The ever optimistic captain David Wright thinks the Mets are “substantially” better than they were last year. It is a bold statement that may not prove to be correct.
“I’m sure Sandy is still trying to make the team better. In what capacity I’m not sure,” Wright told ESPN New York. “But I do think when we take the field Opening Day this year we will substantially be better than when we took the field last year. I’m not sure how many wins that correlates into. Only going out there and playing the game will tell. But there’s no question in my mind that I love the moves we’ve made.”
Let’s examine this closely. There is no doubt that the 2014 outfield is much improved over the 2013 product. The outfield of Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Juan Lagares/Eric Young is far better on paper and in reality to Lucas Duda, Marlon Byrd and Collin Cowgill/Kirk Nieuwenhuis, so in that way Wright is absolutely correct.
But then there is the rest of the team. Travis d’Arnaud should be an upgrade over John Buck, but it is too early to state that definitively. The infield is the same as it was last season; possibly worse with Duda starting over Ike Davis if Sandy Alderson can ever get a taker for Davis. Hopefully Ruben Tejada will be the player he was in 2012, so there might be some growth. But the same cast of characters does not qualify as substantially better.
As far as the pitching, Bartolo Colon effectively replaces Matt Harvey, and that is a step down. The rest of the starters and the bullpen should be about the same, so the pitching should not be substantially better unless Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee take giants leaps and suddenly emerge as aces. What is the likelihood of that?
The outfield acquisitions alone should make the Mets a better team this season than they were in 2013, but to say they are “substantially” better might be a bit of a reach. You can’t blame David Wright for trying to put a positive spin things. He has invested his entire life with this team, so if he were negative he would probably want to blow his brains out, joining most of the fans.