Thursday, March 14, 2024

Why We're Not Writing a Season Prediction Piece

We're not in the prediction game here at Mike's Mets, but we are looking forward to a fascinating — and likely pivotal — 2024 season.

I'm not into writing preview posts full of predictions for an upcoming season. I did them for a while on the previous version of this blog, which ran from 2005-2009. I didn't like making predictions even then, but I felt I had to. The local papers and many other blogs covering the Mets all did them. I guess I thought it was part of the "job" of covering a team. Eventually, it finally dawned on me that there was nothing that I had to do as long as I wasn't receiving a paycheck. These days, I only write about things that matter to me, and I find that I do a much better job sticking to that philosophy for myself and my readers.

My feelings aside, it won't be long before bold predictions for the fate of the 2024 Mets start appearing. We're only two weeks away from baseball that counts. With all due respect to the efforts of the many excellent writers producing them for their respective publications, in addition to avoiding composing my own forecast piece, I won't be reading your predictions, either. They're all formulaic and usually completely erroneous. It's essentially the baseball equivalent of handing money to a fortune teller and expecting anything of value in return. If you were to save a bunch of these to read after the season, it would be shocking how wrong they all turn out. That's not the writer's fault. Nobody can foresee a fraction of the twists and turns a long MLB season will take.

Don't get me wrong. In some past seasons, it was easy to successfully prognosticate where the Mets would end up in the fall, at least as far as their win-loss totals. The teams were so bad that there was no way they would avoid losing around 90 games, skulking around the bottom of the NL East standings all season. It got more challenging when the team looked pretty good — a couple of injuries or underperformance could cost that club in the standings, particularly when the Mets broke camp with little depth to overcome those challenges.

Even some of the best Mets teams could be undermined by an avalanche of misfortune. The 1987 Mets were clearly still the class of MLB, but Dwight Gooden tested positive for cocaine before the season even started, and then injuries to key players piled up. The Mets watched the playoffs at home in those pre-Wild Card days. Then they made it back to the playoffs the following season, only to lose to an inferior Dodgers team in the NLDS. Such is baseball.

Although I avoid predictions, I can confidently state that the 2024 Mets are unlikely to end up either God-awful or the class of the NL. They could conceivably have a great year if a celestial being sprinkled the same stardust upon them that landed on the 2021 San Francisco Giants, who won 107 games after enduring four consecutive losing seasons. Quite unlikely, of course, and I wouldn't want the Mets to emulate those Giants, anyway. They fell back to earth in 2022 and 2023, with 81- and 79-win campaigns, respectively.

Under new PBO David Stearns, the Mets have assembled a deep roster that should allow them to avoid a disastrous season in a repeat of last year. Indeed, it could happen if they have really lousy luck. They've already lost their best pitcher, Kodai Senga, to begin the season. The rest of the rotation is full of question marks.

Meanwhile, the pitchers they assembled for the bullpen beyond Edwin Díaz look interesting, but they also have much to prove. And the offense, at least so far this spring, looks not-so-great. The 2024 Mets are going to have to be able to win some low-scoring games this year if they are truly to contend. It's a good thing that Stearns has assembled some outstanding defensive players because this Mets team simply can't afford to give away too many runs.

Much has been made of the Mets avoiding signing a "name" pitcher like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery. I completely get it. It's hard to bet on getting a full and effective season from Luis Severino and Sean Manaea. And every time I read something about the Mets' pitching prospects closest to MLB, there always seem to be quotes from scouts or unnamed execs on how none of them are seen as top-of-the-rotation guys. Fans love to see that big horse running out there every fifth day. It's why the Mets gambled (and lost) so much last season, betting on Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

Of course, neither of those two guys is beginning the season healthy. Fortunately, Scherzer won't be lonely on the Texas Rangers' DL. He has former Mets ace Jacob deGrom to keep him company. If those guys want to kill time with a card game, they can call Gerrit Cole or Lucas Giolito. Yeah, it's great to have that horse under contract or even a proven innings eater like Giolito — until they get hurt. 

It's not that I don't believe the Mets won't be aggressive in the future in chasing premium starting pitching. They went aggressively after Yoshinobu Yamamoto this past winter. But I no longer believe investing heavily in years and money for starting pitchers in their thirties is the smart way to build a roster. I mean, I miss the electricity of a deGrom start, but I don't miss those constant trips to the IL in 2021 and 2022. I don't miss Jake coming up way short of what the Mets needed in Atlanta in the final week of the 2022 season. And I'm not sorry that it's the Rangers and not the Mets paying deGrom big bucks to rehab from his second Tommy John surgery.

Speaking of that final week in Atlanta in 2022 and the ensuing Wild Card round against the Padres, it wasn't just deGrom who disappointed. Scherzer and Chris Bassitt, who was brought in for games like that, also came up short against the Braves. And while deGrom redeemed himself against the Padres, Max and Bassitt were even worse in that Wild Card series, virtually giving the Mets no chance in Game 1 and Game 3.

I see the Mets in future seasons building a starting pitching staff of good, if not quite elite, young pitchers. We've been hearing good stuff about that pitching lab down in St. Lucie. None of the current starting pitching prospects, Christian ScottDom HamelTyler Stuart, Mike Vasil, Blade Tidwell, and Brandon Sproat, look like future Cy Young winners, but they all look interesting. The Mets have made significant progress in their organizational pitching development. I'm very hopeful that some of that group can be effective starters or even relievers for the Mets. And we're seeing some promising signs this spring that Tylor Megill might be taking a step forward into being the decent pitcher we've seen glimpses of these last few years.

I'd like the Mets to take a huge step forward in constructing bullpens. If they can build out some quality depth in their reliever corps — and show facility in finding arms and helping them be successful — they can conceivably do much better in today's game, where starting pitchers are no longer asked to provide more than 200 innings. Although, as previously stated, I avoid predictions, I can foresee a future where the Mets don't chase elite free agent starting pitchers already in their 30s, hand them 9-figure contracts, and then wait around for the almost inevitable injuries to crop up.

Look, it's fun to see a potential Hall of Famer take the mound every fifth day, but that's not the only way to build a pitching staff. I think the 2024 Mets mound crew will be a fascinating watch this upcoming season, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.


A quick note here. I saw a piece on that didn't sit well with me. The author, Jimmy Traina, wrote a piece defending another reporter trying to get Gerrit Cole to answer a question while the injured pitcher was walking through an airport. I thought Traina actually made some good points with his arguments, but this struck me as really weak:
Nobody is going to like this take and I'm gonna get beat up about it pretty good, but I'm just gonna throw it out there and then I'll mute everyone who sends me a nasty message about it on X (formerly Twitter), but I will stand by everything I write here.
With all due respect, Mr. Traina, muting everyone who sends you a nasty message on Twitter (Sorry, Elon, but X is a stupid name) is hardly standing behind what you write. isn't the most high-profile site on the Web, but I still get my share of nasty stuff in the comments or on Twitter.

Unless someone goes way out of line (threats or truly offensive language), I don't mute them, block them, or anything like that. Even if, as is too often the case, the person saying the bad stuff didn't even react to something that I wrote, but something they thought I wrote because they couldn't get themselves to read what I actually said. It's frustrating at times and not always fair, but it's part of the deal of making strong points in a public forum.

Threatening to mute people before you make your point and "throw it out there" is pretty weak. It's not at all "stand[ing] by everything [you] write. Too many folks with a public platform worry too much about muting or blocking critics. I'm not a free speech absolutist by any means, but if you write for the public, put those rabbit ears away.


Before I end today's post, I'd like to send my prayers to Darryl Strawberry, one of my all-time favorite New York Mets, and his family. I hope he completely recovers and gets back to his ministry as soon as possible. I'm looking forward to the ceremony when the Mets retire his number this June.

Be well and take care.

Follow Mike's Mets on social media:

 Follow us on Twitter @MikeSteffanos.
 Follow Mike's Mets on Facebook @MikesMetsBlog.
         Follow me on Instagram @MikeSteffanos.
         Follow me on Threads @MikeSteffanos.
         Follow Mike's Mets on Spoutible @MikeSteffanos.
         Follow us on Mastodon
         Follow us on Post News @MikesMets.
         Follow us on Tribel @Mikes_Mets.
         Follow us on Bluesky

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Defense Doesn't Rest

A renewed emphasis on defense would be a good thing for the New York Mets. Mike Vaccaro had an interesting column in the New York Post  abou...