The final eulogy is for the New York Mets. It's hard to figure out where to even begin. The season had more ups and downs than the Coney Island Cyclone with the Mets were projected to be a young and improved team, but no one figured they'd win the NL East.
They were an intriguing team. With the reemergence of Matt Harvey, the breakout of Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard making his debut as a bulwark in the rotation, the Mets' pitching grabbed headlines for a good portion of the spring. Here's a look back at what we wrote about the Metropolitans, and how the team evolved from a team of potential to National League Champions.
In the offseason, Jeff Bellone discussed the problem with signing Michael Cuddyer, and how the Mets did themselves a disservice by giving away a draft pick. It turned out to be even worse than Jeff suggested, as Cuddyer played in 117 games and served as an overpriced replacement player. The callup of Michael Conforto and the trade for Yoenis Cespedes limited most of the damage by the Cuddyer signing, but still, good call Jeff.
The Mets only seemed to get stronger as the year went on with their cavalcade of young talent continuing to get the call to the majors. The Mets promoted Noah Syndergaard in mid-May, when they sat 3.5 games ahead of the disastrous Nationals, which started some interesting conversations about a dark horse winning the East. Michael Bradburn summarized the boost Thor would likely give New York, never thinking he would be a key cog to the Mets postseason success. In 150 innings, Syndergaard mustered a 3.1 fWAR, and made the RA Dickey trade look silly in its own right, based entirely on his value.
Spencer Bingol broke down the Dickey trade, concluding regardless of what happens in the future, the Mets won the trade. Considering some of the acquired players including Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud already contributed to a pennant victory, it sure seems that way (we'll leave aside the fact that TDA couldn't have thrown out Bartolo Colon trying to steal second base in the World Series).
The Royals certainly were the team that wouldn't quit throughout all the playoffs, but let's not forget all the adversity the Mets went through over the course of the year. New York lost David Wright for most of the season --- Wright only played in 38 games all year. Bryan Grosnick discussed Wright's historical impact on the Mets, and also mentioned the team hasn't played a meaningful game since 2006. While our Managing Editor Emeritus was correct at the time, he was sure glad he was wrong in the end.
With Wright out for an unknown amount of time, Mets fans screamed for Michael Conforto. Conforto who the NY brass eventually called up amidst a fledgling outfield. The first part of July served up a tough stretch for the Mets.
Rumors of a Matt Harvey shut-down abounded; a conversation known all too well to Nationals fans. Would Harvey pitch in the playoffs? Would the Mets even make the playoffs?? As the season wore down, the Mets adjusted the innings and starts for Harvey. Perhaps if Henry Druschel sent this memo about how best to effectively plan for limited innings to the front office, we could have avoided a couple weeks of ‘Harvey Hysteria'.
Beyond Harvey-innings-palooza, fans including Bryan Grosnick clamored for the Mets to promote their prospect outfielder, Michael Conforto. At a time when the Mets horrendous offensive outfield looked historically bad, magic happened. The Mets supposedly sent Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez...then didn't...which was their best move of the second half.
Flores lived to play another day with the organization that signed him when he was only sixteen years old. Instead of shipping the man who lost his shortstop job in the spring due to ineffective fielding (Flores: only Met infielder to not make a World Series error, by the way), the Mets found another offensive solution in Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes tore the cover off the ball for the rest of the summer. I noted Yo wasn't the first player to change leagues and crush it. Prior to Cespedes, the Mets added strength to their bench, trading for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, but few expected either of those players to provide the spark of Cespedes (and neither did for that matter).
Something clicked when Cespedes joined the team, and the offense rolled. The Mets actually turned a rock bottom game of a crying Wilmer Flores, and a brutal loss that involved a multi-hour rain delay (which happened to be the last blown save for Jeurys Familia prior to the World Series) and rally around it all. Flores started to hit, and the unthinkable happened when the Mets put on a laser show against the Phillies.
Matt Williams continued to plunge the Nationals into the depths of the Potomac, while New York continued to roll. Despite losing Jenrry Mejia to (yet another) PED suspension, the closer situation remained locked with Jeurys Familia at the helm. Dan Weigel expounded on Familia's excellent new pitch which served him well throughout the year. Even in the World Series, where Familia took some slack, he only gave up three hits against 18 batters! Jacob deGrom took a huge step forward, proving his 2014 was no fluke. The Mets rode deGrom's right arm all the way to the Fall Classic.
Nick Lampe wrote why the Mets were going to win the World Series and he was oh so close! While Daniel Murphy did his best Carlos Beltran impression to get the Mets to represent the National League, the team turned into a pumpkin. It's true Jeurys Familia is one of the best relievers in the game, but the Mets ended up on the short end of the World Series stick.
Personally, I wrote about the Mets far more than I intended this year, but the fun stories were simply too juicy to resist. The content on the site related to the Mets puts together a decent narrative of what happened, and how a team went from an absolute joke (see Flores crying) to unexpected playoff juggernaut (that Cubs series lasted about nine seconds).
As I mentioned in my Musings Monday morning, it's not often a team loses the World Series and wins it the following year. The defensive miscues, managerial missteps, and ineffectiveness out of the bullpen will keep fans pining for another October run. Credit the Royals for putting it all together, but New York generated some buzz that will likely last for the foreseeable future.