Jay Bruce is the only position player on Sandy Alderson's roster that I feel confident will play at least 140 games and do what he is expected to do. In the starting rotation, I'm only confident in Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. And, every bullpen is a crapshoot...
Thankfully, whether he acquires another infielder or not, Alderson's roster also has a dozen players with the potential to be amazing and help the Mets have a terrific season.
If healthy, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, Juan Lagares, Travis d'Arnaud, Jeurys Familia and others all possess the ability to win awards, make the All-Star team and be the most valuable player on their team.
"This could actually be a team that surprises some people if everyone stays healthy, which is key," a rival talent evaluator told NJ.com's Abbey Mastracco. "This team doesn't look far off from the second Wild Card spot."
The thing is, because of their lack of depth, if two or more players stumble, it could be another long season.
The bulk of talk by fans and media is focused on second base and third base and whether to sign Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier -- and put Asdrubal Cabrera at second -- or acquire a second baseman and put Cabrera at third. Personally, if the Mets aren't signing Moustakas, I still believe they should put their money on building up their greatest strength than squeaking a run or two more of production out of their infield.
"Their pitching is still their strength when healthy," the same talent evaluator told Mastracco.
Yet again, it comes down to health...
Nevertheless, Alderson recently told SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio that he does not intend to sign another starting pitcher because he believes in the current staff's ability to remain healthy and effective in 2018...
"We're confident we're going to see a significant difference and greater health this year," he explained. "The bottom line is, if they're not healthy, we're probably not going to be competitive. It's that critical for us."
My hunch is the Mets will eventually end up signing a notable starting pitcher before the start of spring training. Ideally, he inks a minor-league deal, though I would not be surprised if it comes with a guarantee.
Obviously, I prefer Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb, but I'll settle for Jason Vargas, Bartolo Colon, Jeremy Hellickson, or Ubaldo Jimenez, all of whom I believe are legit possibilities.
In addition to health, the key to Mickey Callaway's inaugural season may also come down to how the rest of the National League does against itself. The common line of thinking is that the Brewers took steps closer to being a lock for the Wild Card when they signed Lorenzo Cain and traded for Christian Yelich. However, at this point, I actually hope they also land Yu Darvish because I think it further balances their division.
The Mets may get 19 games against the Nationals, but they also get nearly 60 games against the Braves, Phillies, and Marlins. Meanwhile, the Brewers, Cardinals, and Cubs will likely spend all summer beating each other up in the NL Central, just as the Dodgers, Giants, Rockies, and D-backs take one step forward and one step back in their six-month brawl to win the NL West.
I realize it's smart to be careful what you wish for, but I'd much rather see the Mets take their chances by playing the Nationals, Braves, Phillies, and Marlins, especially if Familia, Cespedes, Conforto, Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler are healthy and firing on all cylinders.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...