I love the air of optimism that occurs this time of year. Over the last few days we’ve seen a slew of MMO writers share their optimistic predictions for 2013, all sharing the same tone “Why not us?”
In truth, the question is fair. Last year, nobody saw Oakland coming. The year prior, Arizona caught the league off guard and took the division from the 2010 World champion Giants. The last two years have had fans around the country thinking, “Is this the year the Pirates compete?”
The truth is, baseball is a funny game. The Mets were as exciting of a team to watch as there was in the sport until the All-Star break last year. They ran out of gas, and luck.
Getting to that point is half the battle though isn’t?
I don’t share the same optimism about the predicted result for the Mets in 2013, but I do believe they have enough talent to surprise people. When you’re in a situation like the Mets, the theme of your season centers around the word “if.”
If Wright and Ike can lead the offense and complement each other.
If Harvey and Niese can make a name for themselves in the National League.
If Wheeler can come up and have an impact.
If d’Arnaud can be the backstop we need.
If the outfield surprises us all.
If the bullpen avoids huge let downs.
If the team stays healthy.
In reality, none of those scenarios are impossible or even unlikely at some point. It’s just a matter of whether it all comes together at the same time.
But I’m going to take their optimism a step further. In poker, this would be considered a raise.
I’m optimistic that within 3 years, the New York Mets are the toast of Gotham City. I look at the New York Yankees, and I see a team that is running out of time. You cannot outrun father time. None of us can. When you take a look at their farm system, anybody they are even close to excited about is still years away. They admit this.
The core of their dynasty is closing in on taking their final steps on the field, and their first steps toward Monument Park.
What if this is partly by design by the Mets? In 2005 and 2006, there’s no denying that the Mets made an attempt to take back New York City when they opened their checkbooks for guys like Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. It could be argued that they were a tad premature in their attempt because the Yankees were still willing and able to spend on huge free agents such as Sabathia.
The game is changing though. Players like Sabathia, and Tex are not as likely to enter free agency during their prime. More and more, teams are building around their young core and using free agency to complement those players. The Red Sox are trying to do it now, and the Yankees will start to head that way shortly.
Before you call my optimism foolish or blind, answer me this. If (there’s that word again) the Mets core of Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Wright, Davis, d’Arnaud are as advertised, then 2-3 years from now who do the Yankees have to compete with that? They will likely extend Cano, but after him, what exactly do the Yankees have to make me think the Mets aren’t built to attempt a takeover of New York City in the near future?
A 34 year old Teixeria? An aging Sabathia? An unhealthy Pineda? Who exactly is going to put them over? The truth is, it’s more likely that the Yankees are preparing for a similar roster situation as what the Mets were dealing with over the last few years.
There’s no denying that the Yankees regained control of New York City by developing their young talent and bringing in complimentary veterans. Why can’t the Mets be primed to do the same?
For those that may think this doesn’t matter, I will remind you that some of the greatest moments in this franchise’s history came when the Mets, not the Yankees had the heart of New York.
When I think of this year for the Mets, I will take each day with a grain of salt. Should they surprise me and compete for a playoff spot, I will appreciate the moment. To me, 2013 unlike 2012 and 2011 have a great purpose.
The prior years were about treading water, and finding ways to get rid of contracts. Now, this year is the start of special potentially special. Can Wheeler and Harvey take the necessary steps to become one of the best 1-2 combinations in the NL? Can d’Arnaud being behind the dish not only provide adequate numbers but also help our young pitchers grow? Can Ike Davis and David Wright create a feared 3-4 tandem for years to come?
If those realistic scenarios occur, I believe the Mets could once again take over the hearts of New York and have Yankees fans reminiscing about the way it used to be.