How Optimistic (or Pessimistic) Should New York Mets Fans Be Heading Into 2012?

Over at Metsblog.com there have been a couple of discussions about what is expected of the New York Mets this season.  On the pessimistic side, a scout explained why he doesn’t see the New York Mets cracking 70 wins this season.  On the optimistic side, a fan asks if the same squad can manage 85 wins if a few things break right.  I am definitely closer to the pessimistic projection for the New York Mets.  There is too much talent in the National League East and not enough talent in Queens.

The scout referenced above also mentions the tough spot the Mets are in as they try to stack up against four strong teams in their division.  Look at the deep pitching staffs the Mets have to brush up against.  You have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading the Philadelphia Phillies.  Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Jair Jurrjens round out a front five that has a number of young, but high end youngsters vying for a spot in the Atlanta Braves’ rotation.  The Washington Nationals arguably have the second best pitching staff and maybe even the best team in the division on paper with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson leading the rotation.  I think the Miami Marlins, a team that will head into the season significantly more talented than the Mets, could easily wind up in fourth place in the division – despite having a formidable duo of Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez atop their rotation.

The Mets, unfortunately, will probably head into most games at a disadvantage.  I mean, is it a stretch to say that the Mets will trot out a starting pitcher inferior to his counterpart in 40% of their games? 50%? 60-70%?  The high end seems a bit harsh, but look at what the Mets are working with.  Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is probably the Mets best starting pitcher; Johan Santana, if he even makes it back by the start of the season, will only be a shell of his former self; Dillon Gee and Jon Niese carry a shred of promise for Mets fans but really are nothing to be overly excited about; and oh yeah, you have Mike Pelfrey serving as the poster-boy for what Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jeurys Familar should NOT become.  Games where the Mets have a starting pitching advantage are going to be few and far between.

Maybe the aforementioned trio of prospects (most likely just Harvey and Familia) along with Jenrry Mejia (recovering from Tommy John surgery) get some Major League action in 2012.  That will definitely be exciting, but it still is not going to brighten the immediate outlook.

The New York Mets, even with improved production from David Wright and Jason Bay (highly questionable) in the middle of the lineup, just don’t have enough to compete with the juggernauts in their division and the other tough competition that they will face on a nightly basis.  While expecting a 100-loss season from the Mets this season is extreme, I would not be surprised if the number of tallies in the right-hand column of their record flirted with triple digits.

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