Another guest post coming your way via Dave Thomas..Enjoy.
I like to think of myself as a guy that oftentimes if not always sees the glass as being half full as opposed to half empty. That being said, this season could be a long one to be a New York Mets fan.
When I run into people that say they are Mets fans, I quickly find a unique bond with them.
Yes, we Mets fans have always played second fiddle to the Yankees in the Big Apple; that is the equivalent of being a Los Angeles Clippers fan in L.A. The Clips could remarkably run off three or four NBA titles over the next decade and they would still be the poor stepchild to the 16-time champion Lakers.
My days with the Mets date back to my childhood and trips to Shea Stadium in the 1970s. While the Mets had some good teams the early part of that decade (lost the 1973 World Series to Oakland in seven games), they also hit rock bottom for a period of time. Despite those ups and downs, I’m here some 40 years later still professing my love for the orange and blue.
That then brings us to the 2012 season, a season with which I already shudder to think of how we could challenge 100 losses by the time the end of September rolls around. If last year’s fourth-place finish at 77-85 was disconcerting, 2012 could be even worse. Yes, fellow Mets fans, this year could get ugly mighty quickly.
While I’m hoping fellow writer Joe Cohen is right and I’m wrong, here are five reasons I’m a tad pessimistic about the upcoming season:
- The off-season was by all standards a mess – Between the financial matters to the tune of $162 million with the Wilpon family, along with letting Jose Reyes skip away to Miami, this was not an off-season to be giddy over. The financial mess and Reyes are indeed intertwined, as I have no doubt in my mind that more of an effort would have been made to re-sign the All-Star shortstop had the Madoff money scam not been on the plate. While injuries did slow him at times in his Mets career, Reyes was always a great threat for opposing defenses. Now the Mets lose that threat at the top of their order, while also having to contend with Reyes for multiple games as a member of the Marlins. Lastly, I see a team with a lot of unproven or under achieving talent at key positions. Even though there is much to be excited about when it comes to having young talent with which to work with, that can also prove daunting at the same time. I know we were spoiled, but I’m still not happy with the catching position ever since Mike Piazza left. Jason Bay has for lack of a better term been a bust so far. Although the Mets went out and added bullpen arms in the off-season, is there truly a gem in that pen that can be counted on for a good 30 or more saves this season?;
- Questions surrounding the health of All-Star David Wright – To show you how long I have been a Mets fan, I remember the days back in the ‘70s when the late Jim Beauchamp wore number 5. Okay, besides dating myself, I have been a Wright supporter from day one, but I’m beginning to see a scenario where he does not finish his career one day in a Mets uniform. Having missed 58 games to a back injury last season, Wright is hobbled again entering this year with an abdominal tear, something that is certain to impact both his hitting and defensive skills. While the Mets management and training staff have not indicated that it is a season-threatening injury by any means, fans have to certainly be holding their collective breaths. Even though Wright has now begun to play spring training ball, bringing a healthy Wright north with the team in the next week to prepare for the season opener is certainly not a given;
- Questions on Johan Santana’s health too – Along with concerns over Wright, Mets faithful also have to wonder if Santana is the pitcher he was before left arm and shoulder problems shut him down late in 2010 and all of last season. While Santana’s left shoulder surgery was deemed to be a success, will the former two-time A.L. Cy Young winner make it through a 200-innings pitched season or will he find himself on the shelf once again? Mets fans obviously hope it is the former, because a healthy Santana can set the table for the likes of Dillon Gee, Mike Pelfrey and my favorite, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Having Santana go out there every four or five days and knowing you have a very good shot at getting the ‘W’ is critical this season, especially with the loss of Reyes and Wright’s health in question;
- The dreaded National League East – While some will argue that there are other divisions as competitive if not more, there is little doubt that the N.L. East can easily be argued to be the toughest division in baseball. Not only are the Phillies and Braves a pair of perennial threats to go far each season, but the Marlins look on paper like an improved team in 2012, as do the Nats. Yes, titles are not won on paper, but both the Marlins and Nats have made off-season moves to get better. Ironically, the Phillies may come back to the pack if Ryan Howard and Chase Utley continue to be bitten by the injury bug. While clearly possessing the best pitching staff in the game, pitching alone will not carry the Phillies to their sixth straight division crown. One other item of note regarding rivals, the Mets go on an 11-game western swing from July 26 to Aug. 5 (D’backs, Giants, and Padres). If the Mets are anywhere sniffing the division lead come July 26, this stretch will be crucial for them to go .500 at worst ;
- Do we really have a true home field advantage? – Fellow Mets fans may take issue with me on this one, but I really do miss Shea Stadium. Although the record didn’t always bear it out, Shea was a home field advantage for the boys in orange and blue. Let’s face it, a lot of N.L. foes did not like having to come in there and deal with the swirling winds at times, the planes, etc. Citi Field may have all the cute amenities and nice luxury suites, but I still don’t see the Mets as having a definitive advantage there. Yes, the team did alter the fences (bringing them in) during the off-season, so we’ll have to wait and see if that perks up Mets bats this season. Then again, it could also have a negative impact on the hometown pitchers when opposing power hitters get a look at those new dimensions.
With any luck at all, I’m dead wrong on this season and the Mets are either competing for the division crown or a wild card spot.
Trust me – I want this team to do well – there is nothing worse than having grown up in Philadelphia and having to listen to all those chirping Phillies fans for the last half dozen years online reminding me of my roots.
Dave Thomas, who covers among other topics how to start a small business, writes extensively for SanDiego-based Business.com, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.