The Mets can be a playoff team, but a lot of things must break their way before there’s meaningful October baseball at Citi Field. With it being apparent they won’t make any substantial additions between now and Opening Day, they’ll have to improve enough to win at least an additional ten games with their current roster.
That’s a tall order.
Here’s what must happen:
Matt Harvey: How will he rebound from elbow surgery? It’s one thing for him to say he’s ready, but it’s another for him to actually do it on the mound. Remember, his high-water mark is nine victories. While the results have been positive for others with his surgery, everybody is different.
Zack Wheeler: For him to reach the next level he must economize his pitches. The Mets need him to last longer than the sixth inning. The more he works, the less reliant the Mets will be in their bullpen.
Jon Niese: The lone lefty must do better, and for this to happen, he must stay healthy. A career that began with promise has been a disappointment.
Bartolo Colon: He proved last year he’s capable of 200 innings and the Mets need close to that again. He figures to be the fifth starter, so that could keep him fresh.
Jacob deGrom: The second year is tougher because teams have a book on him. When they adjust to him, he must adjust back. What he has in his gut is stuff you can’t teach.
Bobby Parnell: Terry Collins says he will be the closer if healthy, but let’s hope he’s not rushed.
Jenrry Mejia: Presumably the Mets will use him in a set-up role if Parnell is healthy. If he ends up closing he needs to show it again, this time over a full season. One thing the Mets can’t afford is to jump at trading him without knowing about Parnell.
Jeurys Familia: With his stuff, the Mets must find him a role. The one thing I don’t want to see is a closer by committee.
Vic Black: What is his role? He has great stuff. Again, no closer by committee.
Travis d’Arnaud: He showed positive glimpses last year, but not enough to where you can say he’ll be there for ten years. He needs time to prove himself, but I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing what Anthony Recker can do with more playing time.
Lucas Duda: He showed he could hit for power and field the position. But, he has to prove last year wasn’t a fluke. The expectations are higher than ever.
Daniel Murphy: Was easily the Mets’ most consistent hitter in 2014, plus he wasn’t as bad as people think defensively. Just keep on slapping line drives.
Wilmer Flores: This is a major issue. I’m concerned Collins will panic and yank him when he struggles which could undoubtedly happen. There will be pressures on him he hasn’t faced. How much time? Maybe two months. Perhaps to the All-Star break. Of course, it could depend on how the Mets are playing at the time.
David Wright: To me, he is the Mets’ most pressing issue. A healthy and productive Wright sets the table for the offense and eliminates all those nagging questions about his contract.
Michael Cuddyer: The Mets jumped at signing him early in the process when they could have upgraded higher had they waited and were willing to spend. Will that gamble backfire?
Juan Lagares: Has to prove he can hit on the major league level, which includes improving his on-base percentage to where he can hit leadoff. There’s no problem with his glove.
Curtis Granderson: Will being reunited with hitting coach Kevin Long help him regain his stroke and confidence?
* There are only two wild-cards and with teams in the West and Central greatly improved, there might not be room for a team in the East. The Nationals are just too good to be overtaken. As of now, the Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Cardinals, Pirates, Reds and maybe the Cubs seem good enough to either win their respective divisions or go as a wild card. I can see any of those teams winning at least 88 games.
* As is the case every year, staying healthy is paramount and the Mets have health questions regarding Harvey and Wright.
* What will their tact be at the trade deadline? They did nothing the past two years, but will Alderson be more aggressive if the Mets get off to a fast start? Speaking of which, they can’t afford to struggle out of the gate.
* Who is available coming out or spring training? Roster cuts in late March always must be taken seriously as they can’t afford to pass on an upgrade.
What won’t happen is for all of these to be answered in the positive because stuff like that just doesn’t occur. But, a lion’s share must be met to give them a fighting chance.