We made it Met fans! The P.W. Era (Post Wilpon) begins tonight on ESPN (I hate the MLB for taking Gary, Keith and Ron away from us on Opening Day). You would be hard-pressed to find a Met fan that isn’t giddy as hell for the start of this 2021 season. I haven’t been this pumped since 2016 coming off the World Series appearance, and this is a better team.
It hasn’t always been rainbows and sunshine since Cohen took over. The Mets had their typical offseason, filled with controversy. First, the Mickey Callaway stuff (hired without due diligence checking on previous sexual harassment accusations) surfaced even though he’s been gone for two years. Then, there was the whole Robinhood/Reddit situation where Uncle Stevie had to bail out his hedge fund buddy and got on Twitter to defend himself (never a good idea). Finally, after trading for stud Shortstop, Francisco Lindor, Cohen and Sandy Alderson had much trouble getting the new face of the franchise locked up before Lindor’s self-imposed Opening Day Deadline.
The latest issue caused much angst and hand-wringing amongst Met fans. With a great offer of 10 years, $325 Million on the table (literally on the table, as Cohen and Lindor had dinner while discussing the deal), Lindor and his camp said it wasn’t enough. Cohen even took deferred payments off the table to sweeten the deal, but still, the other side never budged from their 12-year, $385 mill asking price. Anger grew from all sides as it started to look like the deal wasn’t going to be done. Even your boy Mr. Glass-Half-Full started to have doubts.
Then, in the 11th (and a half) hour, cooler heads prevailed. Cohen went up and Lindor’s camp came down. Boom. Deal was settled and Lindor is the new face of the franchise for the next 10 years at $341 million ($1 million more than Tatis, the best young Shortstop in the game; not a coincidence). Cohen wasn’t going to let the whole offseason go without making a statement signing. It capped off a VERY solid offseason that had ups and downs, but solidified the team overall. After the Lindor signing, I give it a strong A-.
As for the roster itself, well Met fans, we are cooking with gas. There is a perfect blend of young talent, veteran leadership, and depth from top to bottom. There is a very good argument to be made about this being the most complete Metropolitan team of our time.
The Mets are DEEP here. It all starts with the All-World, two-time Cy Young-winning Ace, Jacob deGrom. I don’t have to go into too much detail about the best pitcher in the game, because y’all already know the deal!
To back up Jake, Cohen brought back Marcus Stroman (great move) and only picked up Carlos Carrasco as a throw-in in the Lindor trade. For those that don’t know, “Cookie” Carrasco has only been one of the better pitchers in the game since 2015, all while beating Leukemia in the process. Tough guy, huh? He’s got a hammy issue, but should he all set come May.
Syndergaard is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and should slot in QUITE nicely as a #2 starter come June. Big season for the big man, who will be looking to put a healthy and solid year together so he can get paid big bucks. The rest of the staff is filled out by the young and promising lefty, David Peterson, and the newly acquired Taijuan Walker. Walker has always had the talent but has yet to put it all together. He will end up being one of the best 5th starters in the league if/when everyone is healthy.
Rounding out the staff with a guy like Lucchessi, who will hold down the fort until Carrasco and Syndergaard are ready, and some decent young pitching prospects in the minors, and you have a complete staff that can withstand injuries.
There is talent here for the pen to be successful. What that talent actually does, is another matter altogether. Edwin Diaz is the ever-present Wild Card. If he pitches like he has every year outside of 2019 (which now looks like the outlier), the pen will be in good shape. He’s looked great in Spring Training, so let’s hope that carries over. Trevor May was added to the pen and should provide a stable arm as a setup man, at least until Seth Lugo returns.
Speaking of Lugo, he had elbow surgery in February, but if all goes well, he should be back in May (when do things ever go well for the Mets injury-wise?). Lugo is the X-Factor that takes the pen from good to VERY good if he is back at 100%. Familia and Betances are going to scare the shit out of us every time out. Loup is the LOOGY (lefty specialist) and the Mets MIGHT have something in Miguel Castro (no relation to Fidel, based on no research), who throws straight gas.
This unit could use another stellar arm if Betances and Familia shit the bed again this year (likely). Look for a deadline trade. Either that or they need a guy like Jacob Barnes to come out of nowhere and make a big difference (not likely).
With Lindor signed up, a huge cog to this offense has been added now and for the next decade. As long as he gets back to what he did in 2015-2019, the offense should reach the next level. We’re talking MVP-level stuff and one of the best Shortstops in the MLB.
It would be a major upset if this unit did not finish in the Top 3 in the NL and one of the top lineups in the league. There is depth from top to bottom and guys that can do all sorts of different things at the plate. The everyday lineup should look a little something like this.
That’s a lineup that doesn’t have any holes at the moment. It’s a beautiful thing. Should there have been a DH in the NL so that Smith could play 1B and Alonso could be the DH….YES. The MLB doesn’t like fun though. So, I guess this is the cards we are dealt.
It’s a big year for McNeil, Nimmo, Alonso and Dominic Smith for varying reasons. All are young and all have shown good to great things, but there have been some inconsistencies to each one’s careers thus far. Is Alonso the absolute future at 1B or is Dom? Was the down years from McNeil and Alonso last year a blip in a weird season? What about Dom’s recent explosion at the plate? Is that for real and if so, does that, plus the better defense that he provides over Alonso, make him the 1B of the future? I know, I KNOW. Sacrilege to even say, because we all love Pete. Let’s just pray the MLB wises up so that we can keep both with the DH in the NL.
Bench: Kevin Pillar, Luis Guillorme, Jonathan Villar, and Albert Almora Jr.. Nice stable of guys with speed and veteran presence that should make the bench very viable.
All told, all three units should be above-average or better. It is up to Luis Rojas, Pitching Coach Jeremy Hefner, and Hitting Coach Chili Davis to keep this team going in the right direction. I like what I saw from Rojas last year, but he now has been giving a winning hand to play. Expectations are high. Is Rojas the guy to take the Mets to the next level? We will have our answer this year.
I’m all in for 2021. This team is built to contend for a World Series. Pieces will no doubt be added throughout the year to solidify the roster. The meat and potatoes are here though. Now….
Mr. Glass-Half-Full’s Take:
The Over/Under for wins is set at 90.5. I am taking the OVAH. The team has length to the lineup and depth just about everywhere. That is the key to long term success over the course of a season. No more spot starts from borderline AAAA pitchers. Provided the team is healthy, I see no reason why this team should not end up around 93+ wins.
Let this be the beginning of some long term success that Mets fans have not seen in……ever. The Cohen Era has begun!
UPDATE: Both Thursday and Friday night’s games are now postponed because the Washington Nationals ruined everything and have COVID cases. So, now everything is on hold until at least Saturday.