In the 2006 movie, Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby says, “If you ain’t first you’re last.” This statement is true for several sports teams. If the New England Patriots, Cleveland Cavaliers, or the New York Yankees don’t win a championship, their fans and organization review the season as a failure. I am taking the same approach for the 2018 season, “If the Mets aint first… their last.”
For the past several years, I watched the Mets struggle under manager Terry Collins. New York went to the World Series in 2015, but that was because they had a “lights out” pitching staff and Daniel Murphy was “Babe Ruth” like in the playoffs. In 7 years, Collins accumulated a record of 551-583. Under his watch, the Mets made constant mental errors. The team would miss cut off throws, not go to 1st and 3rd on a base hits and really struggled to do the little things to help their team win. Well, out with the old, (Collins) in with the new.
The Mets hired 42-year-old Mickey Callaway. The Former Cleveland Indians pitching coach has no prior managing experience but his Indians led the league in ERA last season. The Strength of this New York team is their young pitchers and Callaway will get the most out of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Zach Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz. Callaway will now become one of the youngest managers in the majors. That in itself will mark a significant change for the Mets, who had the oldest manager in the majors in 2017 with the 67 year old Collins. Longtime Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen was let go at the end of last year as well.
The Mets “young guns” will love pitching for their new skipper. Callaway has a tough but fair approach and at 42, he can relate to the modern day player, something Collins really didn’t do. Players liked Collins but I don’t think they were motivated under him. “The Amazins” will be a professional, aggressive and have confident swagger in the dugout and on the field with their new manager. Callaway is already making bold predictions, early this month he said, ““The front office has gotten us the players. The coaching staff is the best coaching staff in the big leagues. “If we don’t do something special with the group we have in place, it’s going to be on the leadership. That’s going to be on me.”
Talking about the Mets pitchers, the skipper said, “I have been around some pretty good arms and this is the best group of arms and stuff that I’ve ever seen, from top to bottom. It’s really amazing.” “I think Cleveland was a spot or a place that had the same-type guys that we do, pitchers that have no egos and just want to win games.”
On offense the Mets should be one of the league leaders in homeruns, however, I fully expect this team to not “Live and Die” by the longball. Look for the new staff to manufacture runs, steal and be aggressive on the base path. My projected stating lineup is as follows.
- Amed Rosario- If Rosario is not the lead off batter, who is? Take advantage of his young legs and let him get the opportunity to be the spark plug at the top of the lineup.
- Asdrubal Cabrera- In 135 games, Cabrera hit 14 HR’s, had 59 RBI and batted .280.
- Michael Conforto– The former Oregon State University star had a bounce back year last season. In 109 games he hit 27 HR’s, had 75 RBI and batted .279. Conforto could be the most productive player in the Mets lineup this season. Hitting in front of Yoenis Cespedes will let Michael get a ton of fast balls. Opposing pitchers will not want to walk him with Cespedes coming to the plate.
- Yoenis Cespedes- When healthy the man they call “Yo-Ces” is a five-tool player. He can hit for power, average, has speed, is a very good fielder and has a cannon for an arm. He only played in 81 games last season, but he put up scary numbers. He hit 17 HR’s and 42 RBI.
- Jay Bruce- With two teams last season Bruce hit 36 HR’s and drove in 101 RBI. He is a solid #3, #4 or #5 Hitter. He should drive in over 90 runs this year.
- Adrian Gonzalez- At 36 years old, Gonzalez is a huge question mark in this lineup. He provides leadership and professionalism in the locker room. If he’s healthy he can have a comeback year. Two years ago he had 90 RBI.
- Todd Frazier- Last season, Frazier hit 27 HR’s and drove in 76 RBI. The problem here is he batting .213. He should be revitalized coming back home to play for New York. He was born in Tom’s River New Jersey.
- Travis d’Arnaud– For years, I have been hearing how d’Arnaud was a very good offensive catcher. But, I simply haven’t seen it. Last season he showed promise, hitting 16 HR’s and drove in 57 RBI. He batted .242 and will have to do a lot better if he wants to be New York’s ever day catcher.
Prediction:There are a ton of question marks at the bottom of this lineup. But, if the top 5 can get on base Gonzalez and Frazier could put up very good RBI numbers.
I expect the Mets to be in the top 3 in ERA and Home Runs.
The Mets should win over 90 plus games this season and make the playoffs. Look for Syndergaard and deGrom to compete for the Cy Young award and Callaway to get some Manager of the Year votes.
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