Now, I’m not throwing in the towel on this season (although at 40-50 and with the second-worst record in the National League, the playoffs seem like a pipe dream), but it is never too early to look ahead to next year. This was an easier exercise with Sandy Alderson as GM — the guy was as predictable as death and taxes. Brodie Van Wagenen is proving to be a wild card (perhaps a joker?), so it is impossible to predict what he might do. But let’s try anyway.
We begin with where the Mets are locked in, starting with the infield. They are set at first (Pete Alonso, obviously) and second base (Robinson Cano, unfortunately). Jeff McNeil will likely start at third base, a more natural position for him than outfield. Amed Rosario is the shortstop; or is he? More on that in a moment.
Let’s assume Wilson Ramos can ride out his difficulties with the Mets aces and hold down the catcher job for another year.
Out in the outfield, Michael Conforto will be in right, and hopefully, fingers crossed, pray to the God of your choice, Yoenis Cespedes will be in left.
So really, the only spot open for improvement is center field. Let’s say they sign someone like free agent-to-be Marcel Ozuna. Is that really enough to improve this disappointing team? I don’t think so. Can Jeff McNeil play shortstop? Because Anthony Rendon is also a free agent and he would look good manning third in the orange and blue.
Of course, will the Mets really sign two premium free agents? History says no. How about Rendon and keep McNeil in the outfield, with Conforto in center? I say no to that; enough with players playing out of position. The Mets have one of the worst defenses in the league this season because guys like J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith and McNeil are miscast as outfielders. It’s time to think about defense in Flushing.
Back to Rosario. He has been something of a disappointment, and since the Mets need to improve at more than one position, he could be the odd man out. I have no problem trading him for pitching help.
Speaking of pitching, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz should anchor the rotation. Anthony Kay should get a shot. Yes, he is struggling in Triple-A (the balls are juiced there, too, I am reading), but he will be 25 years old by the time next season gets underway. If not now, when? The Mets will be in the market for another starter, unless they move Robert Gsellman and/or Seth Lugo to starting jobs.
As far as the bullpen — well, I just don’t know (nor does anyone else, apparently). Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson will likely be back. One or both of Gsellman and Lugo, too. Which leaves the Mets in the familiar position of seeking bullpen arms. It will be a crapshoot, as it always is.
But maybe Van Wagenen shocks us and blows up the team, trading such guys as Syndergaard and Conforto in an effort to really go for it or to rebuild. Who knows with this guy? In any case, the Mets will be in a tough spot to improve this team. They are stuck with Cano, and really need Cespedes to come back and be his former self. Van Wagenen’s short track record does not fill most Mets fans with confidence that he can build a contender. But hey, maybe he got his rookie mistakes out of the way and is now ready to be a major league general manager.