The question is always posed at the start of the exhibition schedule: How important is it to win during spring training?
For most teams it isn’t and history is full of examples of spring training winners who were flops during the regular season. The reverse also holds true.
Probably nothing, but over the next five weeks I believe it is important for the Mets to show something, if for no other reason but to get a good feeling about themselves. And, for us to get a good feeling about them.
Let’s put it this way: I’d rather have some feeling of optimism and have it dashed later rather than be totally turned off before Opening Day.
The Mets are a rebuilding team coming off a drastic second-half collapse that turned a potentially winning season into their fourth straight losing year. The Mets winning during spring training could give them something to build on.
However, even if they don’t win, it is important they play well. They must get in the habit of playing fundamentally sound and aggressive baseball now, because as a team lacking in overall talent, it is the only way they can compete.
What the Mets must learn this spring is to not beat themselves. They have to take the extra base, get in the habit of making productive outs and working the count. They must throw to the right base, back-up plays and not give away outs on defense.
As the pitchers gain their arm strength will come command and pitch selection. They won’t do this against minor leaguers, but when they play the Nationals, Cardinals or Braves, they certainly can apply that approach to their regulars.
Terry Collins wants to emphasize fundamentals. Let’s seem them respond, and let’s also see how Collins reacts when they don’t. This is a lame duck manager; he needs to send the message he’s still in charge.
There are other things the Mets must work on.
Yes, there are a lot of questions the Mets must answer and a lot of things have to happen for them to have a winning season. Even if they don’t, there is the expectation of playing a better brand of baseball.
The first thing in learning how to win comes from playing the game the right way. That attitude starts today.