You probably read the headline and thought, "Wow, this guy is some delusional Mets fan." Well, I'm not going to lie to you, that is 100 percent true. I am a proud Mets fan, and at times I can be delusional, seeing how it is basically impossible to be a Mets fan if you aren't at least somewhat messed up in the head.
That being said, every April brings the beginning of a new season, a 0-0 record, and a ton of hope for fans of every team.
In the past few years I have felt that the Mets have had a team capable of being as good as any other and have only gone on to see them fail. This futility in the past is what has led to all this current negativity surrounding a team, that although seemingly similar to previous teams, is in many ways far different from the squads that broke Mets fans' hearts the past four seasons.
So yes, it is true, I am a bit delusional. However, there is a legitimate reason for hope.
In the recent years, Mets fans have been accustomed to having managers that rarely showed emotion. Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel would stare blankly during the game, their thoughts concealed from any one else. After games Manuel would talk to the media in the same dry, solemn tone no matter if they won or lost. He would look exhausted, exasperated, like he should have been asleep hours ago.
With Terry Collins, you have the exact opposite. People consider him to be a player's manager. He communicates well. He shouts, he screams, he claps. In other words, he is the type of manager that a player wants to work hard for and it is no secret that a lot of the players in Mets camp have expressed their positive feelings towards the new management.
With this new face in the dugout, there is a new feeling towards this team. The Mets are sick of losing, and Collins is the right man to take them out of the failing mindset.
The Mets also have hired a new hitting coach to replace Howard Johnson. Since the team struggled on offense last year, they decided to go with Dave Hudgens, who players have taken well to during spring training.
One of the most overlooked categories in baseball is speed and running the bases. With players like Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan and David Wright, the Mets will be stealing a lot of bases this season. Last year those three combined for 86 stolen bases, and all three were in the top 36 in all of Major League Baseball. Jason Bay also had 10 stolen bases last year in a season that was cut short in July. They have a good veteran core of players that are still very capable of running the bases.
During the offseason after the team hired Sandy Alderson as the new General Manager, and all fans kept hearing about this winter were about these small contract players signings. Most Met fans are used to offseasons where Pedro Martinez or Johan Santana would be putting on a Mets uniform. However, in mid-January, the Mets held a press conference to welcome their newly acquired utility infielder, Chin Lung-Hu. However, he was just a small piece of what the Mets put together over the offseason. They got great outfield depth with players like Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, both of whom have tremendous experience.
In the bullpen they have a deep set of arms featuring Tim Byrdak, Blaine Boyer, Taylor Bucholtz and D.J. Carrasco, all of whom will help get the ball to Francisco Rodriguez, who is back this season.
On the infield, Hu (although you won't see him on first) does play every other infield position, along with the now-healthy Daniel Murphy will be available.
Catching will be Josh Thole. Mike Nickeaus will be the backup to start the season, and Ronny Paulino will backup after he serves the remaining eight games of a 50 game suspension he had last season with the Marlins.
If spring training is any indication, Francisco Rodriguez is back and ready to go. After suffering an injury in a fight with his girlfriend's father following a game last August, it appears as if Rodriguez has put the past behind him and is ready to return to the form that led him to the single-season saves record year that he had in Anaheim.
In 10.2 innings this spring training he has not allowed a run, and has given up just six hits. Batters are hitting just .192 against him, and he has saved one game for them in one opportunity. He has 13 strikeouts and just four walks.
Last season Jason Bay was a total non-factor for the Mets. He gave the team no production (just six home runs) and then suffered a concussion in July and had to miss the rest of the year after the team failed to notice his ailments immediately. One of the reasons for his struggles last season was that he was being over-coached. Everyone was telling him different ways to tweak his swing. This season, he is back to what made him successful when he was with Pittsburgh and Boston.
If he can stay healthy, he believes he will be able to hit near 20-30 home runs like he did before he became a Met.
NOTE: Jason Bay will likely start his season on the disabled list with an injury in his rib-cage and play his first game on April 9.
I think that all Mets fans can agree on one thing. Omar Minaya was not a successful general manager. That does not mean he wasn't good. He put together the majority of the team that the Mets have today. That being said, he is also the reason the Mets have 18 million dollars going to Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo this season, both of whom have been cut from the roster.
Sandy Alderson comes in here with experience in MLB baseball when he worked with the Athletics and the Padres, and he most recently was working with players in Latin America.
He is a moneyball man, which is much different than the type of money ball Minaya did which was throw money at players that could play ball. With Alderson, it is all about value and potential, and finding players that make a team. This was never something the Mets did.
He has also hired as his assistants two other moneyballers, Paul Depodesta and J.P. Ricciardi.
Since Jayson Werth left Philadelphia to go to Washington, the Phillies lineup is way too lefty-crowded and way too old.
The Mets on the other hand have great balance in their lineup including three switch hitters.
They have one of the best leadoff hitters in the game with Jose Reyes.
Next is Angel Pagan, who hits well enough to bat third, and runs fast enough to hit leadoff.
Third is David Wright, who is one of the best run producers in the game, and hits for average. Carlos Beltran will hit fourth, who is one of the most proven hitters in the game and if healthy is lethal.
Jason Bay will hit fifth and is an experienced power hitter who can find the gaps and run well.
Ike Davis, who doesn't have to bat fourth anymore, is coming off a monster rookie season and has the potential to hit up to 25 homers this year.
Brad Emaus, a rule-five pick is certainly a question mark, but has had a great spring and is one of the few second basemen that can hit for power. He has a good glove as well.
Josh Thole has gotten a lot of great experience as a catcher the past couple seasons and hits for average and may even hit the occasional home run.
Mike Pelfrey is coming off a 15-win season in which he was lights out for most of the season, starting the year 9-1. Until Santana comes back Big Pelf will be their ace and he definitely has to prove that he is and is going to be one of the elite pitchers in the game.
Jon Niese has progressed so well the past few seasons but has had consistency issues and did not finish off the year well last season. He needs to prove that he is capable of making 30-plus starts a year.
R.A. Dickey had the season of a lifetime and got a two year contract as a reward. At age 36, he needs to prove that he is in his prime as a knuckleballer, and that he was not just a one season fluke.
Chris Young and Chris Capuano are both coming off seasons where they were injured. They both looked great this spring, but they need to prove that their careers will not be defined by injuries, and that they are capable of making a major comeback in their careers.
Sure, everyone may jab the Mets all winter long. They may be the big joke, but you know that come April 8 at 4:00 p.m. when the Mets open up against the Nationals at home, that hopes will be high and people will be happy that their Mets are back playing ball.
When this team is good, there is no better place to be that a Mets home game. The fans are loud, they're loyal, and they will be there before first pitch until the game is over.
Last season when the Yankees were playing in the ALCS against the Rangers, the stands were nearly empty up until game time, and when the weather was cold the stadium was about half full.
At Turner Field in Atlanta, the games were empty up until the playoffs started.
The Marlins haven't had a fan since 2003 (that's a joke, but it's coming from a real place).
Mets fans are very loud. That's what you get with the typical Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island fan base that call themselves the Flushing Faithful.
If the Mets are good, Citi will be rocking.
The Mets are in that very unique position where they have a lot of talent, but nobody is expecting that they will have a good season. Everything has been negative from the media. Unlike in years past where expectations have been sky high, this year, nobody is expecting anything. There is a lot less pressure, and they could easily make a run and go under the radar. They get Santana back in July and maybe, just maybe put together 90 or so wins to get into the playoffs. The group has a lot of potential to be great, and not too many people realize that.
It is important to keep in mind that it is a long season, things happen. Who knew that R.A. Dickey would come around last year, and who knows what might come around this year? It is too early to write them off and they are a very capable group of players.
They have shed the symbolisms of failure (i.e. Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo) and are ready to move on.
So c'mon everybody! Give them a chance!