It's Spring Training and I've decided that I believe in Sandy's plan. Apparently, we're not going to contend until next year. In the spirit of the perpetual optimism that permeates all baseball fans before the Vernal Equinox, I'll peg the Mets as winning the World Series in 2015.
But that's not really enough for me. I want to spend the day thinking about how I want it to happen. So, while optimistic, I do want it to be real. I want it to occur after a struggle. I want it to be done in Mets-ian fashion. I want us to be sure that the other shoe is going to drop. I want us to be calling for the closer's head multiple times. I want to see a NY Post headline with an incredibly serendipitous typo reading, "TRAID DAVID WRONG." And most of all, I want the season to be so memorable, that I have to subscribe to Sports Illustrated in November because I'll need the leather-bound edition detailing the 2015 Mets' Magical Season.
So remember, it might not be the most realistic. It might mean I'm wearing rose-colored RecSpecs over my rose colored glasses, but this is how one fan wants to see it all go down. I'll try to be keep with what is possible. The Mets will not be able to trade Francisco, Nimmo, and Fulmer for Mike Trout. Payroll won't skyrocket, so winning this with a lot of young, unproven guys who aren't too expensive.
One more thing: In this scenario, Derek Jeter announced his retirement in Spring Training 2015. He does not go out on top.
2015 New York Mets
Manager: Wally Backman
2nd season as Mets skipper. Still known for his fiery temper and managerial outbursts, he is suspended three times for bumping umpires. This leads to the joke that Backman and Teufel are simply reprising their platoon from the '80s, except they're managing instead of playing 2B.
Bench Coach: Tim Teufel
Calming influence in the dugout. Actually gets a call at home plate reversed because umpire is happy that it wasn't Wally coming out to berate him and in his words, "At least I can talk to Tim. He doesn't hurt my feelings."
Pitching Coach: Dan Warthen
The only exciting thing Warthen does all season is get Buddy Holly glasses.
Hitting Coach: Dave Hudgens
Mets lead league in OBP. Still, no one notices that he's good at his job because there aren't enough homers.
1st Base Coach: MOOKIE.
Because that's what I want to see, ok?
C- Travis D'Arnaud
By this time, he's become a young leader on the team. He's a fringe All-Star to the rest of the league, but he's a no-brainer to us. After all, Yadier Molina is slowing down by now; Carlos Ruiz great season was a PED-mirage; McCann has posted good rate stats but has become very vulnerable to lefties and is starting to lose playing time due to nagging injuries. Everyone tells us that Buster Posey is a cut above all others, but the most loyal Mets partisans are constructing cases that say Posey and D'arnaud are a toss-up.
1B- Ike Davis.
He's an All-Star. 35 HRs, but there was a week-long NY mediastorm because Ike Davis went 0-fer the Home Run Derby that seemed to precipitate a July funk. This led to serious trade rumors circling Ike for a good deal of August, but then Ike gets hurt diving into the dugout corralling a pop-up and misses half of July and all of August. Sandy couldn't even trade him if he wanted to. He comes back in September and tears the cover off the ball.
It becomes a running joke around the league that Ike's allergic to chalk because he has to play so far off the line in order to compensate for the lack of range of our 2Bs. It drives Keith Crazy because he never played so far off the line.
2B- Wilmer Flores.
What? Where are my Blue-Collar Blasts? Well, that's a funny story. Midway through the 2013 season, Flores was carving up the PCL with a .330/.430/.600 line that not even the altitude-watchers could dismiss. Did you see the 3-HR game he had in Sacramento against the RiverCats? Or the game where he turned 5 double plays and ended up on SportsCenter Top 10 for his glove. It was a Mejia start.
Anyway, Sandy declared Flores ready and shipped Murph to the White Sox for Dayan Viciedo in July 2013. Viciedo was hitting well, but Ken Williams needed to sure up the open sore that is the White Sox 3B position. Murph travels on. He hits well. He hits third for the 2014 AL Central Champions. We wish him well. Interestingly, he makes a bet with the owner that if he can hit .400 over the last two months of the 2014 season, the infamous Shorts uniform would be a gimmick in 2015. Sportsfans everywhere wish Murph only hit .399 in in August and September 2014.
Wilmer is never a plus with the glove, but his bat carries him and his hands are sure. He's everything Howie Kendrick was supposed to be. Buster Olney keeps referring to him as a future Batting Champion. Wilmer's nickname becomes "Miguelito" in honor of countryman Miguel Cabrera, but he's forced to lay off the arepas at a younger age. When Ike misses 6 weeks after the ill-fated pop-up, Wilmer slides over to 1B and Jordanny Valdespin takes over at 2B.
SS- Ruben Tejada.
He's steady Ruben, who keeps improving at an incremental rate. He disproves long-standing media-criticism by being the first Latino player to be labeled as scrappy by both Tim McCarver and Joe Buck three times in one inning. Ruben hits 35 doubles and plays steady defense. He makes so many plays up the middle, that the area directly behind the pitcher's mound is colloquially referred to as "The Panama Canal." He convinces fellow Panamanian Ruben Blades to sing the National Anthem for a late June day game. Ruben Blades has a different interpretation and plays it as a salsa song. Fox and Friends' heads explode.
3B- David Wright.
Wright has a horrific April, leading to the "TRAID DAVID WRONG" headline in the Post. He shrugs it off and has a classy, successful, Wright-esque season. In a hot, humid Saturday game against the Nationals, Strasburg hits Flores in the 4th inning after after Flores had gone yard in the 1st. As Wright comes to the plate, he engages in a shouting match with the normally unflappable Strasburg. The players need to be separated, but before the first pitch, Wright conspicuously points at the C on his jersey. After Strasburg paints the black with two triple digit heaters, he hangs a curveball on 0-2 and David Wright rattles the orange foul pole in left field. A visibly frustrated Strasburg hits the showers early.
LF- Lucas Duda
Hits for Power. Still lead-footed in the outfield. Often leaves for a defensive replacement with Valdespin and Cowgill logging lots of innings out there. His defense keeps Wally up at night, but his bat justifies it enough to turn him into a league average player.
CF- Matt den Dekker
MDD starts slowly in the minors in 2013, but tears through the PCL in the second half. He remains a high K% guy, but he adds a bit of plate decision and seems to get by on an unnaturally high BABIP. Gold Glove Caliber Defense and is the darling of sabermetric fans for his defense, but does not win the Gold Glove because he's not established enough. He hits 8th. He has so many Web Gems that John Kruk makes everyone uncomfortable for using the phrase "like a young White Torii Hunter." Kruk slips up once and calls him a "Suburban Torii Hunter" and is quietly phased out of ESPN's baseball coverage
RF- Davan Viciedo
Dayan Viciedo came to NY with big shoes to fill, but immediately wins over Mets fans by requesting to wear #0 in honor of his childhood idol and countryman Rey Ordonez. Viciedo finds some more power as he fills out and plays well for us, well enough that President Obama mentions him as a Cuban export when he lifts the Cuban embargo in the wake of Fidel Castro's death.
UTIL- Jordany Valdespin
Backs up at CF, LF, 2B, and even SS if a flyball pitcher is on the mound, an old trick Backman learned from Davey Johnson. Very feared pinch-hitter. Still too flashy for some Mets fans, but the rest of us just find his preternatural confidence very Jordan-y.
OF- Colin Cowgill-
Spells all three OF positions, taking playing time from MDD and Duda. Takes two showers a day so people will stop calling him gritty.
IF- Wilfredo Tovar-
Kind of like Rafael Belliard for the Braves in the 90's, except no mustache. Defensive Replacement. Can play both middle IF positions, and 3B when Wright and Flores are busy. Doesn't hit much.
C: AJ Pierzynski.
He doesn't play much. You get the sense he joined the Mets as a backup simply to get more exposure in the NY media market (he already has Chicago covered) in order to launch a broadcasting career when he hangs up his spikes. Everyone else hates him. He's a jerk, but he's our jerk. That's AJ. He seems to keep popping up as the guy who shaving cream pies the hero of the night. In Sept. after an Ike Davis walk-off, he pies Kevin Burkhardt (who lands the main play-by-play job with the Houston Astros for the 2016 season.)
Corner OF/ 1B- Jai Miller
Waiver Wire pickup. Is he a quad A masher? Why yes, he is. He backs up Duda in Left and can shift to First base when Davis or Flores isn't playing there.
SP 1- Matt Harvey
Upper-echelon pitcher. Unquestioned ace. Still seems surly every time he gives up a hit. All-Star snub. He gets angry, pitches even better in the second-half, especially against Davey Johnson who picked Gio Gonzalez in a homer pick for which even ESPN criticizes him.
SP 2- Jon Niese
Much like Eli Manning, everyone spends time arguing if he's an elite pitcher. Much like with Eli Manning, it doesn't matter. Jon Niese pitches like an ace. He uses his curve and his ERA finally catches up to his peripherals.
SP 3- Zack Wheeler
Amazing young pitcher. Wheeler jerseys are all the rage. Has some bad games, but wins 17 games on the strength of great run support.
SP 4- Dillon Gee
Is a Control Artist. I'm talking he paints so precisely, Ronnie calls his pitch charts like some kind of pointilism. Calls him a modern day Seurat. Keith calls him a junkballer always teetering on the edge of a big inning. Gary Laughs.
SP 5- Jenrry Mejia
Power Sinker gets Backman to give Flores off-days on Mejia starts. But when he strikes out out a lot of people, Amazin Avenue dubs him JANKKKKK. (The J is to sound like an H.)
Closer- Bobby Parnell
He harnessed his breaking ball. He's kept his beard, but isn't as insufferable about it as Brian Wilson is.
Relief Ace- Johan Santana
Surprisingly re-signs with Mets at a tremendously discounted rate in 2014 because he wants to "finish the job." He doesn't make it through the season completely healthy, so he comes back as a reliever. Backman actually uses him like a relief ace and uses him whenever the game is on the line, unless Matt Diaz is at the plate. Santana embraces the role and has special handshakes with everyone. When asked why he is OK with being a reliever, he says "I'm a pitcher and it doesn't matter when I pitch, only that we win."
Setup- Jeurys Familia
He only walks 3/ 9 IP!!! But that heat helps him get the job done. Loses his job temporarily in July, but he regains it by August.
LHP Josh Edgin
Basically what he is now, except better and a bit fatter. Think David Wells without the media coverage. Or Rich Garces with better results. His entry music is "Livin' on the Edge"by Aerosmith.
Lightning in a Bottle- Noah Syndergaard.
Hey Remember K Rod in 2002? He came up in September, was only able to be on the postseason roster because of an injury and then he was a lights-out sensation? Well, yeah take that, make him 6'5". Also, for the purposes of this, Syndergaard's Curve ball improves drastically. And thanks to his Northern-European sounding last name, his curveball becomes known as "Thor's Hammer." This comes right in time for the marketing of Thor 3. He becomes best friends with Chris Hemsworth.
RHP- Cory Mazzoni
Young gun trying to make it big. This was his first year. Used mostly in lower leverage situations. For a short time, he took over the 8th inning when Familia had some struggles. Bounced back and forth a bit from Triple A.
RHP- Brad Ziegler
Right Handed Sidearmer. Free Agent Addition from the 2014 offseason. He throws funky. Fan favorite.
2nd in NL East (90-72).
The Mets finish 5 games behind the Nats. The Mets couldn't catch the Nats down the stretch but successfully held off the Pirates, Diamondbacks, and Braves. The Braves really underachieved, with both Upton brothers disappointing down the stretch. The Mets technically grab the second wild card, with the Giants grabbing the first one. The Giants have had time to set their staff and Matt Cain is set to start. We can't set our rotation, so Dillon Gee is going to start the playoff game for us at AT&T Park.
Wild Card Game:
The Giants jump out with a run in the first inning. They load the bases in the 2nd and 4th but Gee skates out of trouble. In the 5th, Gee puts the first two on and Backman goes to Santana. Johan escapes the jam with the help of an MDD diving catch on a sinking liner in the gap. Santana then pitches 2 perfect innings after that, and helps cement his image into Mets' playoff lore by striking out the side in the 7th. In the 8th., Duda doubles to lead off, but two quick outs follow. MDD, who inexcplicably has good numbers against Sergio Romo works a walk, as Romo was on for the 6 out save and was working MDD carefully. Jordany pinch-homers into McCovey Cove, which gives the Mets a 3-1 lead they never relinquish. Familia and Parnell shut the door in the 8th and 9th and the Mets are goin' to the NLDS!!!
NYM over LAD in 6.
The Mets face the team with the best record, as the Dodgers won 97 games in 2015 on the strength of being Yankees West and buying everyone they can. Harvey wins game 1 in LA. But Niese gets rocked in Game 2. Headed back to Citi tied 1-1, Wheeler is lights out for 7 innings, and Santana and Parnell close out the game. Wright and Davis are the hitting stars, each knocking a 2-run homer. The Mets take Game 4 on the strength of D'Arnaud's HR and 2 doubles, driving in 5. The Dodgers get to Harvey in Game 5, but Niese comes back and shuts the door on the Dodgers in Game 6, throwing a CG, allowing 2 meaningless runs in the 8th as the Mets coast to the NLCS with an 8-2 win. Goodbye ghost of 1988!
NYM over WAS in 7.
The Mets go down 3-1, but rally back with big wins by Wheeler, Harvey, and Niese. Syndergaard shuts down two rallies in Games 5 and 6. Game 7 ends with Bryce Harper swinging through high heat from Parnell. Tejada shows some unexpected pop, taking Strasburg deep twice, once in game 1, once in game 5. Duda inexplicably has 6 singles against Gio Gonzalez. Jayson Werth is seen crying at the Mets celebrate on the Nationals' field.
NYM over NYY in 4.
Jeter hits .171.
The only game in doubt is game 2. The rest are blowouts. Johan Santana is on the mound for the last out at Citi Field. David Wright is World Series MVP, having hit 3 HRs and drove in 9 during the sweep. It almost seems anti-climactic, but no one exhales until Robinson Cano strikes out feebly by waving at Johan's change up for the first Met title in 29 years. Keith sheds a tear.
OK, so that's how I see it happening. Anyone else want to try as to how they want it to happen?