There have been many great musings to mark the end of the 2014 season. If you haven’t already gone to those links, do it now. Don’t even read the rest of this … go visit the links.
I thought about what to write after the Mets ended the season with an 8-3 victory over Houston. I realized that everything I wanted to write would expose me as being as cranky as Keith Hernandez. For example: It’s a gift from the heavens that Lucas Duda hit 30 home runs in the same season that the passed over Jose Abreu. Abreu’s production still surpasses Duda by a significant margin. But if the Mets don’t trade Ike Davis, or if Duda never figures it out as he did, then the Wilpons and their finances get a lot more scrutiny than they are right now. They should thank Duda for making sure that doesn’t happen. Hell, I thank him. I sure as hell didn’t think he could do it. He’s still no Jose Abreu, but he also doesn’t cost as much.
And while that’s a good thing, that’s also a problem. Remember the quote at the beginning of the season about “we’re not going to go after Jose Abreu because we have a “glut of first basemen”? Again, they got lucky with Duda. But does that give them empowerment to take the same approach with the outfield? Hey, we have a glut of left fielders. Kirk Nieuwenhuis? Matt den Dekker? Some guys in the minor leagues that may or may not be ready? Nimmo? Conforto? Combine that with the quotes from Sandy about how “improvement doesn’t necessarily mean spending”? Terry Collins saying “we’re close”?
I worry every year, but I worry a little bit more going into this off-season. Because everybody is saying that there are expectations for 2015. Great. There should be. Between Duda, a young bullpen that isn’t going to have to start next season watching Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth set fire to winnable games, and the emergence of Jacob deGrom … then combine all of that with the return of Matt Harvey and perhaps the Johnny Rocco type entrance of Noah Syndergaard … there should be expectations. But I think that too many people think that everything I listed above is all the Mets need. It isn’t. They need help beyond “hope for a healthy year from David Wright and a bounce back season from Curtis Granderson”. That has been the Mets usual tact for the last few years, and that’s when you want to rap their noses with a rolled up newspaper and say “NO! NO! NO!”
If the Mets want to change my mind about how I think they’re going to handle the off-season, then they need to go out and sign Yasmani Tomas to that $100 million contract. If they do that, I’m fine with whatever action or inaction they take from here on in. A shortstop would be great but unless they trade Daniel Murphy for one, there isn’t one I’m excited about (including J.J. Hardy, whose numbers aren’t going to translate from Oriole Park to Citi Field.) So I’m fine with staying in house for a shortstop, whether it be Flores or Reynolds, as long as they get Tomas, a guy on the right side of 30 who may have transcendent power. Then, you have a legitimate fearsome middle of the order, and you can save your prospects for somebody else if you need them. That said, this regime has given no indication through their history that they’re going to make a big splash like that. (Along with the fact that this is the Mets … so even if they did sign him you know he’d be a Jason Bay sized bust because that’s what seems to happen to the Mets every … single … time.) So barring that, this team has to make trades, big and small, to provide the necessary support to the very incremental strides they made in 2014. But again, this regime hasn’t given an indication that they’re comfortable doing that either.
So … I worry.
But there’s plenty of time to worry. A whole offseason. Now is the time to reflect on the past season and wonder where we are and where we’re going as fans. For me, I think of how it seemed like just yesterday that this journey started with two preseason games in Montreal where there was snow on the ground. Then an Opening Day where Andrew Brown hit a home run of Stephen Strasburg and the Mets lost Bobby Parnell for the season. It seems like forever ago … and yet forever happens with the snap of a finger. That’s how these seasons usually move.
What I think disappoints me about the end of this season, more than most bad to mediocre seasons, is the blogs we’re losing. Good blogs with fun points of view that don’t take themselves so seriously, and yet the Mets fandom drips from their pores. And yet through no small fault of the people that run this team, the frustration of being a Mets fan is driving people away from caring. It’s one thing to lose the casual fans, but when the diehards stop caring, that’s a problem. The bigger problem is that the people who run the Mets don’t think of it as a problem. Their attendance actually went up from ’13 to ’14, and the general thought process is that the Mets are on the verge of something. “They’re close”, according to Terry Collins. So why spend any money? With a glut of left fielders?
I worry. And they’ll be no Mets games to distract myself from worrying.
But no time for worrying now. Because I’m not going to let the Mets absence prevent myself from enjoying the playoffs as much as I can. Two wild card games that are toss-ups, no built in narratives to annoy the hell out of us, no Yankees (I’m waiting for the first “the playoffs just aren’t the same without the Yankees” column) … October is going to be fun. I’m going to enjoy it. There’ll be plenty of time to worry.