GM Sandy Alderson set the bar high for his New York Mets this spring. He believes they can win 90 games. Naturally, this statement was met with derision because, you know, LOLMETS. However, there’s nothing wrong with challenging your players.
Of course, the way the roster is currently constructed, 90 games seems like a long shot. The Mets will need a lot of breaks to go their way. So what will it take for the 2014 New York Mets to win 90 games? Here’s the blue-sky scenario.
Like any team, avoiding injury is the first step towards success. The Mets’ depth chart is not quite as thin as it has been in years past, but they’re still one or two key injuries away from total roster disarray. David Wright will have to prove that last year’s hamstring injury was an isolated incident and Curtis Granderson will have to hope that he got all of his freakish hit-by-pitch trauma out of the way last year.
Travis d’Arnaud, who also has a history of injuries (some a byproduct of simply being a catcher) has yet to prove he can play a full season of professional baseball. Finally, the Mets’ pitching staff will have to avoid the Elbow Injury Reaper, who seems to have become more active in MLB in recent years.
Can portly newcomer Bartolo Colon help alleviate the loss of Matt Harvey? Colon will have to give the Mets quality innings. He may not repeat his 2.65 ERA, 18-win season from a year ago, but the 41-year-old will be counted on to be the rock of New York’s rotation. Along with Colon, the Mets need second-year man Zack Wheeler to live up to his billing as a top starter, and while they’re at it, they’d sure love for Jon Niese to stay healthy all season.
Dillon Gee, the team’s Opening Day starter, needs to keep doing what he did last year once he finally figured it out. Young prospects like Jenrry Mejia, Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard will all be called upon to contribute in 2014. If they live up to their potential, they could round out one of the best starting staffs in the league — even without Harvey.
Talking of prospects, 2014 is the year that many of them will get to prove what they’re made of. Wheeler, d’Arnaud, and Syndergaard — all acquired by Alderson in trades — will be counted on to be major contributors to this team at some point during the season. Mejia, Montero, outfielder Juan Lagares and various bullpen arms will also need to grow up fast.
In the bullpen, Bobby Parnell has lost at least five mph off of his fastball since having neck surgery last year. Vic Black had no idea where his fastball was going during Spring Training and was sent down to triple-A. The rest of the bullpen is made up of unproven (if not untalented) youngsters, and veterans who need to show they still have something left (looking at you, Jose Valverde).
If they all pitch as well as they are capable of, the Mets will have a real chance to be the surprise team of the NL East. If not, they’ll have no chance. A lot has to break right for the Mets to win 90 games this year, but there is enough potential talent on the roster to make a Mets fan dare to think there’s a chance.