If there is a fanbase more inherently pessimistic than the Mets’, they hide it better on Twitter. Mets fans notoriously see the world through brown-colored glasses, and so our staff has laid out the reasons why maybe the 2021 season won’t go the way we want.
Kory Powell: Without question, the biggest reason to be pessimistic about this Mets team is the bullpen. Though this team has many strengths, it’s fair to say the bullpen is not one of them. While they did add Trevor May this offseason, Seth Lugo will be starting the year injured, and the depth behind May and Edwin Diaz is worrisome. Dellin Betances and Jeurys Familia both had their struggles this spring, and I fear there will be games this season that end up in extra innings because of the bullpen, or even worse, end up as losses because of the bullpen.
Dave Capobianco: The bullpen. It’s the one area where the depth doesn’t really look solid, and the Mets probably needed at least one extra high-end reliever as a backup in case Edwin Diaz falters again. Especially with the injury to Seth Lugo, there is A LOT of downside here. We saw in 2019 how a horrid bullpen can tank an otherwise solid team.
Allison McCague: The bullpen worries me a great deal. Although Seth Lugo (hopefully) won’t be missing too much time, the Mets have not adequately replaced him. With the setup duties left to Trevor May alone, the likes of Jeurys Familia and Dellin Betances are likely to see some high leverage innings, especially early in the year. Neither of them has looked strong this spring and that’s concerning. Edwin Diaz being closer to his 2019 self than his 2020 self is further down my list of concerns, but it’s the guys that are behind him that are more so the source of my fears. The Mets are going to need someone like Miguel Castro to step up big and keep the late inning relief afloat until Lugo’s return and I just don’t know how much they can count on that. But, it’s not like the Mets are unique in this regard in their division or in baseball at large.
Michael Drago: Look, the Mets have had some pretty poor defensive players over the years. But if they’ve ever had a trio of players as defensively challenged as Brandon Nimmo in center, Dominic Smith in left, and JD David at third at the same time, I’ve wiped it from my memory. All three of those guys offer other positive attributes to the team and can hopefully improve their defense over time, but it’s not going to be pretty in the early going. And when the Mets are already going to be fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot, they can ill afford to have their defense costing them games on a consistent basis.
Rich Resch: I am quite optimistic about this year’s squadron, but there are always a number of things that can go wrong. Aside from injuries and poor defense, there are two potential factors that concern me the most. The first is that there is a lot of production from last season that needs to be replaced; Michael Conforto and Dominic Smith had exceptional seasons and are due for some BABIP regression, while Robinson Cano’s absence leaves a .376-wOBA-sized hole that will be hard to fill; Francisco Lindor is certainly a better overall player than Cano, but he should not be expected to replace Cano’s 2020 production. The offense is fantastic on paper, but some down years are inevitable. The other issue is that the Mets play in the only division that has five teams who are actively trying to win baseball games. Of all the teams projected to finish last in their respective division, the Marlins are easily the best. The Nationals and Phillies both have the potential to win 90 games if everything comes together, and the Braves have won this division three times in a row for a reason. The level of competition puts all five teams at a disadvantage when it comes to nabbing a wild card spot.
Rob Wolff: Bullpen, bullpen, bullpen. Oh, and the defense.
Grace Carbone: As a Mets fan you always have to be aware of the propensity for injuries, and we’ve already seen that play out with Carlos Carrasco this spring. Luckily the Mets have better depth, but all it takes for a few more starter injuries and we’re staring down the barrel of Corey Oswalt starting. The defense has improved but still isn’t great (as much as I love Dom I’m terrified any time a ball gets hit to left field, both for the play and also his own safety). And the Mets are playing in a hyper competitive division, so they have to stay on the ball or they could easily tumble to third or fourth place. Also, that bullpen: woof.
Christian Romo: The expectations for this year’s team have reached as high as they can possibly go, but unfortunately in order to make it to the World Series, they have to beat every other team in the National League. I think the Mets are better than the Braves and the Padres, but quite a few people tell me I’m wrong and they all make very good points. But the most indisputable obstacle to the Mets success is a team in Los Angeles that might be the best team I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. It’s certainly possible that the Dodgers are the only team standing in the way, but they are projecting some juggernaut vibes I haven’t felt since the Golden State Warriors signed Kevin Durant.
Linda Surovich: The Braves are still good, man.
Vas Drimalitis: The Mets should be good, but are they good enough to beat the Dodgers? The Padres? The Braves? The club’s biggest problem right now is that, while they positioned themselves to be a potential top-5 team in baseball with a really solid offseason, they may still be the fourth-best team in the National League. The Dodgers and Padres are still the cream of the crop in the National League, and if the Braves are healthy, they still present a big threat to the team’s World Series hopes. The Mets are also in the toughest division in baseball, and it’s conceivable that they could win 90 and still fall short of a playoff spot. They’ll have their work cut out for them having to face these teams 18 times per year.
Brian Salvatore: One thing that the Mets have never consistently done is built a winner into a dynasty. Although the Mets have thankfully extended Francisco Lindor, they have not had substantial conversations with Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, or Marcus Stroman. That likely means that at least one or two of those players will not be Mets come 2022, which means that for this team to win, they pretty much need to win this year. Obviously, there will be ways to fill the roster next offseason, but we saw this front office whiff on every top free agent this year and were unable to come to terms with three of their four their extension candidates. While there are lots of reasons to be optimistic, we are Mets fans, and know that behind every silver lining is a bigger cloud. The season is beginning with two starters and the best relief pitcher on the roster hurt already; the window could be closing so fast it is frightening.
Lukas Vlahos: The bullpen is probably going to be very, very bad. Even prior to Seth Lugo’s injury, this team needed additional relievers. Instead, Dellin Betances—who looks like toast—is being guaranteed a spot. Ditto Jeurys Familia and Jacob Barnes, both of whom have looked quite bad this spring. Potential breakout candidate Drew Smith is battling his own injury issues as well, and it’s not as if Edwin Diaz has been a paragon of stability either (though I’m a believer personally). That the Mets didn’t invest more in this area is fairly baffling given how well they addressed the rest of the roster in general. It seems likely that a mid-season trade will be necessary in order to patch this hole down the line.
Chris McShane: The Mets did a lot over the course of the offseason, but they could have done much more to bolster the bullpen. Instead, they head into Opening Day with a whole bunch of question marks, and they’ll likely have to trade for some relievers during the season when they could have just signed some over the offseason.