The Incoming Emotional Roller Coaster: The 2017 Mets

The Mets have a knack for winning and losing in the most painful and glorious ways. They don’t just win or just lose. There has to be an extra element to it. They either are going to make you cry your eyes out in misery or make you cry “tears of joy.” Look no further than the years of 1969, 1986, and 2015 for the good. Look no further than 2000, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2015 for the bad. And yes, unfortunately 2015 applied to both. 2017 is poised to become apart of one of these lists.

If It All Falls Apart

This season could fall apart before our eyes in the most painful ways imaginable. Let’s start with the guy most likely to have this happen to him. David Wright. He is currently battling a should impingement, which could also be related to his spinal stenosis (back) and neck surgery,  that is expected to keep him out until the start of May at the very least. He will likely return at some point. However, he could easily wind back up on the disabled list or even worse, we might watch him play at a diminished form and have to make a painful decision to not play him. Either one of those scenarios would result in absolute sorrow for everyone involved.

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David Wright hurting his hamstring sliding into second base in 2015. Picture taken from the Big Lead.

Next up, Matt Harvey. Harvey has already had to suffer from adversity in the past after receiving Tommy John Surgery and he has had to accept that fate again after experiencing numbness in his fingertips and requiring surgery to fix the condition that developed from that, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. So far, not so good. His velocity has failed to return and he has struggled during Spring Training so far as a result. Anyone who thought this was going to be easy to recover from was sadly mistaken. There is not much of a history of success for people being able to recover from this surgery. His velocity might very well not return and if it doesn’t we might not be happy with the results and we will watch the first of the big three pitchers collapse and never regain form. The Dark Night of Gotham is meant to rise and fall, but then rise again. However, in Harvey’s case, we might not see him rise up again and reclaim his title.

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Matt Harvey looking for answers after surrendering nine runs in 2 2/3 innings pitched against the division rival Nationals in 2016. Picture taken from Grantland. 

There is also more room for under performance. While he is not returning from an injury, Travis d’Arnaud is in a make-or-break year. So far this spring, things have gone well for him as he is hitting .323. However, his defense is still in question and that could be what does him in. While I would like to believe he is still going to be a part of this team long-term, he needs to prove that he deserves to be. He also has a long list of injury issues and he is very likely going to encounter at least some sort injury before the season comes to a close. If everything goes wrong, we will be trying to trade for a new catcher at the deadline.

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Travis d’Arnaud suffers a leg injury after a collision at home plate in 2015. Picture taken from Sports Illustrated. 

Another player coming off a bad season is Michael Conforto. Yes, the prized jewel of the hitting prospects who came up after half a season in the minors. He hit a meager .220 last season and was eventually supplanted in right field by current Met Jay Bruce. As a result, Conforto is now destined to start the year on the bench and possibly spend time in Las Vegas. This guy still has a ton of potential and it would be terrible if Jay Bruce took this guy’s spot for the entire year with his very familiar style of hitting that is just too similar to that of the rest of the Mets lineup. They need someone like Conforto on this team. If we do not see him this year, this could not only hurt the team as a whole, but stunt his development. Or worse, they finally give him a shot, trade away Bruce, and then find out that they were a little too late and Conforto is unable to regain his 2015 form.

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Michael Conforto after striking out while in the midst of a slump in 2016. Picture taken from the New York Daily News.

Zack Wheeler is also a name to keep an eye on this year. After improbably earning a spot in the rotation, all eyes will be on him for the first time in two years. It is hard to expect him to be masterful, but he still needs to pitch well. If he doesn’t, well, this might be the end of the line for him. He is in a make or break year for his career. He took longer than he was supposed to and if he fails to regain form, he will become nothing more than an insurance policy in the Mets eyes.

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Zack Wheeler after struggling during an outing. Picture taken from Newsday. 

Lastly, we will talk about the guy who lost his spot to Wheeler. Steven Matz. He has been placed on the disabled list and will not be throwing again for three weeks, which likely means he won’t return until at least May. So that is already a good portion of the season he will miss. Go figure. He is by and far the likeliest to spend a lot of time on the Disabled List this season. While he is good when healthy, he never is. This will likely not be the only time he is on that list over the course of the season.

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Steven Matz in his final game of the 2016 season in which it would be revealed after that he would need surgery to remove a bone spur. Picture taken from SNY. 

If It Goes Well

This could be a very special season we could end up watching our team win the World Series if things end up perfectly. If this happens I can promise it won’t be without any range emotions flowing through our brains. Let’s start again with the obvious. David Wright. We can possibly get to see our franchise player go out on the field an perform again. Not only could we see him performing again, but we could see him take the field with his old buddy Jose Reyes for the first time since 2011. This would be one of the most emotional moments to experience as a Mets fan. Getting to watch the two people that we once decided to build the organization around, getting to experience the new era of greatness built mostly on strong pitching. Just imagine the chills of watching Wright drive in Reyes for the first time since 2011.

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Jose Reyes and David Wright sharing smiles for their last season for another half a decade during a game in July of 2011. Picture taken from CBS New York.

The next thing we could see is the passing of the torch. The once young and jovial Jose Reyes might be passing it on to his new best buddy, top prospect Amed Rosario. This guy is a big part of the future of the New York Mets. However, the future of the New York Mets might be now with him. Rosario likely could step in by the middle of the season to help this team, especially if David Wright is unable to play on a regular basis. If that happens, we might see Rosario playing third base by mid-season or the Mets shifting Cabrera to third so Rosario can play the position Reyes used to occupy. Reyes has been on the record saying how good he thinks Rosario could be and would love nothing more than to play with Rosario and keep him under his wing this season. Rosario is the new Jose Reyes. Who better to be a part of passing it on to the him than the guy he essentially is destined to become.

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Jose Reyes and Amed Rosario together while Reyes was working his way up to the big leagues after being resigned by the Mets during the summer this past year. Picture taken from MLB.com.

Next, maybe the Dark Knight does rise again. I mean the story does say that the Dark Knight rises to fall to rise again from the ashes of despair. Why not, Harvey? Yeah, maybe his velocity has been a concern all spring (it has progressed somewhat over the last two starts), but the guy pitches with pure passion. He’s a bulldog on the mound. I know people always rag on him as the one of the starters that they do not like and think of him as a diva, but the fact is he is still OUR DIVA. This is the same guy that you and I fell in love with in 2013 when he was in competition for a Cy Young Award before going down with a torn elbow ligament. He was the start of all the promise on this team. We were in despair as Mets fans before seeing the potential he had on the big stage. This guy pitches with more guts than I have seen before as a Mets fan. He might be able to regain it. If he does it will be one of the beautiful things we could imagine. We will see the same passion he showed in Game 5 of the World Series again, and I know that I, at least, want to see that even just one more time.

Furthermore on the pitching front, it is time to go back to Zack Wheeler. It is time to see the real Zack Wheeler stand up, and I personally cannot wait to see it. This is the guy that personally called Sandy Alderson at the 2015 trade deadline to tell him that he did not want to be traded two nights after being a part of a proposed deal for Carlos Gomez. He did not care. He told Sandy that he wanted to be apart of this special. Well, if you really want to be apart of this, then we should all really want this guy to be a part of this team’s success. I think he could put himself back on the map this season and make this rotation even more special than it already could be.

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Zack Wheeler when he was still wheeling and dealing (pun intended) in 2014. Picture taken from MLB.com

To continue the pitching theme, we could see the rotation actually all be together for the first time ever. We could finally get to see Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler all be healthy and pitching together for the first time. This was Sandy Alderson’s vision when he built his team the way he did. On top of that, he has Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo to help shoulder the load for these guys who all will have to be monitored over the course of the season. It might be a big if, but if they can somehow stay healthy this rotation could be scary good and special to watch this season. Those five, if healthy, are a group of potential aces pitching every night. There is no game that would not be winnable. Any of those guys has the ability to out-pitch the opponent each night no matter who they throw up there outside of maybe Clayton Kershaw. Anyways, the vision might be there to finally be seen. Other teams better hope it does not happen.

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The Mets staff, if they are all healthy at some point this season. Picture taken from the Sportsbook Review. 

Lastly, we are dealing with the potential retirement of Terry Collins. I know many have mixed feelings about this. Many wish Collins was fired before 2015 when they made the World Series. Many fans wish he would be fired today. However, it is difficult to manage in New York, yet alone coming in with a bad reputation as being a bad clubhouse manager. Not only has he learned to manage in the “Big Apple,” but he also manages the clubhouse like the nobody I have seen before. He inspires his players in a way that they all want to win with and for him on a daily basis. He went from being hated by his players on other teams, to being the reason for inspiration through the tough battles the Mets have fought over the last six years with him. Not only has he done a tremendous job, but he could easily win a Manager of the Year Award this season, and he deserves it. Not many could take last years’s team to the playoffs with the amount of injuries and misfortunes the team had as a whole. Without Terry Collins, I don’t know where this organization would be.

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Terry Collins during a press conference in the World Series in 2015. Picture taken from Sporting News. 

What to Actually Expect

The fact is it is not going to go one way or the other with this. We are going to see a little bit of both worlds with this team. We will see this team struggle in the most painful ways at times. We will feel like giving up on them. Don’t. They will make us believe again. They find a way to win. This group has as much, if not more motivation to win a championship than it did in 2015. This is a special group. This year could be a year of euphoria for all of us. I promise you this team will not do it in the simple way. They will make you cry (in both good and bad ways), they will make you sweat, but, most importantly, they will make us all realize why we do this. They will make us all remember why we put ourselves through the torture of being a Mets fan. We live with some of the most painful memories. However, we have some of the greatest as well. Game 6 of the World Series in 1986, Wilmer Flores home run, and Mike Piazza’s home run just to name a few. Remember that this season when you are feeling down about this team. Have faith. Stay dedicated. This season could be extremely special in a lot of ways, but the only goal I think as fans that we should try to achieve: embrace this team one way or the other. Join this team on the World Series run they are about to embark on. We have suffered enough (30 years too long). Lets go Mets!

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The Mets players lined up during the National Anthem in the 2015 World Series. Picture taken from AccessWDUN. 

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