NEW YORK -- For the second straight season, the Mets entered 2017 with outsized expectations and dreams of playoff grandeur. For the second straight season, injuries and other issues derailed them -- though this time, the Mets could not recover.Instead, 2017 turned into a disappointment for the Mets, who dropped
NEW YORK -- For the second straight season, the Mets entered 2017 with outsized expectations and dreams of playoff grandeur. For the second straight season, injuries and other issues derailed them -- though this time, the Mets could not recover.
Instead, 2017 turned into a disappointment for the Mets, who dropped from second to fourth place in the National League East, staying out of contention for most of the summer. There were still plenty of bright spots, as there were during the Mets' injury-riddled 2016 season. But the dark patches that began surfacing in Spring Training overshadowed everything.
With that in mind as the year draws to a close, here is a look back at the top five storylines for the Mets in 2017:
Seemingly no one was immune from the rash of injuries that consumed the Mets in 2017. Yoenis Cespedes battled muscle pulls throughout the summer, exacerbating the issue as he tried to rush back to the field. Noah Syndergaard endured biceps soreness in April, refused to undergo an MRI and wound up tearing his lat, missing four months. Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler retained their reputations as injury-prone pitchers. Seth Lugo pitched brilliantly in the World Baseball Classic but wound up with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Jeurys Familia suffered a blood clot in his right shoulder and underwent surgery. David Wright was unable to make it onto the field at all after missing most of the previous two seasons to injury. The list went on and on.
After the season, the Mets began making wholesale changes to their training staff, dismissing head trainer Ray Ramirez and beginning a hiring spree in that department. Their hope is that their injury issues will soon become a thing of the past.
A pair of stars shines in Queens
Not everyone in orange and blue stepped backward in 2017. Initially confined to the bench, Michael Conforto bulled his way into an everyday role, hitting 14 home runs in the first half to make his first All-Star Game. Conforto did, however, injure his left shoulder in August, undergoing surgery. He is questionable to be ready for Opening Day.
One of two Mets who avoided the disabled list the entire season, Jacob deGrom enjoyed one of his best seasons as a professional, finishing 15-10 with a 3.53 ERA to earn an eighth-place finish in NL Cy Young Award voting. From June 12 through July 24, deGrom won eight consecutive starts, posting a 1.61 ERA while allowing no more than one run in six of those games.
When it became clear around midsummer that the Mets were not going to compete for their third straight postseason berth, general manager Sandy Alderson went to work. Over the course of about a month, Alderson traded away first baseman Lucas Duda, second baseman Neil Walker, outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson and setup man Addison Reed, all of them pending free agents. In exchange, the Mets received a cadre of young, hard-throwing relievers and a measure of salary relief.
Not since trading Carlos Beltran for Wheeler in 2011 were the Mets such significant midseason sellers. Of the players they dealt away, all but Duda and Walker went on to appear in the postseason. Granderson -- though he didn't make the Dodgers' Fall Classic roster -- even advanced to his second World Series in three seasons.
The kids are all right
One byproduct of the Mets' injuries and trades was that they no longer had reason to keep their top two prospects, shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith, confined to the Minors. Rosario made his big league debut in the Mets' first game following the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Smith arrived a week later.
On the night of Smith's debut, Rosario hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning to give the Mets a win over the Phillies. Although both players struggled at times down the stretch -- Rosario battled injuries and Smith hit just .198 in 48 games -- both also showed signs of what scouts had long predicted for them.
As such, both players figure to take on important roles for the Mets in 2017. Rosario is slotted as the team's Opening Day shortstop, and while the Mets aren't quite as committed to Smith in the short term, he is almost certain to log significant time over the course of the summer.
So long, skipper
When Terry Collins became the longest-tenured manager in Mets history in May, managing his 1,013th game to surpass Davey Johnson, he spoke about what an "honor" it was to last that long in a job he never anticipated keeping for more than a few years. The author of the Mets' World Series run in 2015, Collins won more games than anyone in Mets history other than Johnson.
But he could not survive the Mets' tumultuous 2017 season, his seventh at the helm. Amid rampant speculation that the Mets were ready to part ways with him, Collins resigned following the season's final game, taking a job as a consultant in the front office.
About a month later, the Mets hired Mickey Callaway to be their 21st manager. Armed with several new staff members, including pitching coach Dave Eiland, Callaway's charge is to lead the Mets back to the playoffs following their disappointing 2017.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.