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Mets interim GM John Ricco is right, they can contend in 2019

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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 09: Wilmer Flores #4 of the New York Mets celebrates after hitting a game-winning, walk-off home run in the 10th inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during Game One of a doubleheader at Citi Field on July 9, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 09: Wilmer Flores #4 of the New York Mets celebrates after hitting a game-winning, walk-off home run in the 10th inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during Game One of a doubleheader at Citi Field on July 9, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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John Ricco believes the New York Mets can contend as soon as 2019. He’s right.

Interim general manager John Ricco may have laid out the game plan for the New York Mets future with his comments last week about when the team wants to contend.

In an interview with the media, Ricco went on to say “I don’t think we’re looking at a two or three-year thing.” Ricco then added that he believes the team should be on track to compete in 2019.

As the Mets playoff hopes continue to drift and the trade deadline approaches, one has to wonder if Riccos’ comments are believable, let alone realistic.

Even though it’s been hard to give this front office credit for being right as of late, Ricco may be on to something here. There is a good chance that the Mets can compete in 2019 if they play their cards right.

When trying to fix the Amazins, the first step has to be to repair from the inside. The New York Mets outfield has all of a sudden become a crowded one with the emergence of Brandon Nimmo this season. Although experience may not be on his side Nimmo needs to play every day for the Mets to have any chance in 2019.

Nimmo has been a big spark plug for New York, in 79 games played he has 11 doubles and 12 home runs to go along with a .381 OBP.

As for the other outfielders, it really depends on who can you count on the most. Michael Conforto has taken a step back this season but should still be sent out to play every day and he must live up to the expectations that we know he can reach based off his past seasons in the orange and blue.

That leaves Jay Bruce and the injury-prone Yoenis Cespedes and just one more spot in the field. Bruce does have versatility as he can play first base too, but ideally, you want one of the younger kids manning that spot.

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Bruce’s contract might also not be an ideal one for teams to take on making him unappealing in trade talks. The major point is the team will be okay with the combination of those four guys going into 2019.

At first base, you have to imagine that either Dom Smith or Peter Alonso will get the call to show what they got. Amed Rosario should still be penciled in as the shortstop and Todd Frazier should still be at third base in year two of his contract he signed in the 2017 offseason. Second base will be an area in which the Mets need to fix whether it’s an in-house option or someone on the free agent market.

This is a team that can hit when healthy and when things are going right. When they get hot like they did to start the year in 2018, they are hot.

Match that up with a dominant rotation led by Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard and it’s hard not to imagine them not being contenders in 2019.

There are only two problems with the New York Mets. Injuries are one key concern and the other is the bullpen.

If Ricco and company want the Mets to get back to contention next year, the bullpen has to be the top priority.

It’s easy to look at the free agent list in 2019 and see names like Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, and Craig Kimbrel and expect the Mets to chase one of them down.

But the Mets do already have $92.5 million dollars committed to next year’s payroll and one should worry about the innings that are on the arms of guys like Miller and Allen who are also entering seasons in which they are now over the age of 30.

The bottom line is the Mets can contend in 2019. Ricco can be totally right about his prediction but it is going to take some work in the 2019 offseason. A strong bullpen should get the Mets where they want to be.

Next: Five Mets on the trade block this July

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Can they do it? And will Ricco remain in the GM’s chair?

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