Opinion: Rising confidence and talk of 90 wins

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

In March, the Mets schedule gave me major doubts about whether they could finish the season around .500. I feared a difficult starting point and maybe a 10-17 record by May 1. Today, with two days left in April, the Mets are 14-11 and on pace to win 91 games.

“We feel good about where we are,” Manager Terry Collins said Sunday (NY Times, Apr. 28). However, he added, “We’re not happy that we only have the wins we have. We thought we could’ve won a couple more.”

I love this attitude. It’s exactly what Sandy Alderson was getting at when he challenged the organization to strive for 90 wins, not just ‘competing,’ or ‘playing meaningful games in September,’ as had been the public objective in previous seasons.

“Our main focus is winning series,” Dillon Gee said after Sunday’s game (NY Times, Apr. 28). “As long as we keep doing that, we’ll be good.”

They have won five of their eight series this year, winning against the Reds, Braves, D-backs, Cardinals and Marlins.


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The Mets played similarly at times during the previous two years. They were 10-9 after 19 games in 2013. They were leading the Wild Card race after the All-Star break in 2012. In both cases, they ended with just 74 wins.

“It’s impossible to beat your chest and walk with a little pep in your step when you’re not winning,” David Wright said (MLB.com, Apr. 28). “But when you get a few series wins under your belt and you beat some good teams and you take care of business at home, you start to feel like you gain that confidence.”

The Mets have the fourth-best record in the National League. However, they are ninth in runs scored and batting a league-worst .218.

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“Our pitching staff is the reason we are where we are,” Chris Young said (MLB.com, Apr. 28). “It’s not the offense. They’re throwing up zeros and giving us a chance to scrap a couple runs across the plate. The majority of games are going to be close games. They’ll give us an opportunity.”

I trust the offense will get it together, but what if it doesn’t? Eventually, their pitching will hit a slide, as it always does, every season for every team. To sustain this early-season success, Curtis Granderson, David Wright, Lucas Duda and Chris Young will need to be better than they have been.

In the meantime, I’ve been most impressed with how well they’ve run the bases and fielded the ball. They’ve been smart and selective when they advance. In the field, they’ve been decisive and quick. They’re not letting teams take lots of extra bases. This will help calibrate the hitting and pitching. So, as long as it continues, I have faith they will have chances to win, despite who’s hot or not at the plate or on the mound.

“A lot of people are questioning us a little bit. They want to see if you can do it,” Chris Young said about people buying in to the team’s success (ESPN, Apr. 28). “And early on you want to show what the team is capable of. I feel like we’re doing a good job right now.”





124 comments
lindro88
lindro88

Wild card standings? Come on

stage52
stage52

Last year was last year. I do not take anybody's comments comparing past seasons as anything credible.  I have seen too many teams win  the world series that people did not give any chance to win before the season started

72tilltc
72tilltc

As long as Terry is the manager winning will be most difficult. Wins and losses are short term it is the process that counts. Yes the Mets won 2 of 3 but look at the moves leadoff hit down 1 Duda on base. Why not pinch run. Had the left fielder not fallen down Duda is out at home. Last year Terry failed to pinch run or replace Duda with leads for defense and it cost us multiple games. I believe EY is terrible and shouldnt start. However if the manager thinks he is the leadoff hitter in a tie game why would you pinch hit Kirk for him. Now i think Kirk should be starting over EY but where is the logic. He brings in Torres last week in the 8th after he had pitched a ton. His answer was "he is my 8th inning guy" well why did he come in the 6th sat night. I dont think it was a bad move to bring him in infact i would have done it earlier but to say he is my 8th inning guy just confirms he is senile. Terry turns a 3 and 5 homestand into a 1 and 7 and he turns a 7-3 homestand into 6-4. 

Mau Agudelo
Mau Agudelo

Talk to me around the all star break. Lets see if the team upgrades or just stands pay as they always do

bigdirty
bigdirty

Other than getting Grandy and Young on track, the closer spot needs to be upgraded. A  team with 90win asperations needs to have its closer spot locked in. The line between a contender and an ok team is the diffence between a capable closer and an average one. 

pessi_mets
pessi_mets

This isn't just a nice start this season. Since the middle of June last year, up until now, the Mets are 63-58. That's not as bad as a lot of people make this team out to be. Yes, that's with Harvey for a good amount, but Colon is solid (insert joke), and Wheeler is still developing, Gee is consistently good, as with Neise, and hopefully Mejia can stay healthy. Once/if the middle of the order starts to produce, who knows? But 63-58 over 121 games is not bad.

xplr
xplr

Why is it that Matt seems to get excited over the Mets start in 25 games, yet glosses over the weak performance of Grandy

and others during this same time period?


I am excited over the start. however, it's just too short a period to get crazy over. We are 3 games over .500 with a zero run differential, meaning we have scored as many runs as we have given up. Our hitting is last in the league. If you are going to believe that these numbers will improve (which I tend to agree with), you also have to figure that our pitching, especially in the bullpen, is still shaky. Can anyone be really confident in having Dice K or Farnsworth be our closer? 


Still, I always believed this team would be better than last year, which is why I bet the over on 74 wins. You also have DeGrom, Montero and Syndy still ready to make appearances this year. I am hopeful that if the Mets are still in it in June, the Wilpons will actually go out and be buyers in the trade market. 

Joe Paulson
Joe Paulson

The "90 win" line was not a formal announcement or anything but it seems to amount to one because that is what many take it as. If so, it was overblown. I think the usual idea is that you first aim to be .500 and then work from there. That would be +8. 

I think the goal is "winning baseball" (over .500, w/i spitting distance of teams ahead of you) -- that's where they are at now. Keep it up. I do like various things they are doing & it's reassuring that they are doing it with a hard schedule, people struggling, not a credible SS etc.  It means when, e.g., pitching falters, something else can pick up.  


Guarded optimism. Good April. Keep it up. Tweak the team a bit like you did last May etc.

nwmets
nwmets

Dial it back a bit, Cerrone. The higher you get, the farther you have to fall when they start losing....

john smith
john smith

" is a silly option to list since it's not a matter of opinion but a matter of fact.With that many wins at the end of the season it would be impossible for them not to be at least "contenders" for the playoffs.

cmetsfan
cmetsfan

Finally sensible, non extreme cornering poll options! Goodness.

Joseph DeFazio
Joseph DeFazio

I'm just enjoying the wins so far.  Hopefully, by mid-season, Sandy pulls of some type of meaningful trade and I can be excited about watching baseball in September. 

William Truitt
William Truitt

We NEED Troy Tulowitzki! He is the second best bat in all of baseball behind Mike Trout! He is currently on a large contract that will persuade the Rockies to trade him by mid-season if they aren't competing. Also, the Rockies are in some serious need of some starting pitching. I think a trade could work including Rafael Montero, Wilmer Flores, Kevin Plawecki, and Rainy Lara. 


Any comments on this proposal?

Leif Granlind
Leif Granlind

In other news, Ike Davis is 0 for 16 since his Grand Slam on April 21st. Batting .196

metjetnet
metjetnet

Each of the last two seasons, the Mets have played really well in the 1st half, only to fall off a cliff at the All-Star break. But, this year has a few slight wrinkles to it. 

1) Both of the last two 1st-half surges came with a red-hot David Wright, only to have the NL catch up to him in the 2nd half. I take the struggles he's had so far this year as a good sign. This allows him room (& motivation) to punish people in the 2nd half. Plus, even struggling, he's still been quasi-productive, knocking in important runs.

2) This year's surge comes with half the team struggling mightily, as opposed to '11's & '12's early, unsustainable, out-of-body playing levels. This year, there is clearly room to improve team-wide.

3) We have an ace to play that we didn't have the last two years -- the farm system across the board is playing at an insanely high & confident level. The true oddity for this MiLB surge is not the vaunted power arms scattered across the system, but THE BATS! Vegas, St. Lucie, Savannah and, to some extent, Binghamton, they're all bashing the stuffing out of the ball -- complete with scores of exciting come-from-behind wins, mixed in with large crooked number innings, to boot. So, it's clear that the competitiveness & fighting quality that the MLB roster is displaying is mirrored by each of our full-season MiLB teams, as well.

What this means is, if Met roster players DO NOT heat up, or the hot ones trail off, there are now viable, confident, waiting-for-their-shot replacements only a phone call away -- something we haven't had in many, many years!

Sandy has, in fact, made the entire system more competitive, so no one on the MLB or AAA rosters should get comfy, 'cause there are now at least two guys right behind you at your spot, chomping at the bit to take your job. With well-earned mid-season MiLB promotions looming, a great deal of upwards pressure should be reaching Queens by the end of June.

What an exciting luxury!


C Nerrie
C Nerrie

I think one of the most important qualities of a winning team is "finding a way to win," which this team has been doing a lot of. Even Granderson, hitting so poorly, has provided two walk-off wins.

Is it luck? Is it "heart?" I don't know, but it needs to be there in baseball. 

It would also be interesting to know the offensive stats of some clubs that won with great pitching and defense.

Zach Peterson
Zach Peterson

I love this attitude and I think the Mets could suprise some people this year. It's much easier said than done but I think a trade deadline move for some sort of bat would be exactly what this team needs in order to be taken seriously.

MetsFan1962
MetsFan1962

Too early in the season to say we may contend for a playoff spot or better. Our team seems to have more in it to win it attitude right now but lets see if the momentum continues in June. I certainly hope so. . Lets Go Mets!

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

I've been impressed but call me skeptical. The back end of the pen is a train wreck, and the offense has been terrible. There's enough guys in the lineup that either have no hope or have question marks around them that can see to the offense not improving.

Anthony Perez
Anthony Perez

I can't believe how many of you guys are so pessimistic. I've watched every single game so far. I've seen a team with excellent pitching and some pretty good defense on more often than not days as well as timely hitting. Why must most of you people continue to bash them? Either root for your team who is playing well or go watch something else. You must really have no kind of life to come on a teams website who is playing good and have nothing but negative comments.

eavdr10
eavdr10

Shortstop needs to be addressed, and the bullpen as well. We know the pitching can't stay hot forever, but it should be solid. We need a SS. Duda will get the season, no change there as well as the OF. Bullpen and SS are the only places I can see improvement made almost immediately. I would bring the Campbell kid up and send Satin down. We NEED power! Deadline move for a SS, Daisuke to close, Valverde to be released. Maybe sign a Madsen. Hope Granderson figures it out, Wright can play like Wright, CY can provide some power. Maybe, just maybe.

Bill Florian
Bill Florian

The brass cant sit idle and simply hope that things go well. They need to do whatever it takes to get one position player who can make an immediate impact as well as two relievers that can add quality appearances going forward. Standing pat now will generate 74 wins and nothing resembling 90.

dave42
dave42

@72tilltc yes, I wonder if he wasn't self-criticizing actually, knowing that the mistakes he made cost us 2-3 games.  he over-uses bullpen guys until they can't get someone out and then turns to the next guy.  he has this notion that his relievers like Germen and Torres are multi-inning guys when they are clearly most effective 1 at a time.  the fact that Abreu is playing in the field at all is mind-boggling to me.  I am not a Nieuwenhuis fan, but he should definitely play over Abreu and probably over EY (though Young's .340 OBP is certainly good enough to lead off on this team).


that said, you can't manage strictly by the numbers all the time.  you have to show confidence in players and get them playing time or they will never be able to get going.  Terry does a great job of getting the guys to all play hard and buy into what he's talking about.  I remember second-guessing Davey Johnson again and again but when I look back, all he did was win.  Can't have that! 

dave42
dave42

@ifti99 it's what, 6.2 innings?  but I like what I've seen from Matsuzaka out of the pen.  I am not confident in him, but I am more in him than Farnsworth or Valverde.  I'd love it if we got Hanrahan in here. 

Michael Frias
Michael Frias

@ifti99 Simply because Matt is an optimist, not a pessimist.  If you want to read "The Mets are playing well BUT..." articles, read the NY Post.

hankypanky
hankypanky

Forget it. Money talks, which means the Yankees.

tullydew
tullydew

To get Tulo, the trade package has to start w/ Thor & Montero and then add from there.

Anything less the Rockies will just laugh.

pessi_mets
pessi_mets

@William Truitt  I hate seeing Montero's name in trades. I would rather trade Noah, I think Montero will be the better of the three ( Wheeler, Noah, Montero) 


And who knows what COL would want. Tulo would look nice in a Mets uni though.

Bob Giacalone
Bob Giacalone

@William Truitt I think he's going to the Yankees. It's more likely. They'll need a SS for next year and as usual, they'll do whatever they have to do in order to get the team what it needs.

metjetnet
metjetnet

You guys forget that going into '13, this fan base was at its most dispirited, lowest ebb maybe since they formed the franchise -- and I've been here since then, sitting in the Polo Grounds. Everyone from pro analysts to Mets bloggers in Apr. '13 were picking us to challenge the '62 Mets, not the Braves or Nats, saying there was NO reason to go to Sub-Prime Field. The mere fact that we played some exciting ball for stretches of the season was pure fantasy, pure surprise fun & nothing any of us could have predicted.

And no, my comments do not stand as being overblown. There are many both at the MLB level & at AAA who will be w/o jobs by July, due to Sandy's picks & training / teaching methods. 

Think about it: Omar picked good talent, but had perhaps the worst training system in MLB & left these talented guys to figure it all out on their own. Few did. Most of the talent now at AAA & AA (& Queens) are Omar's guys. The cream (Niese, Parnell, Harvey, Duda) are already here, and the rest now fill the bulk of the slots at Vegas & Binghamton. But here come the Savannah & St. Lucie studs (Nimmo, Pawlecky, Rivera, Herrera, Sabol, Pena), mostly all Sandy's guys, picked for & steeped in the singular Sandy approach. They've all been pounding the Sally & FSLs into submission & deserve promotions to the next level. We also have a whole new crop coming in after the draft, to join the ext. Sp. Training guys. Some of those Ext. ST guys will fill A & A+ slots as the guys ripping up the Sally & FSL get promoted, the rest going to various rookie teams. As guys get upped to AA, the current AA rosters have to be promoted to AAA or cut. The same holds for Vegas -- get promoted or get cut to make room. Binghamton already has a number of guys who played well in Sp. Training & should have gone to AAA but had no spots open & have played well, pushing for AAA slots. Push more from underneath & both Binghmton & Vegas guys get pushed & in turn push the marginal guys in Queens -- the strong survive, the struggling do not. We should see a number of trades or releases by late summer. If Dykstra's monster AAA numbers are for real & Duda continues to spin his wheels, what would YOU do? If Soup Campbell continues raking, Q or Satin are vulnerable. Primarily, a number of Omar's picks (den Dekker, Kirk, Satin) -- who have talent but weren't trained well initially are the most vulnerable, as they've all been exposed at the MLB level to have major holes in their games, despite those things they do well. To deny this is drinking the Kool-Aid.

Sandy has brought to the Mets what Itzik has brought to the Jets -- a sense of competition at every position all through the system, which means a serious survival-of-the-fittest culture, where more guys than normal will get their walking papers, whom you wouldn't have thought would be released. 

And in Queens, no, Grandy & the starters aren't going anywhere, but all of the non-Recker bench spots & middle relief roles are a numbers game & are up for grabs.

For a from-the-beginning guy, this is so exciting to watch play itself out...

Pete Brilvitch
Pete Brilvitch

@metjetnet Mets played well in the first half last year??? They were 41-50 at the all-star break. At one point, they were 15 games under .500. You are correct in that the farm system is much deeper than in past years. They have better options in case of injury and actually have players that can be dealt for a potential impact bat. They even have guys who may be able to come up and help in the pen. They didn't have that in past seasons.

Bob G
Bob G

@metjetnet  Yes, Sandy has helped the farm system but lets not party to hardy yet. Lots of guys play well in the minors, especially at low levels and never make it to the major leagues. Some of these guys may be 3 years away so they're not coming to Flushing this year. Typically early in the year pitchers are ahead of hitters while the weather is still cold. This starts to change Mid-May to June when the Mets typically take take their dive. This pitching staff is good and has the potential to be very good but we're not winning many games in the summer time scoring 2 or 3 runs. Let's be optimistic but realistic. There's still a long way to go for this team to be a legitimate contender.

William Truitt
William Truitt

@metjetnet  Actually, last season, the Mets were terrible in the beginning and ended the season playing .500 for the final 100 games.

Bob G
Bob G

@Victor Triguero  As usual I agree. Typically pitchers are ahead of hitters this time of year. The Mets tend to swoon Mid to late May when the hitting catches up and you're no longer winning games by scoring 3 runs. No "playoff" hysteria yet folks. 

Bob G
Bob G

@Anthony Perez  Are you older than 25? If not, you haven't been around long enough to understand the pessimism. Ever hear of Frank Taveras or Don Hahn? I'd guess not. The season is 4 weeks old. The pitching is good…right now but there are 137 games to go. The good hitting teams will hit when the weather warms. Let's see how we're playing in June…then start to get excited...

nwmets
nwmets

@Anthony Perez  Because after all, this fan base has no reason to be pessimistic, right?


Please -- can we get real for a few minutes?

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

I'm still pessimistic despite actually looking forward to games right now each day. There are so many holes on the current team that reality says this isn't going to continue.

As a fan, take it one day at a time and enjoy it. As management...make the team better.

Pete Brilvitch
Pete Brilvitch

@eavdr10 To be honest, I don't think the offense improves all that much even if you sign Drew or trade for one of the often mentioned shortstops. I think you can live with Tejeda as long as he continues to play well defensively and you acquire an impact bat. Unfortunately, impact bats generally don't become available until the trading deadline.

anymos
anymos

@Bill Florian You guys are nuts.  Where do you all think these fictional players are coming from?  You think some team is chomping at the bit right now to deal an impact position player?  Or there's some team out there with excess arms in their bullpen that they are willing to trade?  Its not even May, no one is trading anyone.  Closer to the trade deadline we'll know exactly what this Met team is- and we'll know who the other buyers and sellers are.  That's when trades will happen.  Unless you'd really prefer Sandy puts out APB to all the other GMs for a bat RIGHT NOW, because sounding really desperate is always a good negotiating tact.

happyrecap
happyrecap

Two of your top pitching prospects for a bloated contract on an older player ... "to start"?

Whatever you're smoking give it a rest. Baseball today places top value on pitching prospects like that!

Besides, Tulo is probably going nowhere. If the spankees get him you can bet it'll be for the usual overhyped prospects and bag of peanuts!

Joe Paulson
Joe Paulson

@William Truitt @metjetnetYes, it is notable that last year the drop-off that was a tradition the last few years in fact came later -- sometime in mid or late August. Not merely the "All Star Break."


I would note that though the person's comments besides that are good, they are a tad overblown. A few players -- like Granderson -- aren't going anywhere. Also, I'm not sure if people are really ready at each position. Who is ready, e.g., at 1B and SS?

eavdr10
eavdr10

@Pete Brilvitch @eavdr10 would be great, but I don't really see a spot that they would put this bat other than SS. I think this is the OF that we are going to see all year. I think they will give Duda the entire year to see what he can do. the only position I think they would consider is SS

Richard
Richard

Well there are a couple free agents still. Drew and Morales who could play first and SS. But you could debate how much they would help and how much they would cost because you know Boris won't discount them. Personally, I don't care how much they cost if they help us win, I want them. But the Wilpon's don't have the money to spend such is the life of the Mets fan!

kefhrny17
kefhrny17

@willkeesee, TC is a bonehead and a terrible manager... I'm not sure what "Terry turns a 3 and 5 homestand into a 1 and 7 and he turns a 7-3 homestand into 6-4" means, but terry is a terrible manager.

happyrecap
happyrecap

Maybe Allan Dykstra?

Can't help at SS though!

Bob G
Bob G

@Joe Paulson @Bob G @Anthony Perez  Because losing with the Mets has come in more than one 8 year cycle. Except for the miracle in 69 and an over achieving team in 73 most of the Mets teams have been pretty bad with the exception of the 84-89 period when we had a competitive team for a number of years. If you're only 25, you've only seen one cycle.

Pete Brilvitch
Pete Brilvitch

@eavdr10 @Pete Brilvitch I don't think an impact bat necessarily has to come at SS, although Tulo would definitely fit the bill. For example, if an impact bat at 1B became available, I think you'd see the commitment to Duda ending quickly. You could also look  to acquire an impact bat at other positions as long as Sandy is creative in moving who he presently has.

Richard
Richard

Hey the guy asked where do we get these fictional players from and I offered some players that are available. I know we aren't getting either of them because they will cost the Mets something they don't have, which is money. And their is a reason why they are still available - draft picks and money, if the Met only had to pay them league minimum, they would be on the team already. And you would be posting something like how hard is it to accept that Duda is in the minor leagues.

anymos
anymos

@Richard Drew is not an impact bat and no team wants to touch him until it won't cost them compensation.  And Duda has not been a problem offensively- so why rush out to sign Morales?