After finally committing to spend money to acquire Major League talent during the 2013 offseason — with the signing of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon — Sandy Alderson saw his club improve in the National League East standings. For the first time since 2008, the Mets ended the season in a tie for second place, finishing with a record of 79-83.
Despite failing to end the 2014 season above .500, there are plenty of reasons to believe the Mets are an organization on the rise.
Here are some reasons why Alderson is approaching next season as one where the Mets are expected to contend…
There is a new crop of young and productive players ready to make an impact:
The Mets have a group of young players who have shown promise at the Major League level. Travis d’Arnaud batted .272 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs in his final 69 games last season after being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas. Jenrry Mejia became the youngest Mets pitcher to record 28 saves in a season. Jacob deGrom caught the league’s attention by winning National League Rookie of the Year honors. Jeurys Familia excelled in the setup role out of the bullpen, and Lucas Duda finally emerged as the middle-of-the-lineup bat the organization hoped for after deciding to trade Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates in April.
2015 marks the return of Matt Harvey:
Late during the 2013 season, the Mets suffered a huge blow when it was announced that Matt Harvey had a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. Harvey eventually had Tommy John surgery in September 2013.
Replacing Harvey’s production was near impossible to do, but Alderson addressed the void by signing Bartolo Colon last offseason. Though Colon did not come close to replicating his 2012 season with the Oakland Athletics, a season in which he went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA, Colon put together a serviceable season, posting a 4.09 ERA (3.57 FIP) while throwing slightly over 202 innings pitched in 2014.
Even without Harvey, the Mets’ starting rotation was as a strength, pitching to a 3.49 ERA over the course of the season. With the return of Harvey atop a rotation that consists of deGrom, Zack Wheeler, and perhaps Colon and Jon Niese, the potential to be one of the league’s best rotations is a possibility.
The signing of Michael Cuddyer was a sign that the Mets mean business:
On the day before the General Manager’s meetings, the Mets surprisingly grabbed headlines when they announced the signing of outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million dollar contract.
This was shocking to many, because the signing cost the Mets their a first-round pick in next year’s draft. Giving up a first round pick is something Alderson had previously been reluctant to do during his tenure with New York. Signing Cuddyer, who will be 36 years old in March is a bit risky, but the production Cuddyer could potentially bring to the Mets’ lineup certainly outweighs the cons associated with his contract.
Despite being limited to 49 games in 2014 due to various injuries, Cuddyer managed to bat .332/.376/.579. In 2013, Cuddyer won the National League batting title after hitting .331 in 130 games.
Adding Cuddyer to the lineup adds flexibility as well additional veteran leadership in the clubhouse. By the sound of it, Cuddyer may very well be just the first of multiple acquisitions this offseason.
It has been four years since Sandy Alderson took over as GM of the Mets. During that time, the fan base has been eagerly waiting for a competitive team. Improvements have been made on the field and the clock is certainly ticking for the front office to see results, but Alderson expects this team to be in the postseason next season.
When asked about Matt Harvey’s workload for next season, Alderson said “the key for us is figuring out a way to manage his season so that he’s available to us if or when we get to the postseason.” That’s a pretty bold statement, but the above factors point to the Mets becoming a highly competitive team sooner than many may think.