By: Fred Aaron

NOT a Mets Preview 2016


images imgres-7 imgres-8 imgres-9I remember when I was much younger the giddy anticipation and trepidation associated with the baseball preview issues of Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, the New York Times and Newsday. I’d race home, excited to see how the national and local sportswriters would rate my Mets for the coming season. And, being that this was the late 70’s and I was (and still am) a diehard Met fan, each baseball preview would end with a great deal of disappoint. Sure, there’d be plenty of stories of guys named Goose, Reggie, Thurman, and Sweet Lou who wore the wrong colored pinstripes and would win championships for some team on the other side of town. And there might be a mention of a guy named Seaver who was now wearing red and pitching in the Queen City, even though we remembered when he was Tom Terrific and helped us win two pennants and a world championship. But there would be scant mention of the Mets. They might toss us a bone and say “Met fans will at least be able to look forward to Lee Mazzilli or John Stearns sitting in the dugout at the All Star game.” However, the pundits would invariably pick the Mets to finish last with nary a mention of Craig Swan, Joel Youngblood, Doug Flynn, Skip Lockwood, Pat Zachry or Steve Henderson. This was the late 70’s and the Mets were pretty bad. Having this happen during my formative years soured me on the whole concept of picking which teams would finish first and win the World Series.

Flash forward two decades. I’m now out of law school and practicing at a firm. Each year, I’d participate in a fantasy baseball league that grew out of a group of lawyers who loved baseball. Everyone at the firm knew I was a diehard Met fan, but my fellow league members were shocked, shocked (in the words of Claude Rains’s Captain Renault) to find that I almost NEVER selected a Met to be on my fantasy league team. The reason was simple: I didn’t want to jinx my favorite team. Sure, there were exceptions (like picking up Bernard Gilkey and Lance Johnson in 1996 for the league minimum and watching both have career years, propelling me to the fantasy league championship). But the rule was to not pick Mets, because if they did poorly, they would not only damage my fantasy league team, but they’d hurt me doubly for doing poorly for my real life favorite team. This was certainly the case with Paul Wilson, whom I’d spent the princely sum of $6.25 in a $100 budget league in 1996, only to watch him get shelled before succumbing to a season ending injury.

Now, here we are in 2016, and I am NOT going to make any predictions for the coming season. Why? For the same reason I avoided selecting Mets in my fantasy league: I do not want to jinx my favorite team in any way, shape or form. Yes, the Mets came off a great 2015 in which they stormed through the playoffs to capture the pennant. But in many ways that season did not start until the end of July. Up to that point, the pitching was going well, but the offense was frankly offensive. It was an exercise in futility, watching Cuddyer, Mayberry Jr. and Campbell strand runners all over the diamond. But at the end of July, it was like someone threw on a switch, which in many ways is what actually happened. Sandy went out and picked up Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and, most importantly, Yoenis Cespedes, brought phenom Michael Conforto up from the minors, and watched David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud come back from injuries.

The 2016 Mets look forward to a full season of Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard, a return of Zach Wheeler around the All Star break and a revamped lineup. Cespedes and Conforto are set for a full season with the team in place of Cuddyer who retired. Neil Walker replaces Daniel Murphy at second and Asdrubal Cabrera replaces Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores at short. Both should be upgrades. Wilmer and Lagares move to the bench to join Alejandro de Aza, making for a deeper bench than 2015, where the best that Terry Collins could turn to were Kirk Nieuwenheis, Mayberry Jr. and Soup. And the bullpen looks stronger with veterans Addison Reed and Antonio Bastardo setting up closer Jeurys Familia. The 2016 Mets squad looks better and deeper than the 2015 Mets, at least on paper. But games aren’t won on paper. So, as I’ve stated and continued to state, I will NOT make any predictions of 2016. None. I absolutely refuse. You cannot force me. But, I will point out that if you would like to get tickets to the World Series, I understand that you might need to get a season ticket package. Not that I am making any predictions. No sir. Not me.

About Fred Aaron

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