The pain of what used to be has not left us. By us I mean New York natives. By pain I mean what could've been of the 2006 assembled New York Mets. I loved that team. As someone who bleeds orange and blue, you are aware of the success of the neighboring baseball club in the New York Yankees who reside only a borough away. We share the state with their fan-base, we can't escape their cockiness, confidence or spoiled golden spoon of a fan mentality. We are fully aware of the 27 world championships and 40 American League Pennants. We have been educated about their dominance and rich history, literally and literally.
That's why 2006 was supposed to be our year as Mets fans to reclaim the city and the hearts of all New Yorkers, because when the Yankees win, its expected and envisioned but when the Mets win, the entire state rises. That's what the Mets were capable of. That offseason featured a class of players who help the Mets ascend to the top of the National League East and eventually, one win away from a trip to the World Series. That class includes, Xavier Nady, Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca, Billy Wagner, Julio Franco, and Kris Benson.
These off-season acquisitions were additions to a team that already featured a young and talented core of Jose Reyes and David Wright, the best left-side of the infield in the majors at that time. An All-Star center-fielder in Carlos Beltran was already in place. The Mets had an ace in Pedro Martinez, a Hall-Of-Famer in Tom Glavine and other complimentary starting pitchers in Steve Trachsel, John Maine, Orlando Hernandez and Oliver Perez. This team finished their regular season with a 97-65 record, winning the NL Eastern Division. It was safe to say that current GM at that time in Omar Minaya was definitely earning his salary. For the season and memories he provided due to his responsibilities as a GM for the New York Mets, he should have a statue.
In that post-season, the Mets easily eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers, sweeping the series, three games to none. In the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets fell one game shy of a World Series berth by one pitch that froze Beltran at the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. The Mets haven't recovered since then. It's been six years since the Mets have qualified for the post-season and like the team, the fans have suffered enough.
It's 2014, and this offseason for the Mets, sings a different tune from those of recent years. Here's why: Current GM Sandy Alderson was brought in to be the successor of Minaya, following the 2010 MLB season. Since his entry into the New York Mets front office, Alderson has revamped and vastly improved the Mets farm system, acquiring Zack Wheeler from the San Francisco Giants for Beltran and cash, Noah Syndergaard & Travis D'Arnaud from the Toronto Blue Jays for R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas. As far as drafting, Alderson has selected Matt Harvey in his initial first draft of 2010 and in years 2011, 12 and 13 has drafted Brandon Nimmo, Michael Fulmer, Gavin Cecchini, Kevin Plawecki and Dominic Smith, respectively. Acquiring these top prospects through deals and the drafts has been acknowledged by ESPN analyst and Prospect Expert, Keith Law who rates the Mets farm system 6th overall in the MLB. That's high praise. That means Alderson has been doing something right. It means Alderson's prospects aren't just showing up to play, they're making their presence felt in the Mets organization knocking on the doors of the big leagues to join the show.
That impact is Harvey taking the baseball world by storm in the 2013 MLB season displaying his dominance as the Mets ace, going 12-10, striking out 261 batters, all while posting a 2.39 era, which earned him his first All-Star selection. Its Wheeler, who was ranked 6th overall in MLB.com's top 100 prospects list and 4th in the Right-hander Pitchers list, being brought up to the major leagues during the 2013 MLB season exhibiting a pitching repertoire along with the results of a 7-5 record and 3.42 ERA, striking out 84 in a short stint, which has solidified his spot in the starting rotation for immediate future. It's Syndergaard, who was selected to represent the Mets in the 2013 All-Stars Futures Game at Citi Field, possessing a 95 mph four seam fastball, and 80 mph curveball also throwing a two seam fastball and a circle change-up. Its D'arnaud who in 2013 was ranked 6th in MLB's Top 100 prospects list only to have his ranking slip to 23 due to injury, take the helm as the Mets catcher now due to his bat, defensive capabilities and game-managing potential.
The Mets have prospects who are ready to contribute now to conclude the Mets dry spell in postseason play along with a 2013-14 offseason class in which the Mets made headlines for the first time in a long time. Former All-Star, Chris Young was signed to a one-year $7.25 million dollar contract on November 22, 2013 to help shore up the Mets outfield. On December 6, 2013, Curtis Granderson was lured away from the Yankees and the OF market agreeing to a four-year $60 million dollar contract signed December 6, 2013 with the Mets to bring power to a Mets lineup that has lacked that aspect of their offense. With Harvey expected to miss the duration of the 2014 MLB regular season, Bartolo Colon, fresh off an 18-6 season for the Oakland Athletics, posting a 2.65 ERA, has signed on to join the Mets cause as insurance in the starting rotation, confirmed December 11, 2013. With All-Star third basemen David Wright already in the fold along with solid rotation starters Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, starters who have yet to reach their full potential, the culmination of prospects, starters, and all-stars suggest the Mets should contend for a playoff spot this upcoming season. Nothing is easy when it comes to the Mets, which is exactly why making the playoffs isn't a sure definite.
Questions that have yet to be answered throughout this spring still linger. Who will command first base? Alderson has offered Ike Davis and his services to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles, all teams who have pressing first basemen needs due to his struggles at the plate while Lucas Duda faces a similar predicament despite both having moments this spring as they make their cases to man the right-side of the infield. Who will solidify themselves as the everyday shortstop? I have absolutely no faith in Ruben Tejada who posted .202 Avg through 57 games last season, which is why Wilmer Flores has been given ample time to prove himself defensively between 2nd and 3rd base as his bat is too pure to keep him from the lineup. Can the Mets hit enough to support their solid pitching staff? It's no secret that the Mets rotation will continue to improve but wins aren't being registered by pitchers due to the poor offensive production. Maybe the additions of Young and Granderson can alleviate the pressure on the pitching staff to toss zeroes every outing.
Can the Mets stay healthy? One of the reasons why the Mets have failed to qualify for postseason play is due to the fact that they cannot stay on the field. If the Mets can answer half of all of these questions, the Mets will rock Citi Field like Shea Stadium did in 06. I'm praying on it, and I believe. I believe in the Mets. When they win, life is just better. Maybe in the not too distant future, we can experience another 06 in this new decade.
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