Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Could the Mets Be Better Than You Think?

The short answer to the question in the title is "yes." The key word in the title is "could."

The Mets could be better than one would expect this year. This is not a whimsical could where you say "the Mets could be better if the Phillies lose all of their starters to injury" or something like that. It's a realistic could that's reliant on a few factors that have the potential to play out.

There are two players that play key roles in this scenario and they're people you may have already forgotten about: Chris Young & Chris Capuano. The lefty & righty starters have already looked sharp this spring. If they can return to the players they once were and stay healthy, the Mets would have the most underrated starting rotations in the NL. This assumes Pelfrey and Dickey repeats their performance from last year, and Niese continues to grow but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Sure the news of Jason Bay potentially on the disabled list doesn't help the Mets efforts to be better, but it's not like it hurts them either. Look at where the Mets were last year before Jason Bay went on the DL.  Bay was abysmal. Hard to say that he helped the team at all and yet the team was competitive up until the West Coast trip after the All Star break. The fact that the Mets plummeted after Bay got injured is a fallacy of false cause. Bay's departure had no impact. Even if he was healthy, it would have no bearing on the Mets outcome.

A Jason Bay that is back to his old self would certainly help the Mets cause, but I think we've come to the realization that he's not the player we hoped he'd be. Lucas Duda is turning out to be an interesting young player and Pagan's growth partnered with Beltran's return are significant improvements even without Bay.

The final reason there's hope for a competitive year is the surprise of the bullpen. KRod is not the same closer of old, but the amount of arms the Mets have acquired this spring is shocking to me. I figured they'd be desperate to make a move for some bullpen help, but so far there appears to be enough decent bullpen arms to make things work. That's not to say they won't have their struggles, but it's not as dire a situation as one might think.

I'm not concluding that the Mets will make the playoffs this year. I'm simply saying there's hope for some interesting baseball. Call it spring fever or an anxiousness to have baseball return, but things could be way worse for the Mets than they situations not considered.

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