SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Conor Gillaspie was the reason the Cubs headed to San Francisco instead of New York for last year’s division series. Gillaspie, whose bat usually scares no one, hit a three-run homer to win the wild-card game for the Giants and then he tormented the Cubs in the NLDS (6-for-15).
But this article isn’t about Gillaspie, it’s about a team that reacted to that wild-card loss by doing... not much of anything, except re-signing its own free agents, particularly Yoenis Cespedes, who had an opt-out. The four-year, $110 million deal the Mets lavished on Cespedes reportedly includes a full no-trade clause, so clearly they hope he can help lead an offense that finished 12th in the N.L. in runs to better things.
What the Mets really hope will be better for them is their pitching. Only one pitcher returning to this year’s staff had 30+ starts for the Mets in 2016, Noah Syndergaard. Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey, supposed to all be the next big thing in New York, combined for only 63 starts and Harvey, the putative ace, had a 4.60 ERA before his season was shut down.
If those guys are healthy all year? Well, the Mets could win the N.L. East. If not? They’ll battle for the wild card again.
The Mets’ fifth starter is Robert Gsellman, who I might not even bother mentioning here except for this interesting article about how an injury to Gsellman’s non-throwing arm made it almost literally impossible for him to hit last year, and that the Mets managed to hide this injury for quite some time. (And he got a hit anyway.)
The same cast comes back, with the big question mark being David Wright, who had neck surgery that wrecked most of his 2016 season. He has just started a throwing program; whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day is still an open question.
The Mets tried all winter to trade Jay Bruce but found no takers, at least not for what they were asking. Bruce’s production has fallen off. He turns 30 on Opening Day and if the Mets fall out of contention you can rest assured they will try again to trade him. He’s a free agent after this year.
The only new face I can find that the Mets have brought in to compete for a spot is former Cub Tom Gorzelanny, who’ll try to hang on as a LOOGY. His last good year was in 2014 with the Brewers and he was pretty bad last year, so this might be the last gasp. I mention him only because the Mets really didn’t do anything else, hoping that getting their pitching staff back together would fix things.
It might. Stay tuned.
Cubs vs. Mets in 2017:
June 12-13-14 at New York
September 12-13-14 at Wrigley