Let this column serve as a follow-up to the one I wrote in this very paper back on March 5 of this year.
“Mets’ future not quite here yet,” is what I proclaimed in the headline, fairly sure of myself with spring training baseball underway. For those who need a refresher, despite New York’s plethora of promising pitching, I concluded that the Mets simply did not have enough elsewhere on their roster to compete in a competitive National League East that saw both the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins improve on paper over the offseason.
I handed the Nats the division while preaching the Fish were a more likely Wild Card hopeful. Now, nearly 162-games later, the Marlins have one of the worst records in baseball, the Nationals, eliminated, appear better-suited for an MMA bout and the Mets – the Amazin’ Mets – are heading to the playoffs for the first time in nine years with an NL East title secured and champagne poured.
Like many others, I was wrong about the team from Queens… sort of.
Yes, the team has well-exceeded my expectations, but those expectations were based on the premise that the Mets did not have enough pieces to complete the postseason puzzle. The team’s lineup had countless questions heading into the season, seemingly more than the other two teams I played up. For the majority of the first half, the Mets proved exactly what I had written: Without a formidable lineup, the pitching could only take them so far.
Then things changed.
The notoriously thrifty Wilpon family, as if some midsummer spell had been cast upon them, finally came to the realization that you have to give some to get some. In doing so, the owners gave general manager Sandy Alderson the freedom he needed to upgrade around the trade deadline.
Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe
were important depth additions that came following a three-week period where the Mets were literally starting a Triple-A lineup day in and day out. Tyler Clippard was a significant pickup as well and has been instrumental to a bullpen that has had its fair share of problems (I’m mostly talking to you, Jenrry Mejia).
Of course, the headliner was Yoenis Cespedes. If you have not already, check out his Baseball Reference page and take a look at what he has done since coming over from the Detroit Tigers. To put it simply, he’s been one of the best midseason trade acquisitions of all time for the Mets.
New York was able to improve from within as well, calling up the likes of Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto and Steven Matz perhaps a little sooner than it would have liked in the name of winning. For the first time in a long time, the organization’s higher-ups put the product on the field ahead of the profit in their pockets.
A roster that now has the pieces to be one of the scariest threats in Major League Baseball’s playoffs. With Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and the Los Angeles Dodgers lined up for the National League Division Series, it will not be an easy ride, but a Mets rotation of Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Syndergaard and whoever else Terry Collins chooses to go with is not too shabby either – he has a few options.
Luckily for the fans in Flushing, the team now has the lineup to back those hurlers up.
Gary Phillips is a journalism major from Ramsey, N.J. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu or on Twitter @GPhillips2727.