Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Back In Playing Shape
The new faces in camp, a majority of whom I'm only vaguely familiar with, don't merit great amounts of discussion, or at least not until I see them lining up along the first base line at Citi Field on March 31st. Other, bigger names were either discussed (Granderson), or not, because I could say everything that needs to be said about Chris Young and Bartolo Colon in a few sentences. Chris Young: Get your act together and show what you are, otherwise you're gone (and on a 1-year deal he's got a lot to prove). Bartolo Colon: Lay off the clubhouse spread. Or not, if that's what's doing it for you.
Young and Colon aren't going to make or break the Mets this year. I had, in February, some blind thought that maybe there was something to the 90-win talk. But a lot had to go right for that to happen. Based on what little I've seen (and lots that I've heard) from Spring Training, it seems like things are already off to a bad start. Jonathon Niese, the de facto Opening Day starter, is suffering from some sort of general malaise that's caused him to pitch poorly and return to New York twice for MRIs that have proven inconclusive. Ruben Tejada, who's in every Mets fan's doghouse, has done nothing to inspire any confidence that he'll return to the form he showed in 2012 that had us all excited. Regardless, it seems he'll be handed the Shortstop job, over Wilmer Flores, who if nothing else is a change of pace, or Free Agent Stephen Drew, probably because a move like that makes too much sense. Travis d'Arnaud, in spite of taking control of the pitching staff, hasn't hit like we hoped he would. Laverne and Shirley (or, more appropriately, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda), haven't even set foot on the field. And the back end of a rotation that was supposed to be pretty damn good is now looking like a mishmash of retreads because nobody among John Lannan, Jenrry Mejia and Daisuke Matsuzaka has stepped up. So, you know, we can look forward to Mejia ostensibly being wasted in the bullpen while Lannan pitches to a 6.34 ERA in 5 ill-advised starts and Matsuzaka only does slightly better.
Add this all up, and this Spring Training hasn't exactly shown much for me to get incredibly excited about. And that sucks, because I was actually starting to believe that the corner had been turned. And that may yet be the case, but after 5 lost years, I think I can be excused for being a little impatient. The upshot is that by 2015, the Mets hold the potential to have some seriously good pitching at the top of the rotation, if Wheeler builds on last season, Noah Syndergaard ascends as advertised and Matt Harvey returns strong, leaving a back of the rotation that features Jonathon Niese (if he can get his shit together) and Dillon Gee, no slouch in his own right. The best part about this equation is that it means no rotation spots will be wasted on John Lannan-types. The downside is, of course, that this is at least a year away, and that's assuming things go right.
Unfortunately, for the Mets, things going right has been a dicey proposition in recent seasons.