Hope, Finally

29 Jul

It’s been a while since I’ve felt this, and even longer since I said this out loud. Because of that, I’m kind of scared to. I feel like if I say it then it won’t be so. It’s been so long, though, more than five years, and it feels like even more, and so what the hell. Even if I do jinx things, they really can’t get much worse.

You see, yesterday I spent about twenty minutes on the phone with my brother talking about the Mets. That was during my lunch break. At night I spoke to my dad about the Mets for another ten minutes.

Both conversations were optimistic ones.

I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.

It kind of snuck up on me. Suddenly, I can go position-by-position and see glimmers of hope, or at least competence at each one. This time last year I couldn’t even name the Mets’ starting lineup. But now…

Now they’ve got Travis d’Arnaud, who apparently has learned how to hit Major League pitching in his grizzled old age.

There’s Lucas Duda at first, who always had a great batting eye, and always showed signs of power, but now, since being give the opportunity to play every day, is putting it all together and seems like he could be one of the better hitting first baseman in the National League (as my dad said yesterday, Ralph Kiner always liked him so maybe we—the Duda doubters, a group that I was a part of—should have all known better).

Daniel Murphy might not be an all-star, even though he was an All Star, but he’s a professional major league hitter and a competent second baseman.

David Wright is David Wright, even if his numbers have fallen a bit.

Juan Lagares is one of the best fielding center fielders in baseball, and the hitting seems to be coming along, albeit slowly.

Curtis Granderson may be overpaid, but he’s still a starting outfielder, which is something the Mets haven’t had many of over the past few years.

And then there’s the pitching, which may cause me to go blind if I keep talking about it. Say Harvey comes back next year and at full strength, which, yes, is a big IF, but nowadays not something that shouldn’t be expected, either. So you’ve got Harvey at the 1; Zack Wheeler (24 year old with a FIP of 3.47 this year and striking out a batter per inning) at the 2; Niese at the 3; and Jacob deGrom (the Mets lead the league in lower-case “d”s at the front of last names)— a 25-year-old who, in his first 87 innings in the major leagues has struck out 83 batters and has an ERA under 3—Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and some other cheap veteran who they can sign in the offseason rounding out the rotation.

And not to mention you’ve got 21-year-old Noah Syndergaard dominating hitters despite pitching in the AAA version of Coors Field. Add in a bullpen, which is finally full of hard throwing  young ex-starters—such as Jenria Mejia, Jeurys Familia—instead of pricey vets, and which will also consist of Vic Black, maybe a healthy Bobby Parnell (who Sandy Alderson should have traded last year, but that’s for another time), maybe Rafael Montero, another talented pitching prospect the Mets have who, because of the guys in front of him, is probably headed to the bullpen, or another team (more on that in a bit) sometime soon, and what you have is possibly the best pitching staff in baseball.

Yep, I think I just went blind.

That’s a team that’s ready to compete next year (and yes, I know this year isn’t over but for the post-Madoff Mets it’s always about next year). It’s really only missing two players/parts: an everyday shortstop, and a corner outfielder who can mash. Add in those, and get a healthy Matt Harvey back, and suddenly, somehow, the Mets become legitimate World Series contenders.

I’ve made fun of Sandy Alderson a good amount over the past few years, and I still am baffled by how he handled the whole Jose Reyes thing (imagine if he traded him for a top hitting prospect; if he did, the Mets could be competing for a playoff spot this year), but when a man deserves praise you gotta give it to him.

Unfortunately, all this optimism is directed at next year. This year, well I’m afraid this year is lost. But as long as they keep trying, and Bartolo Colon keeps being really fat and pitching, then I’ll keep watching.

It makes the waiting more exciting.

As for Tulo and CarGo, well, I’m not sure yet.

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