Greason: Mets may be the real deal
Elizabeth Greason | Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Spring has finally sprung in South Bend, and while for many that’s a sign of impending final exams and summer vacation, it is also a signature time of year for the world of sports: It is the time of year during which every sport imaginable overlaps for a few short weeks.
It is playoff time for the NBA and the NHL. This past weekend, the NFL got back into full swing as the Draft took place and analysts went into overdrive, while Sunday was the first day of WNBA training camp and the seemingly-neverending PGA Tour season went on as planned.
So, while the world’s attention has been split in quite a few different directions, my focus has been fairly well-maintained on the MLB season as it heats up. Because while you were sleeping, the New York Mets got good.
The Mets finished 2017 with an abysmal 70-92 record, 27 games back of the Washington Nationals in the National League East. And yet, they currently lead the division with one of the best records in baseball. They’ve won blowouts and close games. Their bullpen has held up, as has their starting rotation. But based on the embarrassing nose dive they pulled at the end of 2017, this was not the start to the season anyone was expecting. So let’s take a close look at the factors that have allowed New York to start off 2018 on the right foot.
Terry Collins retired as manager at the end of the 2017 season and was named special assistant to the General Manager, leaving a vacancy for the front office to fill (which, let’s be honest, probably would have been the case had Collins retired or not after his squad’s performance last season). Enter Mickey Callaway, former pitching coach of the Cleveland Indians. Callaway — who brings a much more youthful vibe to the locker room than Collins, who was the oldest manager in the league — has made an effort to bring hard data into the game, as well as an increased focus on his relationships with players.
It has always been the case that when the Mets pitch well, the Mets play well and win games. That has held true so far this season. At 17-9, the squad’s current starting rotation only has three losses — that is not including Matt Harvey, who recently made the move to the bullpen after failing to collect a win in four starts. Jeurys Familia has made a name for himself as one of the best closers in baseball with nine saves on 12 chances. And that’s not to mention the rest of the bullpen, which used to be a thorn in the organization’s side but is now something Callaway can turn to with confidence.
Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier
The acquisition of Todd Frazier has brought in the rein of the “Salt and Pepper” Mets, and I love it. The 32-year-old third baseman’s signature move has come out frequently, with his four home runs, 17 RBIs and 23 hits. The Mets also brought back right fielder Jay Bruce, who has 22 hits, two homers and 12 RBIs. But the real power comes into play with the finally-healthy Yoenis Cespedes: “La Potencia,” who has tallied six home runs and 25 RBIs.
So sure, the Mets might wake up tomorrow, or at the All-Star Break, or in September and realize they’re outplaying themselves. But let’s not write them off just yet. Because I’ve got a feeling these new-look New York Mets are the real deal.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.