Bearcat Prowl: Mets acquire Cespedes and Clippard in pursuit of October baseball
Following some trade deadline upgrades, the New York Mets have put together a number of winning streaks to jump into first place of the National League East. The Mets were able to add power slugger Yoenis Cespedes in a last minute deal with the Tigers, while nabbing solid utility players in Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and Tyler Clippard from trades with the Atlanta Braves and Oakland Athletics.
The Mets got significantly better without having to sacrifice young talents Zach Wheeler or Wilmer Flores, who have openly expressed their desire to be part of the up-and-coming organization.
By addressing the lack of run-producing hitters, the Mets have brought in support for their young and dominant pitching staff. Their lineup oozes with talent. Expected to be a 2016 contender, the Mets have forced themselves into this year’s discussion as potential favorites to win the World Series.
General manager Sandy Alderson and coach Terry Collins displayed patience with the development of the Mets farm system, refusing to trade younger assets for quick fixes and riding themselves of veterans like R.A Dickey in order to add more pieces for the future. Their young pitching staff has yet to ripen fully, and they are already viewed as one of the most dangerous cores in the MLB. Equally important are Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud, young starters hungry to prove they are here for the long term.
The Nationals, the team the Mets are contending with for the East, improved their bullpen with the addition of Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies.
And with the emergence of Drew Storen, the Nationals’ pitching staff is only stronger. The organization is hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s playoff meltdown. Their losing record since the trade deadline has given Mets fans more reason to believe that this year will be the time for the Mets to go on a Cinderella playoff run.
In the Fall of 2006, fans were fantasizing over the fact that the Mets were the underdogs to win the World Series. Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine anchored a pitching staff that was equally effective as an offense that included a young and speedy Jose Reyes and clutch power hitters in Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran. Stacked with a blend of youth and veteran depth, the Mets were becoming the league’s must-watch team. Unfortunately, they were unable to put the pieces together despite a mesmerizing catch by Endy Chavez in the final game of the National League Championship Series. With the playoffs approaching, the Mets may have enough momentum to break a nine-year drought in Flushing, Queens.
The Mets have not been in the World Series since 2000, when the Yankees continued to prove they were the dominant New York franchise. While the Yankees have managed to put together a solid season this year, they have lost grip on first place due to their poor recent play. Not helping the Yankees’ cause, the Toronto Blue Jays caught fire after a couple of their own blockbuster trades. The Jays added David Price and coveted shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
The Mets have become the feel-good story of the 2015 season, much like the Kansas City Royals of 2014. They have managed to nurture their homegrown talent to become one of the scariest pitching rotations in the MLB. Ranked second in the league in ERA, the Metropolitans make fans believe that they can win any pitching matchup with a rotation that has gone six arms deep at one point of the season. In a best-of-seven series in the playoffs, the Mets have the depth to tailor any pitching matchup to their advantage.
A possible first-round matchup for the Mets would be the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although the Dodgers own a slightly better winning percentage this season, the Mets have won a three-game series and split a four-game series against them. While Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw promise tough rubber matchups for starters like Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, the Dodgers simply will not have an answer for Steven Matz, who is coming back from injury in September, and hard-throwing Noah Syndergaard.
Earlier this year, DeGrom and Syndergaard proved they could hang with baseball’s best, outdueling both Greinke and Kershaw. In a best-of-five series, the Dodgers may not be able to keep up with the Fantastic Four.
Unless the Chicago Cubs or Pittsburgh Pirates pull an upset against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets will be faced with their biggest challenge in the National League Championship Series—if they make it that far. St. Louis possesses the pitching depth to match up against the Mets with talents like Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, who are having breakout seasons. Featuring players like Jason Heyward and Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals have a lineup loaded with power that will test how crafty the Mets pitching staff can be in the playoffs.
The new additions to the Mets lineup will be key components to whether they will be able to make it to the World Series. Cespedes and Uribe will be sure to continue their contributions, but the Mets will also turn to familiar bats in Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda to round out the lineup. Ultimately, if David Wright can return from injury and sync with an offense that seems to have found their stride, the Mets will have the power to edge out the Cardinals.
With extended rest in the playoffs, Collins will have the option to trim his starting rotation to Harvey, DeGrom, Syndergaard and Matz, ultimately removing Bartolo Colon as a liability. Colon will still be able to provide veteran leadership for these young pitchers, and if he can turn back the clock like he seems to be capable of doing, he can be as dominant as he was with the Anaheim Angels.
The Mets are on the rise, and no team wants to face them down the stretch. Whether they make it to the Promised Land this year or fall short, the Mets will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. They surely posses the star power to do something that has not been done in Flushing since the days of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.
It is time to win it all.