With The Super Bowl and The NBA All Star Game clearly in our rear view mirror, it is time to look towards the upcoming baseball season in New York as the Mets look to go that final step to A World Championship with all the pieces put in place by a brilliant game plan orchestrated by Sandy Alderson and his baseball group.
What the Mets accomplished last year was nearly unthinkable as the team assembled in Port St Lucie 12 months ago but as they gather in 2016 they must understand that this team is no longer the hunter--They are the HUNTED and as such, need to have an impeccable attention to detail as they prepare for the season.
This starting rotation-top to bottom--is the best in baseball when you consider Bartolo Colon is the fifth starter with Zack Wheeler waiting in the wings and the bullpen is much improved over a year ago as Familia, Reed, and Bastardo form a trio that is not exactly Chapman, Betances, and Miller but will be as effective a trio as we will see in the NL.
But to me the biggest transformation will be the lineup as it has not only become a deep set of hitters who will pose issues for opponents to navigate through but more importantly, they don't need career years from any one of them--they just need what is on the back of their baseball cards. And their bench is much improved as the likes of Flores, Lagares, Tejada, and DeAza comprise players very capably of filling in very well even if disabled list stints of the regular players pile up in mid-season.
Terry Collins finally has a team that from the day spring training begins has all the resources he needs to be a World Champion. And to me he is the perfect manager to lead this group. It is wise not to underestimate the fact that he has created a true team atmosphere where honesty reigns supreme. More importantly, if tough conversations need to occur they ALWAYS happen one on one. Those conversations may not be pretty but they are PRIVATE-not done through the media and done with only 1 word in mind-WINNING.
At the same time, his chief competition in the NL East had clubhouse issues that Matt Williams was unable to correct. I will admit the new manager, Dusty Baker is a pro at rectifying chemistry issues but this could be the biggest challenge of his career as to me the biggest issue still resides in that clubhouse-a guy named Papelbon.
Met fans-last year was a very special finish to the season but in Mid-July nobody saw it coming. This year, we all see it coming which makes it a special ride. There will be peaks and valleys but this team has an It factor that reminds me of so many New York Championship teams. They really do not have a weakness on this team. There may be better lineups out there like The Cubs for instance--but the Cub bullpen is a huge question mark. There might be a deeper bullpen or 2 but Familia is the best closer in the NL. And yes we all know there is no better rotation top to bottom in baseball than the Mets.
And pitching like this that has all developed within an organization--like Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, and Wheeler comes around once every few decades in this sport. It eliminates long losing streaks and makes those visits to CitiField feel like a 3 day visit in the dentist chair getting root canal for opponents. Ask The Nationals about that.
The ride begins real soon-climb aboard.