By: Matthew Cavanagh

#UnfinishedBusiness: But What Did We Learn from 2015?

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The Mets will fittingly open 2016 in Kansas City, and as they watch the World Series banner raised by the team that handed them a bitter defeat last fall, the mantra of #UnfinishedBusiness will be officially in effect. There is very much to be excited about with this young team loaded with young pitching. But in order to accomplish what the Royals did in winning a World Series after losing the previous year, the Mets must ask themselves: What did we learn from 2015?

There were plenty of positives we should take away from the 2015 postseason run. For starters (pun intended) the young aces are simply dominant. Curtis Granderson has proven to be clutch. Bartolo Colon is as versatile as he is lovable. After playing shaky defense at shortstop in the first half, Wilmer Flores filled in admirably following Ruben Tejada’s season-ending leg injury. Michael Conforto looks every bit the prospect the Mets drafted out of Oregon State in 2014. Yoenis Cespedes is so feared that whomever bats in front of him is likely to go on a tear (see: Daniel Murphy). But patting themselves on the back will not improve the Mets chances for 2016. It is crucial that the team look at their shortcomings from last fall and address them:

* You can’t rely on the home run:

While home runs were a huge part of the team’s success last year, the in inability to manufacture runs hurt them. The Mets lost their best contact hitter in Daniel Murphy and feature several high strikeout guys and very little speed. That said, Terry Collins and his staff have to do a better job encouraging players to go first to third, shortening up with two strikes, and hitting situationally.

* Don’t misuse Família:

The Mets closer was a huge part of their success last year. The Alex Gordon HR in Game 1 was devastating, but most fans don’t blame Família for blown saves brought on by poor defense in Game 4 and Game 5. It didn’t help that Terry Collins used Família in a 9-3 blowout in Game 3.

*Get starters experience closing out games:

No one should second guess Terry Collins leaving Matt Harvey in for the 9th inning of Game 5 with a 2-0 lead. This writer was one of the 44,859 chanting “Har-vey!” as The Dark Knight walked out to the mound for the 9th. Ron Darling has made an excellent point when asked about that game: this was unchartered waters for Harvey. How do you expect your ace to know how to close out a game if he’s only been permitted to pitch a complete game once in his major league career? Terry needs to allow these studs to pitch 2-4 complete games per season. Besides saving your bullpen that day, it builds confidence in your young starting pitcher.

* Yoenis Cespedes needs to be more patient and recognize when he’s being pitched around:

This was the advice of newly minted Hall Of Famer Mike Piazza when he visited Port St. Lucie at the start of camp. Mike knows a thing or two about being the most feared hitter in the Mets lineup. Despite immense power, Cespedes owns a career OBP of only .319, which is lower than BJ Upton, a player who has finished full seasons with batting averages of .184 and .208. Cespedes is never going to be a 100 walk guy, nor should he be. But in the postseason, teams fed him a steady diet of high heat and breaking stuff away, which he chased with regularity. Cespedes is a very similar hitter to Alfonso Soriano, but with increased plate discipline should be more like Gary Sheffield. He was at his best in early August when he was screaming line drives to right field.

The Mets are returning a similar roster for the 2016 season. All but a few of their current players felt the sting of that World Series defeat in 2015. They’ll use that to fuel them through the 2016 season in an attempt to rectify #UnfinishedBusiness.

About Matthew Cavanagh

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