The Mets just finished a season in which they were below .500 for a sixth straight year. Pretty much the same cast of characters will be back in 2015 with the same payroll restrictions. Yet suddenly everyone is talking about them as playoff contenders. We should not be buying into it, but we are. Is it a case of wishful thinking or are the Mets actually a decent team?
On one hand, it looks like the Mets will not have substantially better players next season than this season (unless you consider Michael Cuddyer a game changer, which you probably shouldn’t). Of course, Matt Harvey will be back, so that is a significant upgrade if he can pick up where he left off.
On the other hand, many players made great strides in 2014 that hopefully will carry over. Lucas Duda had a breakout year. Travis d’Arnaud looked really good in the second half. Juan Lagares established himself and will only get better. Jacob deGrom won the Rookie of the Year and Zack Wheeler had ace-like moments. The young guns in the bullpen were all solid. If most of these players continue to progress, the Mets are indeed a playoff team.
On yet a third hand (?), the two big bats on the team, David Wright and Curtis Granderson, were terrible. If they do not bounce back, the Mets have no chance. And young players often do not progress. This scenario would likely result in a seventh losing season.
There certainly is a lot of wishful thinking at play. This is going to be Year 5 of Sandy Alderson’s great rebuilding plan. All of the pieces seem to be in place. If the Mets cannot win now, it might never happen. So you cannot blame the ever-optimistic Mets fans for having high hopes.
Aside from all of that, the Mets do have some pretty darned good young talent on the team. They could all have career years and lead the Mets to the post-season. It has happened to scores of teams before. Why can’t it happen with the Mets in 2015?