Do you look at Citi Field in September and see a stadium half empty? If so, you may be a pessimist.
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the 2015 season. In fact, it is not unrealistic to believe that Mets fans are six months away from witnessing playoff baseball at Citi Field for the first time. But for now, it is time to take off the rose-colored glasses and put on the garbage-tinted goggles. Here are ten reasons for Mets fans to worry in 2015.
1. There will be arm injuries
To a team built on its pitching, there is no greater enemy than the arm injury. Don't think that just because Zack Wheeler has gone down with a torn UCL that the angry baseball gods have been sated; the likelihood of another Mets pitcher sustaining a serious injury remains unsettlingly high. There is enough organizational depth so that Wheeler's injury is not a crippling loss, but if something were to happen to Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom, it could be catastrophic. It is recommended that Mets fans hold their breath every time a pitcher throws a pitch. Just to be safe.
2. There will be...other injuries
While pitcher injuries deserves it's own separate bullet point, position players are also eligible to be injured, as per league rules. David Wright and Travis d'Arnaud both have a tendency of causing themselves bodily harm, while 36-year-old Michael Cuddyer is essentially held together by paper clips and twist ties. Plus, it is never too early for the next young stud to take his first step towards acquiring the much sought-after "injury prone" label. The hard truth is that your favorite player is going to get injured this year, probably right before he was set to reach an significant milestone, very likely at a game which you are attending.
3. Beware: Regression
It is human nature to temper expectations after a breakout season, and those instincts are not without justification. Jacob deGrom's unbelievable rookie season came on the heels of a K/9 that was almost two full points higher than his minor league average. Lucas Duda mashed his way to 30 homeruns thanks to an ISO that was .36 better than his previous career high. Juan Lagares's .281 batting average was fueled by a possibly unsustainable .341 BABIP. The Mets really need most of the gains made in the 2014 season to carry over into this season, but Mets fans need to be prepared for the realistic scenario in which many of them do not.
4. Not everyone bounces back
If you ask some fans, it is almost a given that David Wright will rebound, at least in some fashion. Many people also expect Curtis Granderson to perform better than he did last year. But what if they don't? Granderson's fWAR has dropped in each of the last three years, and he will be 34 this season. Wright's drop-off was more extreme, but it is still not a given that his nagging injuries won't return to again sap his power. And what if Matt Harvey is unable to return to top form for an entire season? These are the questions Mets fans should probably not be asking themselves, especially as they lay in bed attempting to fall asleep.
5. Washington has a fantasy baseball rotation
For all the excitement about the Mets' pitching talent, and it is warranted, the Nationals' rotation is simply in another class. The addition of Max Scherzer gives them a one-two punch of Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, which could be the best in all of baseball. Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister round out the deepest, most talented rotation in the league. Luckily, there are now two wild card spots up for grabs, because the Mets are realistically playing for second place in the NL East.
6. The Wilpons are broke
If only the Mets played in a major market, like the Royals or Twins or Mariners or Yankees or one of the other 18 teams with a higher payroll, perhaps they would be able to land some quality major league talent. Despite what the party line has been over the past few years, the Mets have continued to shop at the baseball equivalent of Five Below for their free agent needs. Should the need arise for an upgrade, there is little reason to believe the Wilpons will be willing to take on much salary in any trade.
7. Questions about the bullpen remain
How will Bobby Parnell fare after he eventually returns from Tommy John surgery? How much time will Vic Black miss with his shoulder injury? Will Jenrry Mejia cutting his hair have a Samson effect (of course Jenrry Mejia cutting his hair will have a Samson effect)? Will Jerry Blevins's performance on the mound warrant such an epic Twitter avatar?
8. Avert your eyes: Corner outfield defense
If the Mets had anything less than the best defensive center fielder in baseball, the signing of Michael Cuddyer would be a disaster. They do have the best defensive center fielder in baseball. The signing of Michael Cuddyer might still be a disaster.
9. Avert your eyes, part two: Middle infield defense
Daniel Murphy has improved his defense to the point of being a passable second baseman. Wilmer Flores's defense was actually pretty solid last year, depending on which metrics you believe. There is an outside chance this double play combination will be just good enough to get the job done. But if you're expecting it to look pretty, well...avert your eyes.
10. The farm system will not be ranked in the top five by the end of the season
Despite graduating young talent such as Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares, and Travis d'Arnaud, the Mets' farm system is as strong as it has been in decades. But by the end of the 2015 season, the Mets may be getting positive contributions from Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Rafael Montero, Dilson Herrera and others. If the Mets continue to graduate young, exciting talent at such a pace, their farm system is bound to take a tumble in the rankings. And then what will Mets fans have to look forward to? Slow down with all the impressive youngsters already!