With the Wilpons’ financial mess emerging as the dominant Mets-related story throughout the entire offseason, it’s easy to forget that the actual team will start playing regular season games in 2 weeks. While Team Wilpon scored a win in court, will the Mets themselves be worth watching after they didn’t add any big names following a 77-85 season? Here are a few reasons to tune in…
1) Johan Santana: Their most intriguing storyline this spring. Yesterday, during what has already been a strong spring, he fired 6 innings of 1-run ball against the Cardinals. How far back can he come after not pitching in the bigs for over a year? It’s safe to say that the Johan who once dominated the AL and threw in the mid-90’s is long gone. He’ll have to get by on smarts and experience, like Pedro Martinez did in the latter stages of his career. I think he’ll be fine (assuming he can stay on the field) — he was losing his fastball even before this major injury, so he has already begun a transition into “crafty lefty” mode.
2) Double D’s: Davis and Duda, their homegrown slugging lefties. It’s just fun to watch them hit. With them only being 24 and 26 years old respectively, the Mets are hoping they can be power fixtures in the middle of their lineup for years to come.
3) The Competition: The Mets play in the loaded NL East, which means they will be playing lots of games against quality competition. Each team in the division boasts some premier talent. The Phillies and Braves are perennial playoff contenders, and even the Nationals and Marlins feature some ridiculous young talent — Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and Giancarlo Stanton are all 23 or younger.
Because of reason #3, it’s going to be tough for Terry’s gang to improve on last year’s 4th place finish. However, if Jason Bay’s late season surge was no fluke, and an improved bullpen can lock down more games…well, hope always springs eternal in March.