Has Sandy Alderson done enough to turn Mets into contenders?


The Mets have begun playing Spring Training games, meaning one thing: baseball is back. A fresh, new season is upon us, and the New York Mets organization is very confident this is the year the club will return to the playoffs, something that hasn’t happened since 2006.

Last season marked the Mets’ best season under the Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins era, as they finished the season in second place in the National League East with a record of 79-83. There are reasons to believe the Mets will continue to make strides in the right direction this upcoming season.

Matt Harvey is returning to an already strong rotation. David Wright and Curtis Granderson both aim to have bounce back performances, and top prospect Noah Syndergaard should make is Major League debut this season.

Earlier this offseason, Sandy Alderson signed former All-Star Michael Cuddyer to further lengthen the lineup and solidify the outfield. All of these factors can lead one to believe the Mets will be a better team than they were in 2014, but the burning question remains: are the Mets good enough to compete for a playoff spot in 2015?

When the Mets jumped at the opportunity to sign Cuddyer in early November, it was speculated the Mets would go all-in to acquire the final pieces towards building a contending team. Alderson and the rest of the front office had made it publicly known that the signing of Cuddyer allowed the team to keep all of its main assets in hope of upgrading other positions, most notably shortstop via a potential trade. “Sandy has talked about [how] we’re looking to turn the corner here and start to compete in 2015,” assistant GM John Ricco said during the General Managers’ meetings. “This is a message that we’re going to be aggressive and right out of the box we had a guy we liked and went out and got him.” Well, the offseason came and went and Cuddyer stands to be the only major offseason addition.

Despite the lack of moves made in the offseason, the Mets seem to be very confident that the team is poised to punch a ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2006. “I fully expect us to be in the playoffs,’’ said Captain David Wright during an interview with New York Post columnist Kevin Kernan in mid-January.

Part of Wright’s optimism is likely the fact that Mets have a strong core of young, power pitching with Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, and the return of ace Matt Harvey on the horizon. And that doesn’t even include prized prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

Pitching definitely seems to be the Mets’ core strength. However, it remains to be seen if the Mets can generate enough offense to support the strong pitching.

Yes, Cuddyer was brought in to lengthen the lineup, but can his body hold up over the course of a full season at age 36? Will Cuddyer prove to be an asset? Or will he be other Moises Alou signing: a very professional and capable hitter who consistently could not avoid the disabled list?

Yes, Wright and Granderson are good bets to bounce back, but to what extent they’ll improve also remains to be seen. Will Lucas Duda continue to grow from his breakout 2014 season, a season in which he compiled 30 homers and 92 RBI? Can Terry Collins find ways to maximize his offense – an offense that ranked 28th with a team batting average of .239 last season? All of these what-ifs may determine whether the Mets truly turn the corner in 2015.

While the chatter of confidence is not necessarily a bad thing, I think the Mets just need to tone it down a bit and let their play on the field do the talking. While the Mets have a strong core of pitching, so do the defending National League East champion Washington Nationals, a team in which the Mets went a dreadful 4-15 against during the 2014 season. While the Mets can talk all they want about how good this team is going to be, the fact remains “in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

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