Mets upgraded at nearly every position from Opening Day 2018
By Tim Boyle
The New York Mets made major additions to the roster this offseason. In fact, you could say they upgraded at nearly every position from Opening Day 2018.
Kudos to the New York Mets on doing something I’m not sure any other team in the league did. Nearly a year ago, they opened the 2018 season with a lineup that looks far different than what we should expect in 2019. In my opinion, every single spot on this roster has improved. Specifically, it’s the starting lineup I want to look at.
The Mets may play their first game of 2019 with six or seven guys who didn’t start on Opening Day of last year. Amed Rosario should start at shortstop again and we’ll likely see Brandon Nimmo somewhere in the outfield. Todd Frazier is the question mark both in health and whether or not he gets the nod. However, if he starts at first base, I can confidently say he’s an upgrade, even slightly, over Adrian Gonzalez.
The rest of the infield looks better, too. Robinson Cano is a better hitter than last year’s starting second baseman, Asdrubal Cabrera. Jed Lowrie could also have a better year than Frazier as the team’s third baseman. He’ll, of course, also need to get healthy first.
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Behind the plate, they upgraded from Kevin Plawecki to Wilson Ramos. This may be one of the clearest improvements from last year’s team to the one they will go to war with this season.
Last year’s Opening Day outfield included Jay Bruce in right field and Nimmo in center field. Those two spots should be occupied by the latter and Michael Conforto this year in some combination.
One spot you can argue they aren’t better at is left field. As much as I love Jeff McNeil, he doesn’t compare to a healthy Yoenis Cespedes. I sometimes forget he’s even with the ball club. I’m not even quite sure what he looks like anymore.
And while going from Cespedes to McNeil is a downgrade, it could be a slim one. McNeil was fantastic for the Mets in 2018. He should continue to hit well in his sophomore campaign. He gives this team something they didn’t have much of last year: balls in play that go for hits.
Finally, there’s the pitcher’s spot. Jacob deGrom is slated to make the first Opening Day start of his career. Last year’s start went to Noah Syndergaard who many will now agree is not the superior pitcher. deGrom is the ace of this team and last year, he was the ace of the National League.
Beyond the starting nine, you have to like the improved bench and bullpen. Several of the reserves have started on Opening Day for this franchise in the past or done so with other teams.
As part of the “same old Mets” saga, much of this will be dependent on how healthy the players are in a few weeks. There’s still time for the current ailments to heal up and others to occur.
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The Mets are deep. It would not surprise me in the least to see last year’s 77-win total crushed by what the 2019 team does. At the very least, game one of the 2019 campaign will offer a brighter future.