Only 68 days until pitchers and catchers report to their spring training complexes in 2020. It’s nice to watch that count down every winter. Thank goodness my granddaughter is still playing travel ball in California. It keeps me focused on what sport is number one.
Don’t get me wrong, I like watching other sports. I like the NFL. I like college football and basketball. I like the NBA. I like hockey. I like a lot of things. It’s just that I love baseball. I love spring training. I love the warmer weather. I love the way teams make trades or move up prospects to improve their teams. Resigning, moving or releasing players to find that perfect piece of the puzzle.
With that in mind, a few things have happened and then, not happened in the past few days. With the Mets’ rival Phillies inking Zack Wheeler to a five year deal, worth $110 million and Cole Hamels inking a one year, $18 million dollar deal with their other nemesis, the Braves, the brass from Queens had to begin to become active before they were left in the dust.
The Mets trade for Astros veteran Jake Marisnick in exchange for prospects Blake Taylor and Kenedy Corona to Houston is a good start. It puts a veteran right-handed bat in the lineup to complement Brandon Nimmo in CF. What didn’t happen was the Mets doing nothing and that’s a good thing for Mets fans.
GM Brodie Van Wagenen has proven that he is not afraid to make a deal and can think outside the box. Hopefully he has a new, first game of the home stand, treat for us in the press box next year. (Van Wagenen would put out “Dunkin Donuts” for the media and staff before the first game of a series) All kidding aside, I have a gut feeling he is going to surprise Met fans in a positive way before the spring.
We all know that finding a backup catcher, strengthening the bullpen, securing another starter and getting rid of those chicken ala king “Fowl Poles” is at the top of the list for them. They have a roster of young well seasoned players who just missed a wild card spot by three games, but is this organization ready to catch that ring. It’s just that the willingness to spend and trade by the Braves and the Phillies, as well as the world series champion Nationals, will continue to make the National League East the toughest division in baseball.
I believe they need to appraise their oft injured megastar Yoenis Cespedes before they stop dealing. He, along with super talented and at times moody power pitcher Noah Syndergaard, are the keys to them being division contenders or middle of the NL East chasers. They both have the potential to be game changers because of their natural abilities.
The season is long and trying to stay focused, motivated and healthy is hard. The things that separate the men from the boys is shear determination to be the best, it has to be in a players makeup. I believe this young team has good makeup. It showed in their never give up attitude last year. Also, maybe the excitement of having new manager Carlos Beltrán around will be enough to take them to the next level
So as we plod along into the hot stove season looking for those monster trades or free agent signings, I try to focus on the bigger picture. That being the clock ticking towards the first sounds of baseball and the cry of “Play Ball”