Spending the last 10 days in Port St Lucie, I spoke with a host of Met players as they prepared for their championship run and I must say being around them reminded of two other sports teams I’ve covered in this town—The 1986 New York Mets and The 1994 New York Rangers. And we all know those seasons ended in a trip up Canyon of Heroes and that is where this team is headed in 2017.
The talent on this squad has been well documented but my first- hand look cemented the notion in my mind as they also have the proper combination of hunger and humility. All involved are striving for one goal which will translate into the third World Championship in franchise history. Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins have created a very unique environment in this clubhouse as players competing for playing time actually help each other in a way I have never seen any baseball locker room do. A huge part of that is Collins is a great communicator whom quite frankly has helped me become a better manager in my positions in the business where I manage younger groups of people. He has a knack of being honest and forthright but at the same time supportive. He also lets the clubhouse police themselves which has enhanced the degree of trust between himself and all of his players.
Of course, to win a championship talent is a vital ingredient and this team is loaded. The rotation goes 7 deep and in today’s world that is a necessity as we saw last season. The trio of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey will be the best this sport has seen in quite some time while the quartet of Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman will round out a rotation that will be the envy of every team in baseball.
Offensively, this team has more depth in their lineup than they’ve ever had and a bench that will be so important when injuries or slumps pile up. The 2 forgotten bats in this lineup—Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda—are going to pleasantly surprise Met fans as their power will make this lineup tough to handle top to bottom. I also love the way Travis d’arnaud tweaked his hitting approach which will lend even more depth to the bottom of the lineup.
The complaint I hear is there are too many outfielders and where are you going to put them? Or I hear how are guys like Wilmer Flores going to get the necessary at-bats? In a 162 game season, those things generally play out and if last season proved anything we know this team has a knack for making the best of every situation because they do a great job of shutting out the outside noise.
This will be a historic 2017 Met season that will end up in New York’s next Championship parade in the fall. I felt this was the case all off-season but a trip to Port St Lucie merely validated that in my mind.