By: Chris Blumenstetter

What a Difference A Year Makes!



Here we stand, just seven days from opening day, and both Mets fans and players find themselves in an unfamiliar position of security and optimism.  Unlike most fans, I was actually optimistic entering into the 2015 season mostly because of the lack of divisional talent.  A World Series run and some new faces make it nearly impossible to be pessimistic entering 2016.  (NEARLY)

Sure, the spring training results have not been pretty.  The record is something to be forgotten, a lineup wide power outage is evident, and some of the bullpen ERA’s are north of five, BUT, let’s examine some of the names and faces you will see in 2016 compared to those breaking camp in 2015.  


2015 2016
1.Colon 1.Harvey (215 Innings later)
2. deGrom 2. deGrom
3. Harvey (off TJ) 3. Sydergaard
4. Neise 4. Matz
5. Gee 5. Colon


Perhaps the most stark and obvious difference will be the starting rotation.  The 2015 spring headlines were dominated by Wheeler’s Tommy John surgery and the uncertain status of whether the diverse talents of Dillon Gee would be utilized in the bullpen or the starting rotation.  Thor was seen as being a year or so away and Matz was actually seen as closer to the bigs by some analysts.  The perpetually almost Heilman-eque unhappy demeanor of Jon Neise was on full display with comparably erratic results in both spring and the early season.   Colon was getting the ball opening day over ROY deGrom and it looked like the rotation would be a big question mark.  In  2016, the rotation is the strength of the club.  Anchored by four young studs that have the potential to combine for 800+ strikeouts.  Shift Big Sexy to the Pen once Wheeler is back and you have a starting rotation that is under 28 with no ceiling in sight.  


2015 2016
Closer: Mejia Closer: Familia
Set-Up: Familia Set-up 1:Reed
Montero Set-up 2:Bastardo
Carlos Torres Blevins
Alex Torres Robles (2 Game Suspension)
Gilmartin Henderson
Carlyle Goeddel


Citing length concerns in the starting rotation in 2015, the Mets broke camp with eight relievers.  This year, with Robles’ suspension, starting in an AL park, and an unusual amount of off days in the first two weeks, the Mets could head to KC next week with as few as six and as many as eight relievers.  Oddly, the only secure spot in the pen last year belonged to Mejia, who was juicing more than a Tropicana Factory (allegedly, right Jenrry?) You may remember Buddly Carlye, who is no longer with the club, answering the bell opening day and recording the save against the Nationals when Mejia couldn’t perform.  The team was anxiously awaiting the return of Bobby Parnell, for Vic Black to get it together in AAA, and for Alex Torres to debut his padded hat.  

Blevins was great for a week before a comebacker ‘curbed’ his season, and Montero did his best Frank Franciso impression getting paid to basically do nothing.  Even with all the aforementioned issues the bullpen actually was a bright spot for the first two months of the season or so.  In 2016 there is actually a surplus of viable talent.  Familia has established himself as one of the premier closers in the game, with the talented Reed and Bastardo providing the bridge.  Bastardo is struggling this spring, and if those struggles continue look for Jim Henderson to get some 8th inning chances.  Robles will eye consistent swing and miss stuff and Goeddel will provide depth.  This is all without mentioning the likes of Logan Verret and  Sean Gilmartin who will likely join Montero in the starting rotation in AAA poised to get some spot starts along the way.

The Starting 8

2015 2016
Catcher: d’Arnaud Catcher: d’Arnaud
1B: Duda 1B: Duda
2B: Murphy 2B: Walker
SS: Flores SS: Cabrera
3B: Wright 3B: Wright
RF: Granderson RF: Granderson
CF: Lagares CF: Cespedes
LF: Cuddyer LF: Conforto


When you go to the World Series in October, and the opening day 4-5 hitters from that April are not on your roster the following March (Cuddyer, Murphy), it could be seen as a problem.  Not on this club.  Despite a torrid spring in 2015 Cuddyer never really got going in the regular season.  His noble deactivation and subsequent buyout is probably the biggest transaction of the offseason. It freed up the coin for the club to resign Cespedes and give the lineup desperately needed length with the departure of Murphy.  I think that Walker will be a bright spot for this club with gritty play and sufficient defense, I liken him to a Xavier Nady type player from 2006.  Both his and Cabrera’s ability to switch hit will be helpful, let alone their ability to actually TURN a routine double play.  Mets starting pitchers were needlessly extended countless times in 2015 by the lack of turning two.  In fact, the Mets infield defense was ranked 25th in twin killings.  The emergence of Michael Conforto, who started the year in rookie ball last year, and the Mets ability to hit him a bit lower in the lineup if Wright can stay healthy will be key.


2015 2016
Recker Plawecki/Monell
Nieuwenhuis Flores
Tejada De Aza
Mayberry JR Lagares
Campbell Reynolds/Campbell


The lack of Depth in 2015 was not only disgusting, it was exposed.  Early injuries to Wright and D’arnaud put this putrid bunch in the spotlight and in prime time spots in the lineup.  In 2016 the lineup could look very different on a day to day basis.  Versatility and depth are apparent and will aid in monitoring the playing time of David Wright which, despite what the club may be portraying publicly, is a HUGE concern.  As a spinal stenosis sufferer myself, albeit as an overweight, balding educator and not a professional athlete, I will be the first to tell you that some days you just wake up in pain.  David’s swing inparticular has a tremendous amount of torque and his upright running style also compresses the lumbar spine.  I would be very surprised if he plays more than 100 games this year.  Eric ‘nine lives’ Campbell may find himself with the big league club if the Mets choose to go with a short bullpen or at some point if another team desires De Aza.  Look for the Mets to keep Plawecki back with AAA to start the season in what the club will call “a chance to play every day” but truly a ruse to keep him from becoming arbitration eligible a year earlier.  

Final Analysis

A lack of position battles and a dearth of injury news made this spring a bit uneventful.  It is entirely possible this lack of competition led to some of the lackluster performances as some of the guys just want to ‘get going’.  I would rather be reading about Thor riding a horse and Cespedes’ car collection then anyone’s tommy john plans or a battle for the 4-5 spots in the rotation.  This team is very good if not great, and it is OK to be excited and optimistic.  I think……

About Chris Blumenstetter

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