According to the latest odds posted by the gurus in Las Vegas, the Mets are 20-1 favorites to win the 2018 World Series, which doesn’t sound like much but it puts them in the top ten of all teams to accomplish the feat. Do they know something we don’t know?
Fans of the Mets and the world of baseball know the World Series is over and it’s time to turn attention to the 2018 season. Already teams are changing managers, setting up their 40-man rosters, and reviewing budgets and payrolls for the upcoming season. Free agent signings are already being tracked by Spotrac and a host of others. Optimism on a better season prevails and the cup is more than half full for most teams.
Oddsmakers put the Yankees as a 8-1 favorite to win the World Series, but why would that raise any eyebrows with the wealth of young talent on their current roster with more coming in the near future, as showcased in the Arizona Fall League as this is written.
But the Mets? How is it possible the oddsmakers, who let’s face it are not in the business of losing money, rate the team so high? Are we missing something, because the prevailing notion about the Mets is that they are in a “rebuilding” stage and not quite ready for prime time.
The organization brought in a new manager to replace Terry Collins with no previous ties to the Mets and zero managerial experience. A gutsy but risky move. Mickey Calloway, according to Las Vegas, gets not even a year to prove his value to the team. And in the overall scheme of things in Metland, that could spell trouble when he is faced with being one of ten teams out of thirty overall when his team is placed ahead of other formidable teams like the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Angels, and others.
But maybe, just maybe, the Vegas oddsmakers are on to something. The Mets do have two of the best starting pitchers in baseball, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. And with the always needed caveat, barring injury, the two of them could account for 35 wins as well as 20 more quality starts of six or more innings the bullpen could turn into wins for the Mets.
That’s 55 wins right there, without adding in the contributions of the team’s wild card this season, Matt Harvey. Harvey can’t be as bad as he has been again. Or so, the prevailing odds would tend to believe. In the Mets favor is also that Harvey is in his final season before entering free agency. It’s a do or die season and the motivation for Harvey’s upside to capture the moment works for the Mets, who may or may not have an interest in Harvey for the 2019 season.
Ditto Steven Matz, who is nowhere near free agency but has the same pedigree of Harvey in delivering consecutive disappointing seasons riddled with injuries. Matz is building a reputation, real or not, for being “soft” when it comes to pitching through pain, putting him in a do or die situation this season as the Mets give him one last chance to prove himself as a reliable major league pitcher.
From there, the team looks to Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman to fill out the fifth spot. Or better yet, Sandy Alderson makes a move trading two of these three for an innings eater like Lance Lynn.
So, if you are a believer in the baseball axiom that it all starts with pitching, there is substance to the claims of Vegas that the Mets have the ability to surprise in 2018. Having said that, though, the bullpen needs an overhaul and again, that falls under the bailiwick of Alderson to make those improvements over the winter.
Clearly, the Mets are not the Houston Astros with run production spread from the top to bottom in their lineup. And they’ll need to make up for the loss of both Lucas Duda and Jay Bruce. But if Calloway can establish a relationship with Yeonis Cespedes that brings forth all he is capable of delivering, complemented by Michael Conforto, with Ahmed Rosario being the catalyst at the top of the lineup, the Mets can score enough runs to compete.
As with any team, the stars need to align perfectly to produce a run for a championship. The NL East is there for the taking with the Washington Nationals having their own set of internal problems and their fifth manager in fourteen years.
The question, though, is are the Mets ready for prime time as Las Vegas seems to think. It will be a fun season if the oddsmakers are right.