The way I see it, if Johan wins a Cy Young and Bay, Lucas Duda, David Wright and Ike Davis all hit 30 home runs each, I think the Mets could win 85 games or so and challenge for the second Wild Card, all of which I think is a long shot. Of course, I hope it happens and, because it’s my nature to give the benefit of the doubt until I see otherwise, I’ll imagine it can happen… because that would be downright awesome. But, more realistically, I’m simply hoping for progress. That’s all. In November, when writing this blog later this year, all I hope is that we – as fans – are excited and feeling good about the direction the franchise is headed. ... The point is, given how things have gone the last five years, though I’d love a World Series victory, I’ll gladly settle for progress and a better unity among fans.The Mets won 74 games, one short of 75. It's what was probably expected at the start of the season, but - after a strong first half, expectations were raised. So, today, 74 feels like a massive let down as opposed to being par for the course. I think most reasonable people knew the first-half, two-out hit parade was unsustainable, and to get half your wins from just two starting pitchers (one 37 and the other coming off shoulder surgery) was never a recipe for long-term succes. Nevertheless, at 46-40 and tied for the last Wild Card spot, perception became reality and - even though I knew a bucket of cold water might get dumped on us in the second half - I still let myself hope and believe again in miracles... which is why today, I feel disappointed in just 74 wins.
That said, though Lucas Duda didn't answer questions about his potential, for the most part, I think we learned some things about where this train is headed...
We now know Matt Harvey can pitch in the big leagues and he can be counted on to be a mid- to front-of-the rotation guy. We know (and the rest of league knows) Zack Wheeler is worthy of his top prospect status, and he can be seriously considered in future planning. We know Ruben Tejada is certainly a big-league middle infielder and he will keep working hard to be better. We know Robert Carson, Josh Edgin and Jeurys Familia give strong, inexpensive, internal, promising options for the bullpen. We learned David Wright can hit in Citi Field and should be signed to a contract extension. And, lastly, we confirmed that RA Dickey is not a gimmick, but the real deal with plenty of mileage left on his 37-year-old arm.
The point is, while there were clearly some side steps and new holes created (such as in the outfield and behind the plate), and though I'm not sure I'd say I'm 'excited,' I do think there is progress here in simply knowing what isn’t working and what needs to be done, all while getting one year closer to the end of Jason Bay's and Johan Santana's contracts. And, I think that’s what this season was always going to be about.
As I’ve said before, 2010 and 2011 were about cutting the overpaid, veteran fat and creating roster space for young, less expensive, internal options (like Duda, Harvey, Mike Nickeas, Josh Edgin and others) to essentially audition in 2012. The thing is, the team won early and raised expectations this year, changing the conversation a bit, but I don’t think Sandy Alderson's goal for the roster (and long-term plan) ever changed. As such, though losing again prevailed, management should have a good idea at this point about who is legit and who isn’t.
In other words, as I said repeatedly on this blog already, Alderson has done his due diligence and demolition, he knows what's what, now it’s time to actually start building around the players he wants to keep.