Because Mets fans have become accustomed to expecting the absolute worst when a player suffers an injury, we all questioned if Michael Conforto would ever truly be able to be Michael Conforto ever again.
Moreover, we all questioned whether Conforto would ever really be able to play in the first half of the upcoming season.
Well, it turns out Conforto is a much faster healer than anyone could have imagined.
Rather quickly into Spring Training, it was announced the team targeted May 1 as the date he would come off the disabled list.
Based upon how well he played this Spring, which included his hitting homers off left-handed pitching in intrasquad games, the Mets got to the point where they actually considered putting Conforto on the Opening Day roster to be available to pinch hit.
In a surprising twist, even with Conforto appearing in Grapefruit League games, the Mets are going to be conservative with their best player.
Perhaps, this is the best news of all for a player Mets fans hope can push his name for a second consecutive All Star berth, and maybe, just maybe, MVP consideration.
2. Mets Build Best Roster Possible
One of the gripes over the past few seasons was how the Mets focused on playing under-performing veterans over promising young players. With a new manager at the helm, Mickey Callaway, those days appear well behind the team.
Additionally, Seth Lugo not only made his first Opening Day roster as well, but he was also named the fifth starter.
Lastly, this will also likely include Brandon Nimmo as the Opening Day leadoff hitter and center fielder. Much like the aforementioned young players, Nimmo saw an opportunity before him, and he took full advantage of that opportunity by hitting .306/.371/.613.
Hopefully, we will see him bring his exceptional on base skills into the regular season.
3. Mets Are Ready
Earlier this Spring, there was some hand wringing over a long Mets losing streak. The mild angst that may have been felt among some of the fanbase is now long forgotten as the Mets players are ready for the 2018 season.
Yoenis Cespedes hit four homers over his last five games. Travis d’Arnaud (.333/.342/.667) and Kevin Plawecki (.270/.341/.405) appear ready to carry their September 2017 numbers into the 2018 season. Even the much maligned Adrian Gonzalez is in a groove finishing Spring Training going 4-for-11 with a double and a homer.
On the pitching side, Noah Syndergaard came into Spring throwing triple digits, and he’s only gotten stronger. Jacob deGrom is healthy from an early hiccup, and he’s ready to go. Matt Harvey has looked the best he has in three years, and Steven Matz has dominated over his final few Spring Training starts.
Really, there are only two goals in Spring Training: No. 1, get ready for the season, and No. 2, stay healthy. With few exceptions, this Mets team has been healthy, and this is a team raring to go as the Mets are ready to open the season.
If the Mets look like they did as Spring Training came to an end, the 2018 season promises to be a great season.
1. Smith’s Disastrous Spring
With the Mets focus on carrying their best players on the Opening Day roster, and the really poor Spring Adrian Gonzalez had, there was a real window of opportunity for Dominic Smith to start the year as the Opening Day first baseman.
That never materialized.
First, Smith showed up late to the first Spring Training game, a game which he was slated to start. Even worse, the media reported Smith’s lateness was an issue he had after his call-up in 2017, and the veterans addressed the issue with him.
Callaway responded to Smith’s tardiness by benching the 22 year old. Ultimately, Smith would only play in one Spring Training game because he would soon suffer a quad injury.
Based upon recent reports, he is still not able to run with the injury. This means even if Gonzalez falters, it is likely, Smith will still not get a chance to crack the Major League roster.
Overall, Smith had a real opportunity to break camp, and he was off to a great start by reporting to camp in the best shape of his life. His punctuality and injury meant it will go all for naught.
2. No Five Aces Ever
Before this current group of Mets starters, there was Generation K. Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen, and Bill Pulsipher were supposed to be three aces atop the Mets rotation, and that triumvirate was supposed to bring the Mets the third World Series title in franchise history. Not only did that not happen, but the trio would never even appear in the same rotation.
That is the case with the Five Aces in a sense. Due to injuries to each of these pitchers, the Mets have not had the proverbial Five Aces pitch one time through the rotation. There appeared to be a real shot it would happen this Spring, and those chances increased when Jason Vargas broke the hamate bone in his non-pitching hand. The only problem is Wheeler never got the memo.
Entering Spring Training, it appeared Wheeler was all but assured a spot on the Opening Day roster.
During Spring Training, the team publicly debated about whether he belonged in the rotation or the bullpen. Ultimately, Wheeler made the case easy for them by showing them the answer was neither. He didn’t do enough to show he belonged in the majors.
As a result, not only will the Five Aces not appear in the same rotation, they won’t even appear on the same pitching staff to start the season.
3. Not Wright
David Wright missed 124 games due to complications arising from his spinal stenosis. In 2016, he played 37 games, and he has note appeared in a game since. He’s had surgeries since then, and yet, he is still trying to get back onto the field.
Sadly, it’s not a surprise anymore his comeback attempt is going nowhere.
Despite not doing much of anything in Spring Training, he was shut down again, and he will not be able to resume any baseball activities until May. Based upon what we’ve seen, that timetable will either be pushed back, or Wright will not be able to do much more than run and catch.
Overall, Wright is the best position player this franchise has ever produced. He’s been a model citizen and a great baseball player. He’s deserved better than this. Shockingly, the spirit is still willing even with his flesh being ever so weak.
As a Mets fan and Wright fan, this is just hard to watch. You know his various attempts are not going to go well, but each time, it ends worse than his prior attempt. Now, he seems more defeated than he ever has.
As Mets fans, the only thing we can really hope for is that he just gets one more chance to just step on the field and take his spot at third base for half an inning so the fans can give him the standing ovation, and really, the goodbye he has earned.