Buckle Up, We’re Going for a Ride!!
This summer I found myself in a place I hadn’t been for 25 years – Walt Disney World. My family strayed from our normal vacation and decided to go visit the mouse. We figured my 6 nieces and nephews were all old enough (ranging from 5 to 12) to fully enjoy all that the parks have to offer. For those of us old (and tall) enough – some of the top highlights are the roller coasters, the thrill rides. Whether at Disney World or anywhere else, there’s something to be said for the exhilaration that comes with all the twists and turns. While I had an absolutely wonderful time with my family (and my soon to be “second” family), the roller coaster I’m most excited for at this moment is in Flushing.
The NY Mets are among my top rated thrill rides every year (no offense, Coney Island). Given how crazy this MLB offseason has been – 2020 is promising to be a hell of a ride.
The 2019 version of the Mets roller coaster definitely had its peaks and valleys. Here are some of the high points of the season – when the roller coaster climbed to the top of its tracks:
There aren’t really enough superlatives to attach to Jake. His 2018 campaign was utterly phenomenal (especially when you consider his lack of run support) and finished with him winning the Cy Young. He followed that up with another Cy Young in 2019, posting a 2.43 ERA in 32 starts, tallying 255 Ks. He baffled hitters to the tune of a 0.971 WHIP, 6.8 H/9, and 11.3 K/9.
Another major talking point when it comes to deGrom is how poorly the Mets offense plays for him. His run support was marginally better which left him with only 11 wins on the season. However, in game where he received 0-2 runs of support from his team, deGrom held hitters to a .191 average, and posted a 0.953 WHIP. However, if we’re speaking of run support…
There was talk entering last season about whether he was “big-league ready”. Offensively he had been utterly torching the minor leagues, but there were still questions about his glove at first base. There was speculation that he’d stay in the minors out of camp because of that (and service time implications).
Thankfully, management opted to bring their “best team” to NY out of Spring Training – and Pete was among those players. Mets fans everywhere rejoiced, and Pete rewarded their decision with an absolute MONSTER of a rookie year. His final slash line: a .260 BA/.358 OBP/.941 OPS. He scored 103 runs and led the majors with 53 HR. Did I mention he won the HR Derby at the All-Star Game? No wonder he won Rookie of the Year too.
The Supporting Players
For all the headlines the aforementioned studs got, there were some other standout performers for the Mets in 2019. Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis both stepped up and were consistent producers for the club. McNeil managed to stay healthy for the majority of the season, appearing in 133 games as opposed to only 63 in 2018). He contributed a good deal offensively (23 HR, 75 RBI) while proving a true asset defensively. McNeil played all over the field, putting in time at 2B, 3B and all over the outfield. Davis was a nice complement to McNeil, tossing in 22 HR and 57 RBI of his own. A healthy Michael Conforto in the lineup was always a welcome sight as well.
You know the saying – “what goes up, must come down”. Well – every good roller coaster follows up the steep climbs with rapid descent, plunging its riders at high speed toward imminent disaster. Let’s revisit some of the less impressive parts of 2019, shall we?
I distinctly remember my sense of excitement when Yoenis Cespedes was traded to the Mets in July of 2015. For a little while after his arrival, he delivered. The first 41 games of his Mets tenure were unbelievable – hitting .309 with 17 HR and 42 RBI. He was proving to be worth losing Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa (the players he was traded for). Unfortunately, since he re-signed 4 weeks after opting out of his contract in 2016, the tides have turned. Basically, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy, appearing in only 119 games. After having surgery on both heels, there was hope that he’d be able to return during 2019. That hope quickly evaporated after an ankle injury he suffered in May. It’s subsequently been revealed that he suffered the injury in an encounter with a wild boar on his Florida property. Needless to say, one wonders what he will look like on this team if and when he does finally return to the field.
Off the Field Moves
After the 2018 season, the Mets shook up the front office. They hired Brodie Van Wagenen to replace Sandy Alderson as GM. He made a big splash in his new job almost immediately – by making a blockbuster trade for some big names – Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. I won’t even bother recounting how that trade played out in 2019 because I can’t bear the pain. Needless to say, it hasn’t been pretty so far.
Bullpen, Bullpen, Bullpen
This seems to be a common theme around MLB these days, but the Mets bullpen has been disappointing, to say the least. The aforementioned Edwin Diaz was a shadow of what he had been the previous year in Seattle. Former closer Jeurys Familia had a pretty abysmal season as well. The relievers collectively had a 4.99 ERA (6th worst in the league) and blew 27 saves. There were, however, teams who were worse in some of the bullpen categories who still made the playoffs (Washington and the Dodgers come to mind). Things need to improve if this team is going to get over the hump.
Humps are a common feature among roller coasters. They allow the speed to stabilize after the slow climb or rapid descent. They’re also accompanied by a series of twists, loops and sharp turns that serve to complement the marquis moments of each ride. The 2019 Mets had it all for sure.
Another Season, Same Results?
Despite the exhilaration and agony throughout 2019, the Mets did manage to finish with a winning record. It was their first time in three years. Their second half was historic. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they were only the 4th team in MLB history with a second-half record at least 20 games over .500 after entering the All-Star Break 10 or more games under .500. They added Marcus Stroman mid-season in 2019 – will he continue to improve in 2020? They’ve made several moves to try and bolster the bullpen (Brad Brach, Dellin Betances), and they’ve got new energy from Luis Rojas, who will steer the ship as the manager for 2020. What will it mean for the season ahead? Will it be more of the same for us Mets fans:
Only time will tell – but I’m confident this team can compete and I look forward to another thrill ride. All Aboard!!!
2020 Prediction: 88-74, 2nd In NL East, Wild Card Team
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