2024 Season Preview: New York Mets

Ahead of the Mets’ delayed Opening Day game against the Brewers today, we’ve managed to fit another season preview in, this time from Michael Cresswell;

How 2023 went

75-87 (.463) – 4th in National League (NL) East.

Following the Mets in recent years is never a dull one. You could compare it to the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. All play their own parts in this show of watching nine players on a field do their best to win at least 90 games, to make the ensemble cast prelude to the Fall Classic, a dance in which we’ve made the one series in the last 7 years.

Okay, so let’s get this out of the way now. 2023 for us Amazin’ fans was, let’s be honest, one to forget in our history. The Mets hype-train, fuelled off a 100 win season the year prior, never seemed to leave the station. Consistency was not a mainstay, and losing Edwin Diaz before the season begun was a brutal blow for the bullpen, which struggled. It’s somewhat difficult to comprehend that we started the year with a rotation showcasing arguably two Hall of Fame candidates (Sean Reid-Foley, you have my
vote!) – only for the season to go drastically in the direction of a rebuild, with David Robertson, Max Scherzer, Mark Canha, Tommy Pham and Justin Verlander all shipped out for prospects.

However, in my mind – this needed to be done.

Whilst it’s difficult to have a clean slate when you’re boasting a payroll north of $300m, the front office took a direction to make smart, low risk moves. In optimistic hindsight, they’ve built value and looked to the long-term future in creating a team which will be the core of the Mets for years to come.

Notable comings and goings

On the pitching side, the free agency newcomers of Luis Severino and Sean Manaea, who may not be longstays at the club, are assets which could be potentially moved or extended for the bigger picture in Queens. The relief core signings of Jorge Lopez, Jake Diekman and Shintaro Fujinami provide evidence of this which, with upside, can only be a good thing. We also welcome back Adam Ottavino, who has performed solidly for us, as well as Edwin Diaz who, while not a signing, will certainly feel like one given his time out with injury.

The offense side has been bolstered by two players, who are complete contrasts of one another. Harrison Bader was picked up on a one-year deal, primarily for his elite defence to assist our woes of run prevention. The other player, J.D. Martinez, was signed purely to strengthen our offense. While age is not on his side, his attitude and overall dedication to the hitting craft will hopefully feed through to the rookies and prospects that have been shuttled between New York and Syracuse in recent times.

With this direction set up, it could be argued that this season is, in fact, a write off. However, the bat of Martinez, coupled with Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and others, provide a strong offense which have made the Mets a team that will put up runs.

If only optimism could get you everywhere.

Areas of weakness

The current holes of the Mets linger in their pitching. The rotation, while having a solid ace in Kodai Senga, varies on whether the newcomers can hold down their spots in quality starts. The hope is that Manaea, Jose Quintana or Severino have a successful season while the back end, currently filled with Adrian Houser, Tylor Megill or Jose Butto, begin to highlight their places as reliable starters.

On continued woes, it wouldn’t be a typical Mets conversation without discussing third base – a position that the Mets have filled out with David Wright, Howard Johnson and of course, Eric Campbell in the past. Brett Baty, now in his third season, is somewhat under scrutiny for whether he is the future of the Mets at this position. There is no denying that he did struggle both in the field and at the plate, so this year is a big one for him.

One to Watch

The Mets have a rising star in catcher Francisco Alvarez, who is still only 22-years-old. Alvarez has already showcased his ability behind and at the plate with his raw power and technique. Look to him, as well as Mr. Smile himself, for some spectacular plays and excitement, some of the many elements why I love this game.

How 2024 will unfold

So, from all this, where do the Mets finish?

This is a question that is very tough to answer. The NL East is stacked, let’s not get around that, and, while you don’t like to admit it, the Braves have built an amazing team.

However, I’ve found the Mets to be a team where you can expect the unexpected. Look at the lineup below – this team made the World Series! Nobody expected it, and I love each and every one of them because of it.

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With all that – ‘Ya Gotta Believe’.

Michael Cresswell is a player/coach for Herts Baseball Club, and can be found on Twitter @MrCresswell.

Featured image – Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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