PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- There may be no team in baseball with a wider set of possible outcomes than the Mets. Two years ago, they won 87 games en route to a Wild Card berth. Last year, they lost 92 with a nearly identical cast of characters.While both extremes
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- There may be no team in baseball with a wider set of possible outcomes than the Mets. Two years ago, they won 87 games en route to a Wild Card berth. Last year, they lost 92 with a nearly identical cast of characters.
While both extremes -- and everything in between -- are possible for the 2018 Mets, the club has taken steps to avoid a repeat of last summer. New manager Mickey Callaway and a revamped medical staff were focal points of New York's offseason; using those hirings to increase productivity on the field is now the Mets' charge.
How will they fare? Only time will tell. But it's clear the Mets have a plan in place to avoid what happened in 2017.
What's the goal?
When the Mets made the World Series ahead of schedule in 2015, they believed their window of contention was only just opening. An unceasing run of injuries has since tempered expectations, but as long as Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are in the picture, the Mets feel they possess a team strong enough to compete.
While team officials are realistic enough to know the Nationals won't easily be toppled in the NL East, the expectation in Flushing is an NL Wild Card berth at minimum. Should they make MLB's annual October tournament, the Mets know, their pitching can overwhelm anyone.
What's the plan?
Entering this offseason with their key pitching cogs already in place, the Mets focused on revamping their medical staff and practices. Their hope is that a commitment to health will allow them to coax full seasons outs of Syndergaard, deGrom and others. The Mets also added depth early in Spring Training, signing Jason Vargas to a two-year deal to stabilize the middle of the rotation, though he will miss some time due to a fracture in his right hand. And they will rely on Callaway to put all of his pitchers -- including those in a fortified bullpen -- in the best position to succeed.
Offensively, the Mets needed to round out their roster after dealing away several key pieces last summer. They did so with Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier, their likely Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, as well as lesser-heralded signing Adrian Gonzalez. The hope is that that group can gel around Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto, both of whom the Mets consider potential NL Most Valuable Player Award candidates despite their health issues.
What could go wrong?
Injuries, same as last year. There is no better predictor of future injury than past injury, and the Mets have plenty of risk factors in Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Cespedes, Conforto, Gonzalez, David Wright (who has already suffered a setback) … the list goes on. The Mets don't need all of those players to stay healthy this season, but they are relying on most of them to.
Who might surprise?
The Mets' top prospect last season, Amed Rosario, has spent this spring flying almost criminally under the radar. With skills across the board, there's no reason why, at age 22, he can't break out to become one of the best shortstops in baseball.
Someone turning more heads than Rosario this spring is outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who may be in the process of leapfrogging Juan Lagares on the depth chart. If Nimmo can receive regular playing time, he could develop into the type of dynamic leadoff hitter the Mets have lacked for years.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.