An MMO Fan Shot by Kent Tukeli
The Mets were among a handful of National League teams expected to compete for a World Series ring in 2017. Instead, New York struggles to approach .500 with just over a month to go in the regular season. No longer a realistic candidate to make the post-season, the franchise became sellers at the trade deadline. The MLB betting lines back that notion up, as the Mets are no longer mathematically involved in the hunt for October.
This doesn’t mean that the New York Mets have started a full tear-down and rebuild. A severe slew of injuries, not a lack of talent, prevented the team from competing with the best. Were there mistakes made along the way? Of course, but none that would have prevented this team from the postseason had they been reasonably healthy. Despite a difficult year, the Mets can still be contenders in 2018 because of the considerable talent remaining on roster.
Injury Bug Forces A Sell-Off
Injuries started early and often for the New York Mets this year, beginning with the annual David Wright health watch. Noah Syndergaard would be the next star to fall. Initially diagnosed with bicep tendinitis, doctors eventually determined that the fire-baller was suffering through a torn right lat. Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and others have been impeded by physical ailments as well. Similar to the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL, the Mets have disappointed, mostly due to the injury bug.
New York was already out of contention when the trade deadline approached, so they traded Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker, and most recently Curtis Granderson, scooping up a variety of pitching prospects along the way. Not the best haul, but the return was affected by the lack of demand for positional players. At the very least, New York secured assets instead of losing players for nothing.
Starters were left untouched, most notably Jacob deGrom, who would’ve commanded a Yankee’s ransom on the trade market. Asdrubal Cabrera appears ready to move onto the next phase of his career, despite staying put for now. Interest in Cabrera is reportedly picking up. Mets youngsters are the silver lining this year, ready to fill in for fan favorites as they move on.
Mets Could Rebuild On The Fly
The departure of Duda, Bruce, Granderson and Reed rips a chunk out of the current lineup, but the starting pitching remains intact. A healthy rotation featuring DeGrom, Syndergaard, Harvey and Wheeler match up well against most teams. At their best, these four could rival Dodgers starters in a playoff setting. A strong return by Familia could stabilize the bullpen, giving the Mets enough pitching to greatly improve their playoff odds in 2018.
New York has the luxury of watching Michael Conforto grow into a monster at the plate. His ceiling appears sky-high, with a genuine chance to evolve into an NL MVP. Shortstop has been a difficult position for the Mets, with fans waiting impatiently for the debut of Amed Rosario. The young phenom finally arrived on August 1 against the Rockies after hitting .328 in the minors with Las Vegas. Rosario gets more comfortable every game, flashing his potential as a five-tool player.
First base prospect Dominic Smith arrived shortly after Rosario, and after only 10 games he clubbed his second major league home run. Before being promoted, Smith boasted a .330 average with 34 doubles and 16 home runs for the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.
Most teams can’t plug in young, MLB-ready talent like the Mets, which cushions the long-term pain of trading proven veterans for prospects. Since New York already boasts an outstanding pitching staff, the front office can focus on finding a bat during the offseason, quickly filling one of the vacancies. Theoretically, the Mets could allow key youngsters to gain experience in the MLB while fielding a team that competes with National League heavyweights.
Certainly, the Mets must be more fortunate in terms of health. Yoenis Cespedes would have to trend towards his 2015 form, when he lit the NL on fire after switching leagues. It’s impossible to predict the offseason, but the Mets find themselves in a rare position. Usually, sellers before the trade deadline don’t have the potential talent of New York. The Mets could compete for the World Series next year without sacrificing the development of their farm system.
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This Fan Shot was contributed by Kent Tukeli. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 20,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.