Mets 2017 Opening Day – Cautiously Optimistic

By Paul DiSclafani

During the spring of 2016, we were “all in” on the National League Champion Mets.  Sure there were concerns about Matt Harvey’s innings following his workload after returning from Tommy John surgery.  And of course, there were concerns for all of the pitchers who had been pushed way past any limit they had ever endured while the Mets were chasing a World Series title that eventually eluded them.

And concerns about David Wright?  Not to worry, he was going to give us about 130 games.

Of course, you all know what happened.  Injuries, injuries and more injuries.  And oh yeah, Daniel Murphy ate the Mets alive.

So what did we learn, Mets fans?

We learned that we probably should have enjoyed ourselves more during that World Series run in 2015, but more importantly, we learned that we need to be a little more cautious in our pre-season hoopla.  Not that we shouldn’t be excited about this team in 2017, just that maybe we should take a step back and look at exactly what we have.

We have a really good team here that is built on pitching and Yoenis Cespedes.  We have four pitchers that missed time last year (some significantly) with injuries and another that hasn’t pitched in the majors since September of 2014.  Our first baseman and second baseman had significant back injuries.  Our new right fielder doesn’t seem to like to play in New York.  Our rookie sensation in the outfield from 2015 suffered a severe sophomore slump and currently doesn’t have an open outfield position.  We are in a Division that includes the Washington Nationals, who won 95 games last year and beat us about 100 times.  Oh yeah, our closer that saved over 100 games in the last two seasons is suspended for the first 15 games.

Of course, don’t they usually say that “past performance is no indicator of future results”?

Yet many baseball pundits think that this team is not only going to win the National League East, but they are going back to the World Series.

And I tend to agree with them, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

If you have been reading all “previews”, the one word that permeates all of these articles is “if”.  If the pitching holds out, if this guy stays healthy, etc.  Isn’t that little “if” the same for all teams at this point?  It seems to make sense that if you get good pitching and clutch hitting, you are going to win a number of games.

Like most of you, I am looking forward to this season.  I think we have something to prove.  I think the Mets think they have something to prove.  I think the pitchers think they have something to prove.

If you want a position by position breakdown with predictions, the Daily News and Newsday have provided that for you already this week.  I’m out of the prediction game (for now).  But I like what I have seen down in Florida.

The pitching looks good.  Cespedes looks primed for an MVP caliber year.  David Wright is not a factor (which is sad), but that gives Jose Reyes a lot more playing time.  Jay Bruce looks like he has accepted the fact that he is not going back to Cincinnati (or anywhere else).  How many batting orders are going to have a number six (Bruce) and seven (Lucas Duda) that can go deep?

Take a quick look at the starters – Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler and Robert Gsellman.  We still have Steven Matz (hopefully) and Seth Lugo (hopefully) waiting in the wings.  That’s seven guys who could be a 1, 2 or 3 pitcher on any roster right now.  Are all of them going to perform at a CY Young level?  Of course not, but they don’t have to.  They just need to continue to give their team a chance to win every day.

Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are still a good double play combo and Curtis Granderson might surprise some people in Center Field and hitting cleanup.

Does this team have a lot of question marks?  What team doesn’t?  They have too many left handed hitting outfielders.  Who is going to come off their bench?  Is Matt Harvey ready?  How long before Syndergaard’s arm falls off?  Is Wheeler a bomb waiting to explode?  Why didn’t they address first base with someone other than Wilmer Flores?  Are injuries a problem already?  Lugo, Matz and Juan Lagares are starting on the DL.

Come on, now.  Can we just get the season started?  Did anyone notice that the Yankees won 24 games in Spring training, more than any other team in baseball.  Did you also notice that Masahiro Tanaka, who allowed only one earned run in 23 and 2/3 innings only got 8 outs today and was charged with seven earned runs?

Let’s take this spring training thing with a grain of salt, shall we?  Let’s take all the talk and hype down a notch and let the game begin.

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.  Let’s be ready to go on Monday and enjoy this baseball season, no matter what happens.  This is a very good baseball team.  This is not a 72 win team.  This could be a 90 win team,  This team could make the playoff for the third consecutive year – a first in franchise history.

I’m on board.  I’m ready for Opening Day.  I’m just cautiously optimistic…

Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which was ranked as one of the top 100 MLB Blogs

 

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