Three reasons the Mets are optimistic after an injury-packed week clouds the outlook for 2023

The New York Mets went into spring with as much cause for excitement as any other major team. They made the playoffs for the first time in six years last season and spent the offseason signing star after star after a disappointing loss to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card Series. Unfortunately, with less than two weeks to go until opening day, that enthusiasm will be tested and perhaps even corroded by injuries.

Just think about the events of the past week. First, the Mets announced that veteran starter Jose Quintana will miss the first half of the season after undergoing a bone graft in his rib area. Then closer Edwin Díaz suffered a season-ending patellar tendon tear while celebrating Puerto Rico’s victory at the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday. And to complete the hat-trick, starting midfielder Brandon Nimmo was injured in an awkward slide on Friday. Nimmo is considered “week in and out” after suffering a minor sprain to his knee and ankle.

Still, you can understand if the Mets (and their fans) are feeling uneasy after an eventful and ominous week. With that in mind, below are three reasons why the Mets should remain bullish about the year ahead. Scroll slow with us, huh?

1. What’s left is still good

One of the modern blessings of a baseball consumer is that you don’t have to rely on your gut to gauge the quality of a team.

Rather, there are countless resources available that can help uncover a team’s true talent level. This is because this is the time of year when projection systems help set realistic baselines and expectations. These projection systems are engineered to incorporate new developments throughout the year, whether it’s a team’s current tally or injuries.

In the case of the Mets, we don’t have to rely on our own sanity to gauge how much Díaz and Quintana’s absence will hurt their standing in the National League East. The projection systems have already been modified. FanGraphs’ ZiPS, for example, knows that Díaz won’t throw a single pitch this season and that Quintana won’t get all the starts. Still, ZiPS has let the Mets down with 89 wins, or the fifth-most in baseball. SportsLine, meanwhile, has led the Mets to 93 victories.

Well, projection systems are not perfect mechanisms. Even the best miss an average of five games per team. They’re particularly finicky when it comes to assists, as their effect is situational in a way other positions aren’t. It also won’t make Mets fans feel any better that the Atlanta Braves are one of four teams tied to 89-plus wins. (The Braves are predicted by ZiPS as the top team in the majors with 93 wins.)

Still, the Mets roster remains one of the most talented in the majors, and their chances of winning the division shouldn’t be discounted just because one system doesn’t see them as preseason favorites. Of course, having a full squadron of Díaz and Quintana would make them even better, but that brings us to the next point: there’s plenty of time to make up for those losses.

2. You have the means to upgrade

After Díaz’s injury was diagnosed, there was a rush on social media to find out who the Mets could land for his spot.

With due respect to those ordering custom David Bednar Mets jerseys, the answer this time of year is “probably nobody”. Teams are always reluctant to trade in major contributors so close to opening day, lest they give their clubhouse and fan base the wrong impression ahead of the long season. The Mets could still find some low-quality help in the coming weeks (on Friday they called right-hander Dennis Santana from waivers), but a swap for a high-quality closer will likely have to wait until the summer.

That’s not an ideal solution, but we think it’s helpful to remember that the Mets will have the time and resources to strengthen their roster.

In fact, there’s enough talent in the Mets farm system to imagine they’d make meaningful midseason additions. Catcher Francisco Álvarez and third baseman Brett Baty made their big league debuts last season and could make their way into the Mets roster this year. While these two prove to be important parts of the equation and make themselves non-tradable, there are also a pair of first-round picks from last summer – catchers Kevin Parada and short stop Jett Williams — as well as outfielder Alex Ramirez, right-hander Blade Tidwell, shortstop Ronny Mauricio and third baseman Mark Vientos.

The Mets are expected to run for Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani if ​​and when he is made available. If the Angels play well enough to stay in the hunt and delay the Mets pursuit until winter, General Manager Billy Eppler should be able to make a splash before the stretch run. That will likely mean adding a good helper to make up for Díaz’s absence, but it could also mean making up for another weakness elsewhere in the squad.

3. It’s a long season

Let’s face it, injuries are an inevitable part of the baseball season.

It stinks whenever they happen, and it stinks especially when a team is hit by them in a cluster like the Mets were last week plus. But the Mets won’t be the only team suffering losses for these reasons. Each club’s line-up is compromised throughout the season. With some exceptions on both sides of the spectrum, these injuries will likely even out.

For an example of what we mean, just look at the rest of NL East. The Phillies could be without Bryce Harper until midseason and may not play him in the outfield once he returns. The Braves, meanwhile, will not have top reliever Tyler Matzek after he underwent Tommy John surgery last fall. It’s arguable which injury hurts more – we’re certainly not implying these players are the same or that their lost performance will be washed out – but the bigger point remains true. The Mets would never get through the regular season without some trial and error — no team will make it.

The only things you can hope for as a fan is 1) that the remaining team is good enough to get the job done and 2) that the front office has the resources to add even more talent to make up for the losses as the game progresses of the year to balance .

In that regard, the Mets still have a lot to be optimistic about.

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