We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Another baseball season has come to an end (although it ended a very long time ago from the Mets’ point of view), and we find ourselves looking forward to 2020 and attempting to be more optimistic about the future than we are about the present. With the Mets, that isn’t always easy. This year felt like a step backward for the team, and you’ll find very few Amizins fans who feel that third-placed finish was in any way acceptable. Improvements have to be made. If we can take solace from anywhere, though, it’s that improvements actually do seem to be happening.
The most obvious place there’s been a change – and hopefully a change for the better – is in the manager’s seat. Mickey Callaway has been put out of his misery, and Carlos Beltran is in. If you follow Marcus Stroman’s Twitter account, you’ll have seen that the pitcher is already enamored with his new boss after just a few short telephone conversations. That’s a promising start. What’s less promising is that Beltran has barely been in his new chair for five minutes, and he’s already implicated in a sign stealing scandal that dates back to his time with the Astros. It’s to be hoped that the issue can be cleared up and dealt with sooner rather than later. The very last thing the Mets need right now is an inexperienced manager dealing with off-field distractions.
Aside from the new manager – who we hope has a long and successful tenure in charge – we’ve found a few more reasons to be cheerful about our 2020 prospects!
Edwin Diaz Can Only Get Better
Somewhere within Edwin Diaz is a great player, and we still have a chance of seeing him recover his form. He was outstanding in 2018 but struggled last year for reasons that are difficult to identify. With a break to clear his head and refocus, 2020’s Diaz could be a bigger asset to the Mets than 2019’s Diaz was. Right now, the trade deal that brought him to us looks like it was a disaster. That’s short-termism. We, and Diaz, may still get the last laugh when all is said and done. Encouragingly, Beltran has already identified helping Diaz find his swagger as a major priority, and has said that he expects the reliever to have a great year. If you’re a Diaz doubter, the only thing we can tell you is this:- even when everything else went wrong for him this year, his strikeout rate and fastball velocity remained consistent with the very best in the sport. If he can keep those foundations and fine-tune the rest of his game, he could still be a standout performer.
Centerfield Will Get A Boost
It pains us a little to say this, but Dominic Smith’s time at the Mets is probably coming to an end. You know it, we know it, and we think he probably knows it as well. Smith is a popular guy in the locker room, and a well-loved player among the fans, but sometimes his likable nature has masked the fact that he’s just not quite good enough to give is what we need in the middle of the outfield. There are players out there who could do that, though, and Jackie Bradley Jr is one of them. He’s almost certain to be interested, and he’s almost certainly available if the price is right. The Mets may be frugal when it comes to spending cash, but we think Bradley could be obtained without breaking the bank. Failing that, Starling Marte would be a great acquisition – and there are a lot of people ‘in the know’ who think that a deal for Marte is already on the table.
Cespedes Is Back
Yes, we mean this as a positive. No, that wasn’t a typo. Yoenis Cespedes is fit to play baseball again, and we think that’s a good thing. There comes a time in professional sport where you have to take a gamble. Bringing Cespedes back into the fold and playing him is unquestionably a gamble, but it’s one that could pay off. Think of Cespedes like an online slots game that we’ve already put money into. One of the reasons that players continue to play games on online slots websites like DoveCasino.com for longer than they should is that they’re determined to get something out of them. The statistics say that if you keep paying in, you’ll eventually win something in return. That’s how we should look at Cespedes at this point. We’ve paid for him. We still have him under contract. He may be 34 now, and he may have missed the past 18 months, but theoretically, he’s still the same guy who made the All-Star team as recently as 2016. A fit, healthy, motivated Cespedes still has something to offer, and he might just surprise us.
One More Lefty Will Fill The Bullpen
You’re probably thinking that the bullpen is the last place that the Mets need to spend money on strengthening. You might be right, but hear us out anyway. We think that the current roster is just one lefty away from being able to compete for major honors. Justin Wilson, as great as he can be when he’s on his game, can’t be expected to do all the work on his own. More to the point, if Wilson gets hurt, we’re in real trouble. We’ve heard worse ideas than seeing of Collin McHugh could be persuaded to come back to the Mets. He’s not exactly tearing up trees since the Astros demoted him to the bullpen, and if he’s going to be in the bullpen, he may as well come back to the Mets to do rather than hanging around in Houston. If not McHugh, Jake Diekman is also a lefty, and he’s a free agent if the Mets move quickly enough.
Even with all of the above, we still think Beltran is the most important acquisition the Mets have made. There was no sign that anything was going to improve under Callaway, and Beltran is a man who can instantly command respect from players (so long as he has no case to answer in relation to sign stealing). If Beltran can give focus and motivation to this squad of players, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t see great things from them.