There are now higher expectations for the 2016 New York Mets, and they know it too
The Mets shocked the baseball world by remaining in contention in the National League East through the trade deadline, and running away with the Division title over the Nationals through August and September.
They once again, shocked the baseball world by overcoming the challenge of defeating Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and the rest of the Dodgers in the Division Series, and wiping out the Chicago Cubs in the League Championship Series to get to the World Series.
In every way imaginable, the Mets exceeded expectations in 2015, conquering every challenge through so much adversity and other kinds of challenges which many believe should have led to their demise.
But now that they’ve been able to do that and establish themselves as championship-caliber, there are now some new expectations that the Mets not only can, but will return to the playoffs next year and make a run towards their first World Championship since 1986.
And the Mets know that as well.
“As I sat up here last year, I said, ‘It’s time to win,'” Terry Collins said after receiving his new two-year contract on Wednesday. “That’s the same goal we’re going to have this year. But our expectations are a little bit higher than they were last year. It’ll be fun to go meet that challenge. ”
“Going into next season, we’re starting from a different plateau,” Sandy Alderson said on Wednesday at Citi Field.
“Our expectations going into next season should be higher than our expectations were going into this season. We had talked about a winning record. We talked about 90 wins. We talked about getting into the playoffs,” he continued.
Still, Alderson views the 2015 season as a successful one despite failing to play consistently well against the Royals in the World Series.
“We expected to have a good season. You never expect to be in the World Series,” he explained. From my standpoint, it was a successful season for us.”
Still, Alderson seemed remarkably stung by the loss in the World Series.
“I think we all realize how difficult it is to get to the World Series, and that there’s a long road between now and getting back,” Alderson said. “Twenty-nine teams go home unhappy, and in some ways, I think the 29th team goes home the unhappiest of all.”
In order to do take the next step and win the World Series, the Mets general manager acknowledged changes needed to be made to the roster in order to elevate their club to that level. He acknowledged three areas which he hopes to improve: the offense, defense and the bullpen.
But he cited the offense as a particular area of concern, and he expects to fortify his offense this winter, and not go into the season so heavily dependent on the starting pitching.
“Look at the World Series,we didn’t really hit,” he said. “That put pressure on the starting pitching, it put pressure on the bullpen, it put pressure on the defense — as did the Royals. I certainly wouldn’t discount their impact, but we just didn’t hit. We certainly didn’t score enough and as we look at next season, 2015 is instructive. The first half of the season we didn’t have any offense either. We can’t simply rely on our starting pitchers; we understand that. We have to figure out ways to score more and at the same time be better defensively as well.”
But given the Mets payroll currently stands between $92-95 million to players currently under control, Alderson is hopeful he can raise the payroll to a higher level than it was on Opening Day in 2015, which was about $101 million, according to Cot’s Contracts.
“My hope is we’ll start with a somewhat higher payroll,” he said, “I don’t know exactly what that will be.”
Alderson acknowledged the boost in attendance in 2015 should help create more flexibility in their plans for the 2016 payroll, but did not offer any specific data or plans.
“I think it makes it easier, Absolutely,” Alderson said. “I think that’s kind of what we said over the last two or three years.”