if he's healthy (see: Capuano, Chris, 2011). Then, there's Matt Harvey, who's beginning to inspire the kind of superlatives that would merit his own blog. The conventional wisdom is that, with Santana unavailable on Opening Day, Jon Niese would get the start. But I'd strongly consider giving the ball to Harvey that day. He's clearly up to the assignment and it would make quite a statement as to the direction this team is going. If he doesn't, I'm inclined to believe that this is the last year for a while where he's not the Opening Day Starter.

There's a bullpen here too, but I don't want to talk about it.

The Mets as a whole are still a ways from contending, and even the heartiest of optimists would have to agree. But whether contention comes in 2014 or 2016 depends on what happens after this year, and isn't something I think we should be worrying about right now. Optimism for a Mets fan in 2013 has to be looking at Matt Harvey, and then seeing players like Zach Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud about to ascend because if they're as good as advertised, then success should follow. That's about as optimistic as I can get, though, at least for right now, because everything hinges on a futures market. This is somewhat frustrating, rooting for a large market team that's been embarrassingly bad for several years now. But, you try to make the best of what's available, and right now, this is what's available.

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