Odds-makers have the New York Mets pegged at 73.5 wins for 2014. After consecutive 74-win seasons, figuring the Mets to perform at about the same level this year is a fair bet. But that’s the point — bookies aren’t trying to predict win totals, they are trying to get you to give them money. If you think the Mets will win at least as many games as last year, you’re already a winner! Easy, see?
Never mind that baseball is the worst/best sport to bet on, a win total in the mid-70s does seem fair. 90 “W’s,” GM Sandy Alderson‘s much-maligned prediction, is on the far, far end of the Mets’ potential, considering they added Curtis Granderson but lost Matt Harvey and haven’t even been a .500 club in half a decade.
Somewhere in between is an interesting conversation. Assuming that the team doesn’t completely implode (David Wright tears up his knee saving pandas from a zoo fire; Zack Wheeler is last spotted with a group of Victoria’s Secret models headed for a plane to Bermuda; Lucas Duda goes schizophrenic and holds Ike Davis hostage until he gets his batting helmet filled with cottage cheese, along with the promise to get in a few innings as bat boy, too…Okay, the last one is technically a “best case scenario.” Sue me), the Mets could finish above .500, even if only most things break their way.
If nothing else, the Mets have pitching, lots of it. The offense will be putrid unless Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud decide to contribute, but the Mets shouldn’t suffer many long losing streaks. The next day’s pitcher is going to be talented enough to win any game.
I’m assuming that Alderson isn’t going to make any grand, imagination-laded trades this year, but he will realize the sooner Ruben Tejada is off somewhere to find a new vocation, the better. An MLB-capable shortstop is essential to any respectable win total, be it Stephen Drew, Nick Franklin or Jimmy Rollins.
My biggest fear resides in the front office. This isn’t a payroll rant, or a general incompetence rant, but simply that I think Alderson and manager Terry Collins are the wrong fit for this team right now. Yes, the farm system is much improved, but acquiring Wheeler and d’Arnaud were no-brainers; Noah Syndergaard was a throw-in by the Toronto Blue Jays.
When the unexpected happens, Alderson will always be a day late and a dollar short. The Mets should have been proactive in improving the roster, and now they’ve been snake-bitten by issues they should have foreseen coming — for example, first base and shortstop. With two weeks to go until Opening Day, the Mets still only have 60 percent of an infield. That’s bad.
But given all this, I have a gut feeling that this team is going to overachieve. Telling the fans, “Wait ‘till next year, puts a chip on the shoulders of the current roster. Wright knows his prime years are numbered; Granderson has a contract to earn; Wheeler has an inner rage to him that’s screaming out to be the Man. D’Arnaud and Lagares have Major League tools and Major League talent, enough to form a young, defensive-minded backbone starting this year.
Plus, I’m a positive guy, so 79 wins?
Like I said, I’m usually a positive guy.