2015. It has finally arrived. The year we have told ourselves we can realistically look to be a legitimate playoff contender. Finally. No more excuses. The bad contracts have been purged. The young pitching has arrived. Matt Harvey is presumably healthy.
But has the team done enough to really embrace the notion of being a contender? Look at the Padres. Much like the Mets, they have a traditional small market payroll, with a similar cadre of young pitchers and a recent stretch of losing baseball. But instead of resting on their young arms and their pitcher’s park, they have gone all-in on 2015 and have completely transformed their offense. Welcome Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers (among others). In 2015, the team with the 2nd best pitching staff in the NL will finally get some help. You can make the argument that their offense needed much more help than the Mets, and you would be accurate. But they certainly didn’t half-ass it this off-season.
What has Sandy Alderson done? Probably the biggest move was one NOT made, in that Daniel Murphy is still our 2B. I mean, how does a team on the self-described precipice of success unnecessarily trade their best hitter? I never understood how that would be a positive. Other than that, we welcome in Michael Cuddyer, John Mayberry Jr., and a shorter fence in right center. It is true that starting the year with Cuddyer vs. Chris Young is a clear improvement. Mayberry is bench player and I just don’t get too excited about fences.
The team as it stands doesn’t compete with the Nationals. Frankly, there is not a move we can make that brings us to their level by April. Therefore, for us to be a contender, we will need to be a wild-card contender. This is no cake-walk as the number of teams competing for those two spots will be numerous and the competition, fierce. Getting from 79 wins to 86 wins will be nice, but if it does not translate to October baseball, it will feel hollow. And even getting to 85+ wins is no guarantee with our current roster. More reliance on hypotheticals:
“If Matt Harvey comes back healthy and in previous form…”
“If Granderson and Wright return to their past levels of production…”
“If Wilmer Flores can handle SS everyday…”
This is 2015. Weren’t we supposed to be past this? There are still six weeks until pitchers and catchers report, and over three months until Opening Day. Much can still change. Sandy still has a logjam of starting pitchers, and one glaring position that could use an upgrade. It’s a new year and with it comes new levels of expectations. Get it done.