On Monday, Zack Wheeler told reports that he intends to make the decision hard on the Mets to send him down rather than have him break camp with the team, and that he won’t go down without a fight. This is just a microcosm for the 2013 New York Mets roster, now chock full of players who detest the idea of losing, are self-motivated and are workhorses willing to take on challenges ahead and become that miracle team that shocks the world. Intangibles are so crucial to the success of a team like the 2013 Mets, and there are plenty of Amazin’s that posess them. Here’s just a few of those players:
The veteran Mets are ready to win, as they have been battling for a number of years. David Wright, the unofficial –soon to be official–captain of this ballclub, has shown his commitment to this team by signing a deal to keep him in Flushing for the majority of his remaining baseball life. He believes in this team and the direction they are going, and wants to be a core part of it. In the second half of 2012, Wright wanted to win so badly that he tried to make up for the shortcomings of the entire team all on his own, and as a result became part of the problem by dropping over 250 points in OPS from the first to second half. The Mets have made it so that Wright is the face of the franchise for years to come, and now he will be looking to put up the numbers in 2013 that prove it.
Johan Santana may not be as intricate of a part of the future plans for the Amazin’s as Wright, but he is the best example on this staff of a player who leaves everything off the field and will stop at nothing to win. The examples for Santana are innumerable, his 2008 complete game shutout on a bum knee, playing well into ’09 with bone chips in his elbow and of course his 134 pitch no-hitter. Santana has faced more than his fair share of injuries over his Met tenure, but whenever he has been physically capable of pitching, the now 34-year old will give it everything he’s got no matter what the standings before. He was right prior to 2011 when he said he’s the “beast of the NL East”, in more ways than one.
The returning younger guys with that same firey spirit are highlighted by Ike Davis, the now 25-year old powerhouse patrolling first base. Ike was one of the best examples of overcoming adversity in 2012. At one point batting under .150 on the year, Davis surged to hit 20 home runs in the second half, only second to Chase Headley and led all NL 1st baseman in OPS. “Pure Chaos” was definitely back with a vengeance out of the gate post All-Star game, and he will surely have a fire under him as he heads into 2013 to prove that he belongs in the conversation among the best first baseman of the National League.
Top-prospect, now New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey has a winning personality and surely has shown that throughout his entire baseball life. His mound presence and tenacity is something to behold and extremely rare from someone as young as Harvey. He has the maturity and baseball mentality of a seasoned veteran while also maintaining that burning desire to win and not except anything but just that. In what will be his first full season in the show, Matt Harvey is primed to be a shining bright spot on the Mets season while also establishing himself as a forced to be reckoned with in the NL East.
Mike Baxter has not exactly been known as one of the more prominent Mets over the past two season, but his heart for the game and his disregard for his own body has been quite historically documented. He is a scrappy, hard-nosed player that puts the game before himself and never forgets how lucky he is to put on a uniform on a daily basis. Now in 2013 being used in a more significant role, Baxter will put his style of baseball to work on a more regular basis as he and the Mets hope he’ll surprise some people.
The subject of recent trade rumors, Justin Turner is said to have a big supporter in Terry Collins, and there’s a good reason why. Turner, like Baxter, gives the team everything he has and always hustles and plays hard. both are fighting to remain in the bigs at all times and that along with their self-motivated yearning to win will be valuable assets through the highs and lows over the course of 162 games.
The New Guys:
The center of the deal that sent Dickey to the Blue Jays, Travis d’Arnaud is best known for his abilities at the plate and behind it, but also just as valuable is his mental toughness and gamer attitude. A catcher needs to be a bull dog at the plate and have no fear, and d’Arnaud fits that bill. He, like Harvey, has the composure and maturity of a veteran while containing the athleticism of a young budding prospect. He’ll likely start in Triple-A, however when he eventually gets the call, he could be just the mid-season shot in the arm the Mets have so desperately needed over the past few years.
Holding down the backstop for d’Arnaud, John Buck is another player known for his mental toughness and calming presence to the pitcher in-game. As someone who has to keep a pitcher mentally in the game if they are fazed, call the game and be a leader on the field; and many times that take paramount over any offensive production a team can get out of the position. Luckily for the Mets, both the catchers they acquired can do a little bit of everything you hope to see out of a catcher; and that could pay dividends come Opening Day.
Finally of the first-year Mets was probably the best under-the-radar move of the winter. The signing of Shaun Marcum not only brought a solid arm capable of filling the empty rotation spot left by Dickey, but also brought a gamer. Marcum missed the ’09 season to Tommy John surgery, however came back, putting up the best figures of his five season Toronto career. Believing that they were selling high, the Kansas City native was shipped to Milwaukee for budding third base prospect Brett Lawrie. Making the adjustment to the National League, Marcum continued to be a top-of-the-rotation starter before having elbow problems at the end of 2012 that resulted in his season being cut short. He has battled back from adversity and has been a fighter all his baseball career. He is not afraid to pitch to contact and despite the injuries and the changing of leagues, Marcum has remained consistent through every twist and turn; something the Amazin’s need a little more of.
These are just a few of many as there are sure to be plenty more. We have seen this team have flashes of being scrappy, being able to grind it out from the first pitch to the last out. Now with a young crop establishing themselves mixed with an infusion of newly acquired players and seasoned veterans, and the Mets have a core of mentally tough, firey players who will stop at nothing to win. We have seen players who will fade out or fall off pace when it gets to the dog days of summer, however with a team of players who take it one game at a time and feed off of one another’s energy, they may just have the heart to be one of those teams to shock everybody.
Last year it was the Athletics and Orioles, 2011 it was the Rays and the Cardinals, 2010 it was the World Champion San Francisco Giants; each year there is at least one team who surprises everybody and makes a push for the pennant race. Baseball is the most unpredictable out of all the major sports; and there is a reason for that. That is because baseball is played over 30 well-manicured fields across the country, not in a computer or on paper. The legends and champions are determined not through the reputation that precedes them but the one that they make for themselves in the upcoming year.
Each year there is at least one miracle, why not the team who coined miracles?