By Joseph Staszewski
Mets fans, get used to this.
The Metropolitans gave you a look on Opening Day of what the 2014 club could be and it should give supporters cause for concern. The Amazins’ received an above average start from Dylan Gee, hit three home runs, struck out 18 times and watched the bullpen implode in a disappointing 9-7 loss to the Washington Nationals at Citi Field Monday.
The Mets made improvements from 2013, but they were minor ones at best with the addition of outfielders Curtis Granderson and Chris Young, former Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde and veteran starter Bartolo Colon.
Not enough was done to truly justify General Manager Sandy Alderson’s expectation of a jump from 74 wins to 90. Still, I applaud him for at least trying to raise the bar of mediocrity in Flushing.
The Mets have more power in their batting order with Granderson, Wright and Young, who missed Opening Day with a right quad strain. They also raise the team’s propensity for strikeouts, and that’s even before we consider Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Rubin Tejada. Granderson, Wright and Young were fanned a combined 446 times in their last injury-free seasons.
The Mets’ starting pitching will do enough to keep them in games despite the loss of ace Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery. I have confidence in putting Zach Wheeler, Gee, Colon, Jenrry Mejia and a healthy John Niese on the mound. Top prospects Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are still in the minor league.
Whether the bullpen can hold on to leads for them is the issue. Opening Day didn’t provided a vote of confidence outside a strong outing from Valverde in the setup role and closer Bobby Parnell being a close call away on a pitch to Danny Espinosa from ending things in the ninth.
The Mets bullpen allowed five runs and walked four in 3 1/3 innings of work. These are mostly guys from the same relieving core that suffered 31 losses in 2013, tied for the fifth most in the majors.
Opening Day is one game. You should never overact, but based on players’ past histories, it gave us a picture of the worst-case scenario for the Mets this season.
There is still time to improve but are there enough resources?
The Mets payroll is $74 million, 22nd out of 30 Major League teams. The small-market Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates are all spending more.
If you are the Mets, you can try to squeeze the most out of what you have, but more often than not you get what you pay for.