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.
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.