Super Bowl Sunday is just a few days away, meaning that baseball season will soon be upon us. Next year could be now for your team. The fresh slate of a new season is both exciting and intimidating. With the MLB season being the longest in major sports, a team can look like a playoff contender at times, but lose steam through the grueling 162 game schedule. Which describes how the New York Mets have played the last few seasons.
Yes, I understand that the Mets have finished fourth in the National League Eastern Division for four straight seasons. However, people seem to forget that the last three seasons, the Mets entered the All-Star break over .500 and within striking distance of a playoff spot each time. However, their combined post All-Star break record in those same seasons is well below .500 at 90-131. As the summer heat rages into late July and early August, the Mets consistently fade away. While the Mets have been far away from a realistic contender in for the last four years, they also have not been nearly as bad as people would think or say However, now entering the third season with manger Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson, it certainly feels like Mets fans should be entitled to some improvement at least.
The problem or problems standing in the Mets’ way of improvement is the strength of the National League East. The division had two playoff teams last season in the Washington Nationals (in their first playoff appearance since the move) and the Atlanta Braves. Meanwhile the recent perennial playoff contender Philadelphia Phillies could not overcome falling to as far as 14 games under .500 in July, despite their late season surge. The Miami Marlins’ season could not have gone worse going 60-93 on the year.
Coming into this spring training, The Nationals already great pitching rotation got even stronger with the addition of Right-Hander Dan Haren. The Braves outfield now consists of the Upton brothers (signed BJ, traded for Justin) to go along with the powerful Jason Heyward. The Phillies should bounce back, especially if they play like they did in the season half of last season. The Marlins dumped nearly every asset on their team except for Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton. So where does this leave the Mets? The best case scenario is probably a 3rd place around .500 record finish in the division, with a 5th place sub .500 finish likely leading to the end of Collins’ tenure as manager. While Collins has had the team playing above their skill level at times in the past two seasons, he needs a solid second half to prove that this team and franchise is not just waiting for “next year”, even if there are a little bit.
The outlook is not ideal, but the team continues to get younger and cheaper under Alderson’s watch. Predictions for one’s own team can be biased and prove to be foolish, but with this current team the Mets have a legitimate chance to have a winning record for the first time in five years, and that would be nothing short of Amazin’, for now.