Noah Syndergaard is down, but the Mets still have their best pitcher

Mets staff
Via the New York Daily News

Yesterday was not kind to the New York Mets, as they not only lost a historic game to the Washington Nationals 23-5, but also lost what some call the ace of their pitching staff, Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard partially tore his right lat, this coming in the wake of a crazy week for him in which he was scratched from his start due to discomfort in his bicep. Later, he refused an MRI, and gave attitude to the media. After all that, Syndergaard has landed on the 10 day DL, but who knows when he will be back.

Injuries continue for the Mets, as they are also without their best player, Yoenis Cespedes who is also on the 10 day DL with a hamstring injury, with no timetable for his return. April was an awful month for the Mets, who had high expectations going into the season. They currently sit last in the NL East, with a lot of baseball still to be played.

Injuries continue for this team, but they still have a very important piece who can lead the Mets until they start to get healthy. That player is Jacob deGrom. Many call Noah Syndergaard the ace of the Mets’ pitching staff, but no pitcher on the Mets staff has come through in a bigger way than Jacob deGrom. Let’s rewind to Syndergaard’s rookie season. It was that year (2015), the Mets made a miraculous run to win the NL pennant. The leader for them in the postseason was Jacob deGrom. In the NLDS, deGrom won 2 road games for the Mets against 2 of the best pitchers in baseball, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He finished the series with a 2-0 record and an ERA of 1.38. That series showed the guts of deGrom, yet he does not get the respect he deserves. deGrom finished the 2015 postseason with a 3-1 record, a 2.88 ERA, and 29 strikeouts in 4 games started.

deGrom thus far has accomplished more at the big league level than Syndergaard, or any pitcher on the Mets staff. Who could forget deGrom’s all star game appearance in 2015, when he struck out the side on 10 pitches. Or, the fact that he won rookie of the year in 2014 finishing that season 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA, a season that surprised many. Arguably the most dominant deGrom has ever looked was a start in 2014, when he struck out the first 8 batters of the game against the Miami Marlins, which was in his rookie year. With all these accomplishments, deGrom is still not looked at as the team’s ace. Is it because he had an off year in 2016, his worst year statistically led by a 3.04 ERA (which is well above average), that was cut short to injury?

It’s hard to understand why Jacob deGrom is not known as the ace of the Mets pitching staff. There are games where he looks really bad on the mound, yet still finishes the game allowing 2 runs over 7 innings. That’s the sign of a great pitcher. This is not a knock on Noah Syndergaard, who is still a very young, talented pitcher, who has the potential to be the best. A lot of pressure is being put on him in New York, and the guy wants nothing more than to win. He had the roughest week of his MLB career, and now people are starting to question him, and calling for the Mets to make changes. The Mets are struggling, and the rails continue to fall every week with injuries. But, right now they still have their ace pitcher healthy, and that’s Jacob deGrom. deGrom will need to lead this team in May and June, and hope the team will start to become healthy by the summer. Jacob deGrom could show the baseball universe that he is the most underrated pitcher in baseball, and take a lot of pressure of Noah Syndergaard. Then, this Mets rotation could be a force.

All stats via Baseball-Reference.

5 players the Jets have to consider at 6 if available in the NFL Draft

Via Getty Images

The New York Jets sit with the number 6 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft this Thursday with many great options. With many holes on the team, this is a huge draft, especially for Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles. Here’s 5 players the Jets should not pass on if available.

5. Leonard Fournette, RB- LSU

Leonard Fournette looks to have the talent to be an elite running back in the NFL. With Adrian Peterson like power, Fournette played in the SEC, a conference full of tough defenses, especially Alabama. With injuries being the only thing holding back Fournette, he looks like he has the skills to be one of the best in the league. While it seems draft experts don’t like teams taking running backs early, you have to take the Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliot into account. Drafted in the top 10 last year, Elliot hit the league quick, and was arguably the best running back in the NFL. The Jets have many holes, but running back is actually one of their stronger positions with Bilal Powell and Matt Forte. But, Leonard Fournette has superstar talent and could make an instant impact as a New York Jet.

4. Marshon Lattimore, CB- Ohio State

While Jets fans are tired of the team drafting a defensive player in the first round, something they have done every year since 2009, when they drafted quarterback Mark Sanchez, they actually do need some more depth at the cornerback position. Right now, the team does not have a number one cornerback, and they released one of their leaders on defense at the cornerback position in Darrelle Revis. Lattimore has the potential to be the team’s number one cornerback, and would actually give them some depth alongside Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine. But, the Jets’ secondary was abysmal last season, and they might have to take a shot at Lattimore and upgrade their defense. Lattimore is athletic, and would be a solid fit for the Jets.

3. OJ Howard, TE- Alabama 

While it is rare to see a team draft a tight end with the 6th overall pick in the draft, this is definitely a position the Jets need to upgrade. They have not gotten much production from their tight ends since the days of Dustin Keller. While drafting OJ Howard would not make the team instantly better, he’d be a nice weapon for the Jets, as we see many teams today who have a tight end as their go to guy. The Jets are rebuilding, and need more skilled players. OJ Howard would definitely be a nice fit, but of course he’d need a good quarterback throwing to him.

2. Mitchell Trubisky, QB- UNC

The knock on this year’s draft is that there really aren’t any projected top 10 quarterbacks. But, the Jets need a quarterback, no matter where they’re picking. It might seem logical for the Jets to trade back in the Draft and go for Trubisky, but they need a franchise quarterback wherever they draft him. They currently have three quarterbacks on their roster, and 2 are very young. But, they need to keep drafting quarterbacks and give them a shot. They have to get it right eventually. Some feel Trubisky should have stayed for another year at UNC. Considering he has not started that many games, he might be a risky pick for the Jets. But, if they hit a home run in other rounds in this draft, and build up their roster including an offensive line to protect Trubisky, he could find success here. He is certainly a player that should be on the Jets’ radar, but it all comes down to if he’s worth it at 6, while many GM’s seem to like drafting the best overall player available.

1. Jamal Adams, S- LSU

During his time at LSU, Adams proved to be a great leader on their defense. That right there is something the Jets need. The Jets need guys that want to work and want to win. They don’t need players showing up late for meetings, and simply showing they don’t care. The Jets need a culture change, and while he’d be a rookie, Adams would have an instant impact on a team that needs help in their secondary. Some project him in the top 3, but if he’s available at 6, the Jets should go after him. He has the skills and attitude to play a long NFL career, so why not for the Jets? The Jets also let up a lot of deep balls last season. At safety, Adams would definitely help the secondary with their deep ball weakness; plays that took the Jets right out of games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A with Mike

This is the first Q&A Mike has conducted, in which people from Twitter and Instagram submitted questions regarding the Mets, Jets, and Islanders. Here are the questions, followed by Mike’s answer to the best of his ability.

Twitter Questions:

@drewbykov39: If you were the Mets, what would you trade for and what position would enhance the team? Same question for the Isles.

Mike: While the Mets season is very young and there is still a lot of baseball to be played, to me it’s clear this Met team is missing a player who hits for average, and also has speed. I think the hope for Jose Reyes would fill this role, as he played very well in 2016, but has struggled thus far in 2017. The team has a bunch of big time home run hitters including Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Lucas Duda. They need some guys who can get on base, to set up these home run hitters. Two guys I like are Dee Gordon at 2nd base and Joey Votto at 1st base. While both are unlikely to ever be traded to the Mets whether it’s an expensive contract from Votto or playing on an inner division team in Gordon, these two players could make an immediate impact in their own ways, and most importantly, they both get on base. But, it’s hard to tell through just a few weeks who are buyers and who sellers in the MLB. As for the Islanders, I don’t expect any blockbuster trades, but the Islanders in my opinion could still use a goalie, maybe Ben Bishop, who is an unrestricted free agent, or a veteran forward who can score goals alongside John Tavares in Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane.

@GingerCMP: Is it definite that the Isles are moving from Barclays after next season?

Mike: There’s been so many different reports about where the Islanders will end up playing whether it’s near Citi Field, by Belmont, in Hartford, or a return to the New Coliseum, but I think it still seems logical to return to the Coliseum. The Islanders fan base is generally located in Long Island, and they just renovated the venue. Reports say seating is a problem, but it seems the Islanders are the ones that don’t want to return, not the county. So, I do expect the Islanders to be out of Barclays after next season, but it’s very hard to tell. I also think it makes the most sense for them to return to the Coliseum, but it sounds like a new stadium in Belmont is not an exaggeration. For now, all we can do is watch… and for me, commute to Brooklyn to watch a hockey game instead of a 20 minute drive.

Instagram Questions:

@mmconner333: Do you think the Mets will win the World Series?

Mike: To be honest, I do think the Mets have a legitimate shot at winning the World Series this year, and that is because I think they’re built for the postseason. With a dominant, young pitching staff that looks as good as they ever have, the sky is the limit for this team. But, they need to manufacture runs in other ways than just home runs. Maybe that means acquiring another contact bat, but I’m not going to write off the offense yet. The season is young, and let’s see where we are in May and June. A positive with the Mets’ home run hitting is that they are never out of any game because they can march right back in a game quick. But, when the home runs go cold, the offense is in trouble, and we’re seeing that during their current four game losing streak. While people are down on the Mets right now, yes I do think they are going to win the World Series. In a playoff series with their starting pitching depth, they can beat anyone.

@bhenriksen17: Is Johnny T (John Tavares) wasting his career as an Islander or is next year the year they finally decide to put some pieces around him?

Mike: You make a valid point with this question, as John Tavares has been with the Islanders for quite sometime now, and they have not shown any consistency and have only made it to the playoffs 3 times in his 8 seasons with the team. I think this team needs to show John Tavares they are committed to winning, and quickly because he’s obviously a free agent at the end of the season. But, put yourself in John Tavares’ shoes. Why stay with this franchise and maybe make it to the playoffs once every three years? Especially when the team located near his hometown is surprising the NHL universe and giving the top seeded Washington Capitals a series in the Toronto Maple Leafs. If I’m Tavares, that’s a very appealing landing spot with their young talent, and the possibility of more playoff success than the Islanders when it’s time for his decision. But, loyalty may be something I could see Tavares considering. This team drafted him, and it’s where he made his name. So, they need to get a veteran goal scorer to play alongside Tavares this year, and make a DEEP playoff run during the 2017-18 season, or Tavares may walk out. It’s on the Islanders, but I also don’t know what Tavares is thinking. So, yes, this should be the year the Islanders make a push to get some skilled players alongside Tavares, if not, everyone should be fired. The Islanders need to show Tavares they want to win. I think it’s in the best interest of the Islanders to get a deal done before he even hits free agency, but Tavares may want to test his options. It’s on the Islanders to make it happen.

@angelooneill: Would love to know what your first moves would be for the Islanders now that the season’s over and they missed the playoffs.

Mike: The Islanders top priority should be assuring they will have John Tavares for longer than the 2017-18 season. It’s on upper management to bring in a goal scorer, as I said earlier, maybe trade for someone like Evander Kane. I also think it would be worth it to bring in goalie Ben Bishop, and then trade either Thomas Greiss or Jaroslav Halak. Making these moves should give this team a chance to win games. I think they’re close to being capable of making a deep run in the playoffs, as some guys stepped up at the end of the 2016-17 season. We can’t be too negative, as the team missed the playoffs by just 1 point. The Islanders need to show John Tavares they want to win. The Islanders would win the offseason if Tavares has a contract extension before the regular season even starts. If that happens, I’m sure many Islander fans would be happy and feel they won the offseason.

@anthonypiparo: Do you think Mikhail Grabovski’s career is over?

Mike: Grabovski is still under contract with the Islanders next season, but he has still had issues with his concussions, as he did not appear in any games during the 2016-17 season. At age 33, he needs to consider the dangers of returning as concussions are very serious as we all know. I think it’d be nice to have him back, but it seems like there’s not much news about him. Did any Islanders reporters or the broadcasts even mention him? Maybe he needed a year off, but I can’t really determine whether his career is over. It might be the smartest decision, but that’s up to Grabovski, who could really help the Islanders with his speed and his ability to work well with former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Nikolay Kulemin.

@coviefitness_88: Who was the best Mets killer on the Phillies?

Mike: Boy, there’s so many Mets killers, particularly one’s from the Phillies. From what I’ve seen, Pat Burrell always had the Mets’ number, as well as Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley. It always seemed like those guys would come up in the big spots late in games, and deliver. All that mattered was that they were playing the Mets. If you want, check out a piece I wrote last year titled The All Time Mets Killers Team. There’s 4 Phillies on that lineup.

Anonymous Questions:

Why is Todd Bowles still (the Jets) head coach?

Mike: Todd Bowles is still the Jets head coach for various reasons, but 1 major reason is that it’s only his 2nd year. Yes, the team took huge steps backward during the 2016 season after a 10 win season in 2015, but he deserves at least another year. It’s not like he had a team full of superstars. His team was full a veterans whose best years were behind them, and didn’t seem to care once the team fell to 1-5. One thing to look at and question is if Todd Bowles has lost the locker room. We had guys showing up late to meetings, missed tackles, and missed blocks last year, which made many question if it was time for Bowles to go. While it wouldn’t have been outrageous to fire him or shocking, I still think he deserves more time. For the Todd Bowles haters, he has a team now that quite frankly does not look like they’re going to be very good, so if he wins 5 games this year, it could very well be a success. Given their roster, how can you fairly fire him after the upcoming season? I predict they will let him play out the final 2 years of his contract, but if this team plays lazy and careless during the season, he could very well be fired. I think the Jets have more roster issues than coaching issues. They see Todd Bowles won 10 games with Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback, so my guess is that’s why he’s still here. But, it’s clear he might be on the hot seat.

What do you think the Isles have to do to convince (John) Tavares to sign long term?

Mike: The Islanders need to show John Tavares they want to win now, and have Stanley Cup aspirations led by him. That being said, he needs help, and the team needs some forwards that can score goals, as well as more consistent goaltending. They also need an arena to play in, because right now we don’t know where they’re playing in the near future. Why would Tavares want to play for a team that’s going to be on the move, and have possibly a third home arena during his tenure with the team. So, if this team somehow finds their way back at the Coliseum, and picks ups some pieces that leads to a deep playoff run, then it would seem logical for John Tavares to resign with the team. But, given the situation right now, can you blame him if he leaves?

If you had to pick one, replay option or computer generated strike zone and calls, which would you prefer?

Mike: The idea of a computer deciding a baseball game scares me. I don’t mind replay in baseball, but the system needs some improvements, especially enforcing time limits on how long the manager has to decide to challenge. I like the idea of getting calls right, but it needs to be sped up. If the call is too hard to determine, the call on the field should stand. This process shouldn’t take more than a minute or 2. As for computer generated strike zones, it takes away work for many umpires, and I’d worry of a malfunction in the strike zone. How long would it take for a team to rig the strike zone? Yes, technology is great, but I think we should stick to human umpires, while improving video replay. Plus, with no umpires, who would players and fans blame when they lose?

Who is your favorite Mets player? 

Mike: I’ve always liked Steven Matz of course because he’s from Long Island, but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. My favorite position player is Michael Conforto, as I love the way he hits, especially when he takes the ball to opposite field. I’m also a big Jacob deGrom fan, as I still stand by my opinion that he currently is the best pitcher on the Mets’ staff. So, these 3 guys are definitely my favorite Mets.

 

 

Positives and negatives to take away from the 2016-17 Islanders season

Via Getty Images

During the 2016-17 season, the Islanders fell just short of the playoffs. In a year full of ups and downs, here’s some positives and negatives to take away from the season that many Islander fans will most likely forget about as time goes on.

Positives

1. Anders Lee

Anders Lee has turned into quite the player this season after a slow start, proving to be an elite goal scorer. During the 2016-17 season, Lee led the team in goals with 34 and totaled 52 points. Fans were looking for John Tavares to find another lineman that can score some goals, and that very well could be Anders Lee. After taking a few steps back last season, Lee has rebounded this season and has been the Islanders best goal scorer. Islanders fans have reason to be excited about Anders Lee.

2. Coach Doug Weight

Since taking over as Islanders head coach in mid January when Jack Capuano was fired, Doug Weight completely turned this team around. Taking over when the team was in last place in the Metropolitan division, Weight pulled this team within striking distance of the final Wild Card spot, but the team fell just short. Under Doug Weight, the Islanders were 24-12-4, and proved to play with a lot more effort and heart. They had a much more offensive mindset, and also blew less third period leads. Doug Weight absolutely deserves to receive an extension as head coach of the New York Islanders. That is, if he wants to return.

3. Young Talent

Two young players that stand out on this Islanders roster and were key contributors down the stretch as the team battled for the final Wild Card spot are forwards Josh Ho-Sang and Anthony Beauvillier. Ho-Sang was called up late in the season, and showed signs that he is here to stay. He appeared in 21 games, netting 4 goals and 6 assists, and showed the ability to be a major playmaker. Islanders fans should be excited for Josh Ho-Sang next season, as he could be a major help to John Tavares. At just age 21, he has a lot to learn, but Islanders fans have reason for excitement with Ho-Sang. Beauvillier also showed signs that he is here to stay, appearing in 66 games, with 9 goals and 15 assists. At just 19 years old, Beauvillier fits the style of play today, with really good speed, and uses his speed to make plays. Islanders fans should be very excited about these 2 players, as they had solid chemistry together towards the end of the season.

4. 94 Points

Fans look were very frustrated with this team for most of the season, as they spent much of the year towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. However, the team did finish with 94 points, and they fell just a few points short of making the playoffs. At one point during the season, it looked as though the team would be lucky to finish with 80 points. But, this team showed they care, and wanted to make the playoffs. If it wasn’t for a sloppy start early, this team would be in the playoffs. Lets be honest, they had to play near perfect hockey since Doug Weight took over, and they fell just short. Maybe, by not making the playoffs, upper management will wake up, and maybe the Islanders will be big spenders this offseason.

5. Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera

The Islanders signed these two veterans in hopes that they would be good replacements for three of their core players from a year ago; Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielson, and Matt Martin. While they started off slow, Ladd and Chimera had solid seasons. Ladd finished the season with over 20 goals, while Chimera had 20 goals himself. Both have had great NHL careers, and it took them getting used to the system, but they proved to fit in just right. Both are under contract for next season, and if this team can find their way back to the playoffs, they both will be key contributors. They had big shoes to fill, and they did a pretty solid job for the Islanders. Both proved to be solid goal scorers, which is something a team always needs.

Negatives

1. No playoffs

There’s no sugar coating in the fact that the Islanders clearly took some major steps back in the 2016-17 season, after winning a playoff series last year for the first time in quite some time. The team put themselves in a major hole, and they could not quite find their way out of it. Fans have reason for concern, as who knows if this team will continue to move backwards after a major rebuild over a long period of time. After winning a playoff series, the hope was this team would make a deep run in the playoffs. The 2016-17 season in many ways was a failure, and this team has a lot of work to do this offseason. They have to be better.

2. Goalie Situation

When was the last time the Islanders had a really good goalie? It’s been awhile, and it’s holding them back right now. Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have their moments, but they’re both very inconsistent. They’ll have back to back shutouts, but then they’ll have a game where they can’t buy a save, and let up 4-5 goals, not giving the team much of a chance. How many times did Thomas Greiss get pulled this season? But, much of the goalie situation blame has to go to Garth Snow. For whatever reason, the team thinks the 3 goalie system is a good idea. Well, it failed this season. It wasn’t fair to any of the goalies. They sent Halak down to the minors, and that left JF Berube as the backup to Greiss. It seemed like Greiss never got to rest until he had a bad game, hurting his confidence. Halak should have been called up much sooner, as he would’ve been a solid backup goalie that could win them a game when Greiss needed a rest. But, the team waited much to long, as Thomas Greiss was burnt out, and Halak finished the season playing great hockey. Both these goalies give the Islanders a chance to win, but they also have games where they are just awful. The goalie situation was a major failure this season. If there was no 3 goalie system, this team could be in the playoffs.

3. John Tavares has 1 year left

The 2016-17 season ended, and the Islanders’ franchise player only has one year left on his current deal. The team will go as far as John Tavares goes, but they cannot lose him to free agency after the 2017-18 season. They need to lock him up as soon as possible, preferably this offseason. But, does Tavares want to stay? This team has only won one playoff series with Tavares, and they haven’t shown a commitment to winning games. Tavares has been here through the good and the bad, and has always been a quiet guy who just goes about his business. He doesn’t seem like the guy to leave the team that drafted him, but it’s on the Islanders’ upper management to show him they want to win a Stanley Cup. If Tavares signs elsewhere, this team is in major trouble, and fans will be calling for everyone to be fired (if they aren’t already). All we can do is watch, and enjoy at least the final season the team has with him.

4. Defensemen

This season, the Islanders really only had 2 consistent defensemen in Nick Leddy and when he was healthy, Johnny Boychuk. Other than these 2, the Islanders had some holes on the defensive side. Thomas Hickey had a interesting year, as he ended the season playing forward. He looked pretty good there, and maybe playing with 7 defensemen will be part of Doug Weight’s plan in the future. After looking like the Islanders’ best defensemen at times in prior seasons, Travis Hamonic had a rough season. Over the past few years, he has been plagued with injuries, which had definitely slowed him down. There was also major concern as to why the team didn’t have Ryan Pulock with them for most of the season. A defensemen who could provide some offense is something this team could use, yet he appeared in just 1 game, after playing in 15 last season. Are we missing something? He better be on the NHL roster next season, as he had shown signs of being an effective player, and even appeared in some playoff games last year.

5. Matt Martin

While everyone seemed upset the team didn’t resign Kyle Okposo and Fans Nielson, an even bigger player they missed was Matt Martin. Martin didn’t wow you statistically, but he did the little things, and was apart of the best 4th line in hockey alongside Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas. Clutterbuck and Cizikas did not look like the same players after getting extensions, and that can be partly blamed to missing Matt Martin. These 3 had great chemistry, and they were known for grinding it out with physical play. They fed off of each other, and once they lost Martin, they did not look the same on the ice. The Islanders actually had something going here, and they lost it. This line was able to set the tone in the past, but it’s gone because Matt Martin is no longer an Islander.

The 2016-17 season was a tough year for the Islanders. They had their moments, but were in too deep of a hole to pull themselves out. To say the team had a terrible year isn’t fair, as they fell just short of the playoffs. But, there should be concern as the team took some big steps back this season. The team has some holes to fill, but they are capable of being a playoff team next season. This is a huge offseason for the Islanders, and it will show us if the Islanders are heading north or south. The team was rebuilding for a while. They started to find some consistency, but that was not the case this year.

All stats vis nhl-reference

 

Expectations are high for the New York Mets in 2017

Via Getty Images

In 2016, the Mets made it to the playoffs for the 2nd consecutive season for only the 2nd time in franchise history. However, the team fell up short in the Wild Card game against the San Francisco Giants against one of the best postseason pitchers in Madison Bumgarner. The team made it to the World Series in 2015, and expectations were pretty high going into the 2016 season. But, for those that followed the team were aware that many of the Mets’ key players were injured throughout the year. There were still some positives to take away from the season, especially since the team found their way into the playoffs. But, fans want a championship.

It’s now 2017, and the expectations for the New York Mets are as high as I’ve ever seen them. The team retained some key offensive players including Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker, two very important pieces on this team. To start, the team has so much depth, especially in the outfield. With Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Grandson, Jay Bruce, and Michael Conforto, the team is pretty stacked in the outfield. The Mets finally have Cespedes locked up for 5 years, and expectations are for him to be an MVP candidate. We can’t forget Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo as well, who also have the potential to be solid bench players. Their infield also has some nice depth with Jose Reyes, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores and David Wright if healthy. Even if there’s injuries, this team should have plenty of help from their bench, and as we know, the baseball season is very long. The Mets have a good problem with all the depth they have right now.

I’d say their only position with some major holes is Catcher. 2017 is a huge year for Travis d’Arnaud, who was supposed to be a big time hitter. He has shown signs, but has never peaked, and also struggles behind the dish. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets are in the market for a catcher at the trading deadline, unless d’Arnaud turns it around. Rene Rivera is a solid backup catcher and plays some great defense, but the team does not really have a proven starting catcher. That’s one position the team failed to address in the offseason, but we will see what D’Arnaud has.

Of course, the position that has people opening their eyes at the Mets is their solid, young pitching staff. Noah Syndergaard looks to be the team’s number 1, and will be backed up by Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, 2 guys who at times looked like they were the Mets’ number 1 pitcher. These 3 guys could be Cy Young Candidates. It will also be great to see Zack Wheeler back in action, as he has a lot to prove coming off of an injury. And of course, one of the key pitchers for the team in 2016 down the stretch is Robert Gsellman, who will be a great number 5 starter to start off the season. The team will miss Steven Matz, who’s not on the opening day roster due to injury. Of course, the team will go as far as this pitching staff brings them. In 2015, the staff was pretty healthy, and that’s why they made a World Series run. 2016, the staff was constantly injured, and they still found a way into the playoffs. We all know it, this staff has to stay healthy. They no longer have Bartolo Colon to cover for all these young guys, but they still have depth and talent. If the staff stays healthy, I don’t see why this team can’t win it all. But they have to stay healthy, it’s that simple.

The only area that scares me is the bullpen. Closer Jeurys Familia will start the season suspended 15 games, so Addison Reed will have to step up. He’s been a closer before, but he looked great as one of the best setup men in baseball last season. When Familia comes back, I really like their 8/9, but as we know with these young pitchers, many times they only go 5 or 6 innings. That means they will need a major contribution from their bullpen. Fernando Salas also could be under the radar, and end up being very important for this bullpen, especially during Familia’s suspension. The bullpen has some potential, but look at a guy like Hansel Robles. At times, he looks like the best pitcher in the league, but then there’s times when he can’t find the strike zone. Seth Lugo will also be a nice player, who also can start some games. He was another pitcher who came up big down the stretch during the 2016 playoff run. Maybe come trade deadline, the team will pick up a reliever, but they could end up being the surprise of this Mets team.

I’m sure I speak on behalf of many Mets fans in saying I expect a deep postseason run this year. I know it’s a long season and I know injuries happen, but this team has the makeup to challenge the Chicago Cubs for the National League Pennant. Their depth could help them get through some injuries. They have great offensive potential, and their pitching staff could end up being the best in baseball. The key phrase to the season is stay healthy. If this team stays healthy, I think they could win the World Series. Only Mets fans see this, but this team has the potential to be one of the best Mets teams we’ve ever seen. But, baseball can be very unpredictable, and it’s great to have it back. I think 2017’s going to be a special season for the Mets.

Mike’s Final Record Prediction for the New York Mets: 94-68

What signing Josh McCown means for the Jets

Via Getty Images

As reported yesterday, the Jets signed quarterback Josh McCown to a 1 year deal. McCown, coming off of a injury plagued 2016 season with the Cleveland Browns, sits at age 37 with a team in the Jets that is clearly rebuilding. The Jets also have 2 young quarterbacks on their roster in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. What remains to be seen is who will be the opening week starter for a team that cut several of their high priced veterans including center Nick Mangold, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and cornerback Darrelle Revis.

After these cuts were made, it was clear the Jets were in a total rebuild. So, why bring in Josh McCown some might ask? Realistically, bringing in McCown is to have a veteran on the quarterback staff that will compete with the 2 young guys in Petty and Hackenberg. Many would like to see the team give these 2 young quarterbacks a chance, especially after they made it clear they are starting over with a rebuild.

Something that the McCown signing might eliminate is whether the Jets will draft a quarterback with the 6th overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. They now have 3 quarterbacks on the roster, and if they drafted another, they’d definitely have to cut at least one of them. Does that put Petty or Hackenberg on the hot seat? That might not be fair, considering Petty only started a few games last season and Hackenberg, a former 2nd round pick has yet to play in a game. There are 2 quarterbacks who have franchise quarterback potential in Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky. But, the signing of McCown might be a sign that the Jets do not have intentions of drafting either of these 2 players.

The signing of Josh McCown ultimately shows the Jets have no intentions of drafting a quarterback in the upcoming draft, and by signing him to just a 1 year deal the hope is Petty or Hackenberg will show improvements this year, or they have their eyes set on someone in the 2018 draft. Teams usually prefer to have a veteran quarterback on their team, and now the Jets have one. Some might have felt that there were better options on the market, and that might be true. But, the reality is this team is still a long ways from winning. Fans will have to show patience, as the goal for this season will have to be for the team to know exactly who Petty and Hackenberg are. With the 6th overall pick in the upcoming draft, the team does not only need a quarterback, as they have many holes on the team. McCown coming in also does not grant him the starting job. Hopefully he will be a good locker room guy, and push the two young quarterbacks in a summer competition for the starting job. The team still has many questions, and expectations seem to be low for the New York Jets in 2017. What a difference a year makes for this team.

 

3 Sleeper teams that could make some noise in the 2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament

It’s March!! It’s that time of the year again when brackets get busted. A time full of excitement and surprise, March Madness gets more unpredictable every year. Here are 3 teams that are currently under the radar, but could definitely make some noise during the 2017 tournament.

Via USA Today Sports

3. UNC Wilmington

UNC Wilmington won the CAA regular season title, as well as the tournament, finishing the season with a record of 29-5. Lead by Senior Chris Flemmings and Sophomore CJ Bryce, the team likes to shoot the 3 ball, which can really jumpstart their offense. They also play very tough defense, with the ability to execute a quality press that could give teams some trouble. They are a 12 seed, and many of their players have tournament experience, after losing to Duke in last year’s tournament 93-85, and leading at half time. This team could make some noise in the tournament, and will be a very tough out as a 12 seed. Watch out for UNC Wilmington.

Via USA Today Sports

2. Middle Tennessee  

With players who have tournament experience, this team shocked the world last year when they upset 2 seed Michigan State in the 1st round last year as a 15 seed. Watch out for the Middle Tennessee, now a 12 seed, as some of their core players are upper classmen. Teams with players who have been playing together for a while tend to find success, even vs power 5 conference teams. Some think Middle Tennessee could make even more noise this year than last year, and it all starts with their experience working together.

Via USA Today Sports

1. Michigan

Maybe not a surprise after they won the Big 10 championship, but Michigan is one of the hottest teams in the country. In the Big 10 tournament, they got through 2 of the best teams in the Big 10 in Purdue and Wisconsin, leading to their championship run. They are playing team oriented basketball, and have the ability to make a deep run as a 7 seed. With some upsets that are very possible, they could find themselves in the elite 8. Anything can happen, and we’ve seen teams like UConn win their conference tournament, not as the favorite, and going on to win the National Championship. Watch out for Michigan, as we’ve seen this story before.