Jan 30

What Would Define A Successful Season For The 2014 Mets

Some teams define a successful season by the pouring of champagne. The New York Mets are not one of them.

The Mets last tasted champagne in 2006, after beating the Dodgers in the NLCS. They last tasted the good stuff in 1986, and if a baseball hadn’t squirted between Bill Buckner’s legs, we’d have to back to 1969, the year man walked on the moon.

After five straight losing seasons, the Mets did enough adding this winter to warrant the thought this summer might be different.

It’s wishful thinking to think the Mets will play into October, but it isn’t premature to wonder what could define a successful season. After winning 74 games last year and finishing in third place, there’s room for improvement.

The Mets finished 22 games behind first-place Atlanta and 12 behind Washington, and it is unrealistic to believe they can make up those games.

However, it isn’t out of the question to think .500 can’t be reached. The additions of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon – plus the anticipated improvement of Jon Niese, and dare I suggest, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada – should be worth at least one more victory a month.

With the baseball season six months long, that’s six more victories. If the Mets could squeeze out one more win, that puts them at 81-81.

That’s plausible.

So, what’s it going to take for that to happen?

For one thing, Niese must win more than eight games and Zack Wheeler must continue to progress. They also can’t afford a setback from Colon. The Mets also need improvement from their bullpen, which was more than spotty last year. That begins with Vic Black adequately replacing closer Bobby Parnell.

Offensively, David Wright needs to approach the .300, 30-homer and 100-RBI levels expected of him. Granderson won’t hit 40 homers in Citi Field, but at least 25 shouldn’t be out of the question.

It’s folly to predict what Davis might provide, but then again, any improvement would be welcome. As for Chris Young, considering what he’s done the past few years, he falls into the Davis category of “anything is better than nothing.’’

Of course, slumps and injuries can’t be forecast. However, if most expectations are reached, I’m thinking .500 is possible, with 85 reachable in the best-case scenario.

It could happen.

Jan 27

How Mets Answered Off-Season Questions

The New York Mets faced a myriad of questions entering the off-season. Now, with spring training staring us in the face. let’s see how have they answered them.

REBUILDING THE ROTATION

With Matt Harvey lost for the season following Tommy John surgery, the Mets needed to add two starters because they had no assurances of help from their minor league system that includes Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom.

Bartolo Colon was signed to a two-year contract, theoretically to fill the void this season and in 2015 if there was a problem in Harvey’s rehab.

Within the past two weeks they signed John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka, which should give them the promise of at least five innings from the fifth starter.

Colon is an upgrade over Aaron Harang, and if Matsuzaka pitches as he did in his final three starts last season, he will keep things in order until the prospects arrive.

Conclusion: They are better now than after the season, but not good enough to make them better than a .500 team without some help.

BOLSTERING THE BULLPEN

With Bobby Parnell recovering from neck surgery, the Mets’ Plan B is to make Vic Black the closer.

The Mets will bring back most of their 2013 bullpen, but there won’t be enough arms in camp to create widespread competition.

Conclusion: Things would be better if the Mets could depend on Parnell’s status, but the bullpen heading into spring training is no better than last year’s.

SETTLING ON A FIRST BASEMAN

Most Mets fans said the team should have done this last July and cut ties with Ike Davis. Unable to trade him – and initially showing signs of leaning toward Lucas Duda – it appears the Mets are back to square one by giving Davis another chance.

The Mets’ outward efforts to deal Davis only decreased his value. Duda doesn’t have much trade value, either. Neither does Wilmer Flores, who won’t be given a chance to compete for the first base job.

Conclusion: What was a season-long distraction lasted through the winter and will greet us in Port St. Lucie.

ADDRESSING SHORTSTOP

Acquiring a shortstop was a top priority during the winter, but the Mets were never in it for Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew is well out of their price range.

Prior to the Winter Meetings, GM Sandy Alderson suggested Ruben Tejada would get another chance. The Mets also brought back Omar Quintanilla as Tejada’s back-up.

Conclusion: Instead of upgrading, the Mets are reduced to hoping for Tejada to play better than he had ever been before.

ADDING POWER TO THE OUTFIELD

Curtis Granderson was signed to a four-year contract and Chris Young was given a one-year deal. Granderson is coming off an injury prone, non-productive year.

Granderson is young enough to give the Mets hope he can bounce back, although nobody expects him to duplicate his Yankee Stadium numbers at Citi Field.

Conversely, Young is several years removed from his best seasons. The Mets are hoping for lightning in a bottle from him.

Conclusion: A productive Granderson will upgrade the offense, improve the outfield and protect David Wright in the batting order. No guarantees, however.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 18

Harvey Excited About Mets’ New Additions

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So far, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has gotten many of his players pumped up after shelling out $87 million for outfielders Chris Young, 30, and Curtis Granderson, 33, plus the addition of 41-year old starting pitcher Bartolo Colon. In the space of one week, Alderson added 44 years of baseball experience to the 25 man roster.

David Wright has already given the moves two thumbs up, and on Monday night, Mets ace Matt Harvey gave his vote of confidence.

“I like it,” Harvey said on the MSG Network Monday night at halftime of the Knicks’ 102-101 loss to the Wizards. “I talked to owner Jeff Wilpon, and he gave me a call after he signed both those guys. We’re really excited for Mets baseball.”

Harvey, who will miss the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery, said his rehab has gone according to plan so far.

“Everything’s going really well,” he said. “Obviously, at this point, I wish I could be out there for Opening Day. I’ve come to the realization that’s not really possible. Rehab is going really well, and my arm feels extremely well. It’s a slow process, but everything’s going really well.”

“Bartolo’s going to have to hold it down for me while I’m gone,” he said.

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Dec 11

Terry Collins Said David Wright Deals With Pressure

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – David Wright told me yesterday how much Curtis Granderson will mean to the New York Mets on the field and in the clubhouse.

One thing Wright will never admit is, as team captain, whether he ever felt he was drained by being “the man’’ and if Granderson would alleviate pressure. Doing so would admit feeling the pressure. That’s something he’s never done, and won’t ever. It isn’t in his professional DNA.

WRIGHT: Handles pressure.

WRIGHT: Handles pressure.

Manager Terry Collins can read a player by looking into his eyes and watching body language. He was asked if he ever sees a sign of mental fatigue from Wright.

“The answer is no, I don’t,’’ Collins said.  “David Wright is the consummate pro.  He knows exactly what’s expected, deals with it, and he deals with it with a smile.’’

There are times when he tries to carry the Mets on his shoulders. He’s done that for years, but team leaders always fall into that trap. That’s what team leaders do.

“Does he once in a while try to be the guy?  Yes,’’ Collins said.  “But he’s supposed to because he is the guy.  That’s why I think he’s a great player.’’

When the Mets need a key hit, Wright often delivers. He has a .375 average and 1.123 OPS when the Mets win and .243 average and .700 OPS when they lose. He hits .295 with men on base and .284 with runners in scoring position. His .407 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position is indicative of teams pitching around him.

Since Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado left, Wright has been the go-to guy for the Mets in critical situations. He’s always said he relishes those situations.

“You know, when the game is on the line, you look and guys are turning to David Wright to be the guy that comes through,’’ Collins said.  “I think he handles it great.’’

Granderson, despite his propensity for striking out, hit over 80 homers in 2011-2012. When he hit 41 homers in 2011, his home-road breakdown was 21-20, so he can hit outside of Yankee Stadium. Granderson is not an easy out, so pitchers might be less reluctant to pitch around Wright, at least in theory.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 10

David Wright Likes Curtis Granderson Signing On Many Levels

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Where Curtis Granderson will fit in with the New York Mets outfield is still to be determined, David Wright has no doubt he does fit with his team.

Granderson is penciled in to hit fourth behind Wright, giving him the protection he hasn’t had since Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado were here. Manager Terry Collins doesn’t know which of the three outfield positions Granderson will play, but Wright said wherever he plays, he provides an immediate upgrade.

WRIGHT: Likes Granderson signing on many levels.

WRIGHT: Likes Granderson signing on many levels.

“Curtis instantly makes us a better team both offensively and defensively,’’ Wright said in an email.

Offensively, Granderson hit 40 homers with the Yankees, but even with Citi Field’s spacious dimensions, he should be good for at least 25.

Defensively, he’s a natural centerfielder. Collins hasn’t decided his outfield rotation, but speculation is it will be – from left to right – Granderson, Juan Lagares and Chris Young.

Collins said Granderson should also take pressure off Wright in the batting order.

“I think, number one, they’ve got Curtis hitting behind him now, they’ve got to make a decision,’’ Collins said of opposing pitcher’s plans against the Mets.

“David’s patient enough to take the base on balls, especially if he knows the guy can bat behind him,” Collins said. “He’ll get better pitches to hit each at-bat.  And if David gets pitches to hit, he does damage.’’

Granderson is GM Sandy Alderson’s highest-profile free agent signing, but if things work out as hoped, Wright said it would not be his last. If the Mets get better, other players will notice.

“I think it paves the way for other elite players to want to play for us,’’ wrote Wright, whom Granderson said was influential in him signing with the Mets.

From his perspective, Granderson said one of the reasons he wanted four years was to be around when the Mets’ building plan reached fruition, and that includes signing future free agents.

While Granderson provides Wright protection in the order, he’ll also give him a respite in the clubhouse. Even prior to his appointment to team captain last season, Wright was the clubhouse voice, commenting on an array of issues, ranging from Willie Randolph’s firing in 2008 to the Wilpon’s financial situation to Ike Davis’ plate troubles to Jordany Valdespin’s emotional meltdowns.

Quite simply, he has been the go-to guy for all issues on the Mets.

By all accounts, Granderson will be a positive presence, and Wright echoed what Alderson said earlier today.

“He’s a true professional and great guy to have in the clubhouse,’’ wrote Wright. “He has a confidence about him that I think will rub off on other players.’’

ON DECK: Wrapping up day two of the Winter Meetings.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos