They packed their bags and were ready to go home. At Citi Field Sunday afternoon the New York Mets completed a 79-83 season of progress and promise as they go into 2015.
And the best way to do it was with a win and finishing the month of September with 15 wins, a second place tie in the standings with the Atlanta Braves at 79-83. Manager Terry Collins said the Mets were ready to move forward and the GM Sandy Alderson said, “I am very pleased what we were able to accomplish this year,”
Though it was a sixth straight losing season, it was the most wins compiled for the Mets under the four-year leadership of Alderson and Collins.
However those steps to progress will be determined more when the important and busy offseason begins Monday. These become the busiest days of the year for Alderson before spring training in February.
Start counting for Opening Day April 6 in Washington D.C. against the Washington Nationals and expect Matt Harvey to get the start, and if fully capable and recovered from Tommy John Surgery, that is a good start to what could become pennant winning baseball at Citi Field.
But to do that, Alderson has more work to do. Will the Mets shop and go over their $85 million budget? And with an influx of good and young pitching, will one of those valuable arms be expendable for a shortstop and hitting outfielder that could put the Mets at the top?
Again, we can all wait and see what transpires between now and April, and also watch what develops in spring training. The overall opinion from these departing 2014 New York Mets is, they will be contenders the next time you see them.
“It was a good ending to a tough year…we certainly look forward to 2105,” Collins said. “Every guy in that room is going to dedicate himself this winter. We talk about being this close or that close”
Collins added about Matt Harvey looking to next year.”He came up to me in the ninth inning in the dugout and said to me, ‘we are going to do it next year’ and I told you he doesn’t lie to me.”
Begin with the pitching staff, even Bartolo Colon the crafty 40-year old veteran who surpassed 200.0 total innings for the first time in his career and his 15 wins. If he is not traded as a part of that package for a power hitter, there are no signs that Colon will be any different.
Collins added the younsters picked it up with their star, David Wright not in the lineup the last six weeks and the bullpen finished strong compiling an 0,59 ERA in their last 11 games.
“We got the pieces,” he said. “It will be nice to add on. I told them what is to be expected to get us over the top and now its up to them to go do that.”
Lucas Duda became the legitimate power hitter, and it got better when it was determined he was the guy at first base when Ike Davis got traded in April. Duda had a closing day home run and finished a career best 30 home runs and 92 RBI.
But Mets fans can remember the strong finish and 30-home runs that Davis had two years ago, similar to a bad first half that Duda also experienced during his tenure. However Duda. as Collins continues to say, is a different type of player and indeed has become that legitimate power hitter going to the opposite field, and teams suddenly got away from the shift when he was at the plate.
“Thirty, that’s a pretty nice number,” Duda said. “I’ll hopefully build on that and take it into next season.”
In essence, Duda solidified himself as a bonafide middle of the lineup guy and that leds to more optimism.
Said Wright,”Duda hitting his 30th home run, a lot of good things happened. We’re close and that’s a good feeling going into the off season with the emergence of guys. Our pitchers, bullpen pitchers, I expect us to be a much better team and a playoff caliber team.”
And a lot of that expectation is on Wright being healthy. He missed numerous games and was shut down the past two weeks with a bad shoulder.
Mets pitchers allowed 618 runs this season. That was their fewest since 1990. And with Bobby Parnell expected to be in the mix,assuming he is throwing with no issues, the pen will be stronger complimenting Vic Black, Jenrry Familia and Jenrry Mejia.
“The pitching is pretty solid but we’re certainly not taking anything for granted in that area as well,” Alderson said. Of course a Dillon Gee or Jonathon Niese can be dealt for that power hitter or shortstop.
Look at this way: With Colon, the emergence of Jacob deGrom and Zach Wheeler there is that optimism.
“ I’m glad to do it everyday,” Carlos Torres said about his major league leading 91.0 innings pitched out of the bullpen and a career high eight wins.
Torres said he will be back next season doing the same thing. “That’s what I am here for,” and he alluded to the Mets being young, and during the past two weeks at times five rookies were in the lineup.
There was the emergence of 20-year old Dilson Herrera at second and Wimer Flores at short and second. Flores scored 14 runs in the final month and tied for eighth in the National League with his four home runs.
Daniel Murphy, ended the season filling in at third for Wright and did his usual, finishing ninth in the league in hits.
But still in the plans is Ruben Tejada. He had another season of struggles and sat on the bench as Flores continued to develop. Tejada drove in two runs and hit his fifth home run Sunday in the eighth inning, and Collins said again last week that the starting role at short is still open.
Though that was side tracked last week when it was reported that the Mets would be more willing to retain Tejada, under contract to 2016, as a backup to whoever commands the position.
“The thing is be ready of next year,” Tejada said. “I have to keep on working on everything and be ready.” But he said,”I would rather start.”
That remains to be determined.
But what came out of that final meeting in the Mets clubhouse Sunday afternoon was optimism. And for the Mets fan base that came out strong for the finale, a win led them to say that 2015 can’t come any sooner.
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