The Mets won 101 games last season, which normally would make 2022 a year for fans to fondly recall. That will not be the case, however, because of the last two weeks of the season, which saw the Mets lose the National League East title to the Atlanta Braves after being in first place for nearly the entire season. The Mets followed that pratfall by losing the first round of the National League playoffs to the San Diego Padres despite all three games being played at Citi Field.

Nonetheless, winning 101 games is nothing to sneeze at. The Flushing faithful are thrilled to have a generous owner in Steven A Cohen, who grew up a Mets fan in Great Neck, LI. He has shown a willingness to invest in his team, much to the consternation of his fellow owners. Thus, there was every reason for optimism with respect to the upcoming season.

Unfortunately, closer Edwin Diaz, who was the best relief pitcher in baseball last year, suffered a torn patella in his right knee following Team Puerto Rico’s win over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Diaz blew out his knee jumping up and down with his teammates during their celebration. Replacing Diaz, who preserved many one-run leads, will be next to impossible.

Another big loss occurred when doctors discovered a benign tumor on left-handed starting pitcher Jose Quintana’s rib cage earlier this month. Quintana, whom the Mets signed as a free agent during the winter, had been complaining of pain in that area when he was on the mound. He recently had surgery and is not expected to return until after the All-Star Game break.

Let’s look at the roster Mets Manager Buck Showalter currently has at his disposal.

Starting pitching

Starting pitching has historically been the Mets’ strong suit, and that still appears to be the case thanks to veteran co-aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. The Mets signed Verlander, who has won the Cy Young Award three times in his career (including last year as a member of the Houston Astros) within days of their homegrown two-time Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom, opting to join the Texas Rangers for a five-year contract valued at $185 million.

While most Mets fans were hoping deGrom would stay, they were also relieved to be free of worrying about whether the next pitch he threw would cause him to miss the rest of the season. DeGrom missed sizable parts of both the 2021 and 2022 seasons battling arm issues. He was spectacular, however, when he was healthy enough to pitch.

Aside from Verlander, the Mets’ other big free agent signing this past winter was Kodai Senga, who had been a star in his native Japan. He is known for throwing a “ghost forkball,” which derives its name because it seems to disappear when hitters are swinging.

Jose Quintana’s absence will put more pressure on 36-year-old Carlos Carrasco to repeat the success he had in 2022 as he posted a 15-7 won-loss record and a respectable 3.97 earned run average. It was a remarkable comeback after a disastrous 2021 season where he missed the first half of the season because of a hamstring injury. He was ineffective, to say the least, when he returned to action that August.

Rounding out the starting rotation will be lefty David Peterson who was the Mets’ top pick in the 2017 amateur draft. He has looked good at times, and absolutely awful at other times. He has also had arm issues. Peterson is 27 and this is a crucial season for his development. He needs to show the Mets he is more than just a current version of Jon Niese. He also needs to remain healthy for an entire season and not miss any starts.

Tylor Megill was the Mets Opening Day starter in 2022. He was pitching very well until he was diagnosed with inflammation in his right biceps in mid-May and did not return until September. Even that brief time was marred as he was placed on the Covid-19 injury list days before the end of the regular season. Megill will begin the season at AAA Syracuse.

Gone from the Mets’ starting rotation from 2022 are Taijuan Walker and Chris Bassitt. Walker made the All-Star team in 2021 and then fell apart in the second half of that season. In 2022, he enjoyed a solid first half but tailed off in the latter part of the season although not as dramatically as what happened in the previous year. He signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Chris Bassitt pitched very well for the Mets for most of 2022, except for when the Mets needed him the most. He was awful against the Braves as they completed their sweep of the Mets in Atlanta in late September with Bassitt chased by the third inning. Bassitt gave an encore performance in his next start as the San Diego Padres belted him in the deciding Game 3 of the National League Wild Card Series. My guess is had Bassitt only had one disastrous outing instead of two, he would have remained a Met. He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.


With Edwin Diaz gone for the year, the Mets bullpen is unsettled, to say the least. While they are all expected to make contributions in 2023, the Mets have had plenty of health headaches with respect to their relievers.

Southpaw Brooks Raley, who was signed as a free agent from the Tampa Bay Rays, has been battling a hamstring injury, but should be good to go when the season begins. Sam Coonrod is a hard thrower who had some good outings for the Phillies the last two years. The Phillies cut him because he never could stay healthy. History appears to be repeating itself as Coonrod, who looked impressive for the Mets during spring training, incurred a “high grade lat sprain” and is expected to miss a good deal of 2023. Meanwhile one of the great names in baseball, Bryce Montes de Oca, who had a cup of coffee with the Mets last year, has a stress reaction in his pitching elbow.

Drew Smith has been in the Mets organization since the summer of 2017 as he came from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for slugger Lucas Duda. Smith has pitched well in small sample sizes for the Mets. This is an excellent opportunity for Smith to be more than just a name on the 40-man roster by doing well in high-pressure situations.

Veteran pitcher John Curtiss, who missed 2022 recovering from Tommy John surgery, has pitched well during spring training. He was not on most Mets fans’ radar screens, but was one of the best surprises for the team in spring training.

Another old pro who should help out is Tommy Hunter who acquitted himself well in limited appearances for the Mets in 2022.

The Mets will be counting on a pair of long-in-the-tooth warhorses, David Robertson and Adam Ottavino, to pitch the ninth inning when the Mets have a lead.

Mets fans would be a little more relaxed about their reliever corps had team General Manager Billy Eppler made a modicum of effort to re-sign Seth Lugo. While he was never an All-Star, he was certainly competent and got the job done more frequently than not. Lugo will be pitching for the San Diego Padres this year.


Mets fans have been waiting for the top prospect in the Mets farm system, Francisco Alvarez, to be their team’s starting catcher. He was called up in the final days of the 2022 season in the hopes of giving the slumping Mets an offensive jolt, but he struggled just like the rest of the team.

Alvarez will one day be the Mets starting catcher, but it won’t be right now. The team signed 32-year-old ex-Milwaukee Brewers backstop Omar Narvaez, who has some pop in his bat, to replace James McCann, who was pretty much given away to the Baltimore Orioles.

McCann had become a frequent target of Citi Field boo birds because his hitting was atrocious in his two years as a Met. Ironically, Mets fans can’t blame the Wilpons for signing him as he was the first Mets player acquired after Steve Cohen bought the team in the fall of 2020. Cohen’s acting general manager, Sandy Alderson, chose not to engage with JT Realmuto, who was also a free agent at the time. That decision has haunted the franchise ever since.

Alvarez is only 21, so he has plenty of time to get to Queens. At this point, he is better off getting more experience behind the plate with the Mets’ top minor league club in Syracuse. He also hit poorly in spring training. There is no point risking a jolt to his confidence by having him face major league pitching now. The Mets were smart to send Alvarez to their minor league camp last week to avoid needless speculation about whether he would be on the Opening Day roster. Buck Showalter said it was his hope Alvarez would not be called up to Flushing until September.

Tomas Nido, who is excellent defensively, but a streaky hitter at best, will be Narvaez’s understudy.


If there is one area where the Mets appear set, it is their infield. The team’s main power threat, Pete Alonso, will once again be manning first base. To his credit, Alonso has worked hard on his defense. When he first came to the Mets, he would frequently be replaced in the late innings for defensive purposes by Dominic Smith, who is now a member of the Washington Nationals after not being tendered a contract by the Mets at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

Second baseman Jeff McNeil won the National League batting title in 2022 and was rewarded with a four-year contract extension which will pay him $50 million over the next four years. McNeil suffered an off-year in 2021 as he tried to become a power hitter. He wound up neither hitting for average nor belting many home runs. He is at his best when he is content to be a contact hitter.

Shortstop Francisco Lindor had a nice comeback year in 2022 belting 26 home runs and hitting .270 after struggling in 2021, his first year with the Mets. Lindor is in the third year of an eleven-year contract. While the Mets clearly benefit having a premier shortstop, you have to wonder what the future holds for one of their top prospects, shortstop Ronny Mauricio, who enjoyed a terrific spring training. Mauricio hit three booming home runs and played solid defense in Lindor’s stead while he was playing for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

The only question about the infield going into spring training was “Who will start at third base, veteran Eduardo Escobar or rookie Brett Baty?” The 34-year-old switch-hitting Escobar is in the second year of a two-year contract with the Mets. He struggled for most of the season, but to his credit, he was the Mets’ most productive hitter in September when the rest of the lineup seemed to have bats made of Swiss cheese. Escobar blamed his rough season on family issues which weighed on his mind. He says they have now been resolved.

Brett Baty is the Mets’ brightest hope to play third base since David Wright came up through the organization. Baty is certainly ready to play in the big leagues, but the Mets want him to get more playing time at the AAA level. Sending Baty back down to Syracuse was Buck Showalter’s most difficult decision before the Mets broke camp in Port St. Lucie.

The always reliable Luis Guillorme is back as the jack of all trades utility infielder who can reliably fill in for an injured player or one who needs a day off.


The Mets dodged a bullet on the injury front when X-rays revealed Brandon Nimmo only had a sore ankle after pulling up in pain at second base on a hit-and-run play during a spring training game against the Houston Astros. The popular Mets centerfielder signed an eight-year, $162 million contract with the Mets as owner Steve Cohen did not want the fan favorite to leave the team.

What makes Nimmo so popular is he gives maximum effort every minute he is on the field. The flip side of his all-hustle, all the time attitude is the risk of injury which has hurt him during his career.

It is not hyperbole to write the Mets season went south in September when rightfielder Starling Marte was hit in the hand from a fastball during a game with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He missed the rest of the regular season although he did return for the Wild Card Series. It was clear he was not the same player. Apparently, his right hand wasn’t the only area of discomfort for him. In November he underwent groin surgery. Hopefully, his physical maladies are behind him, and he can regain the form which made him an All-Star in 2022.

Mark Canha’s 2022 statistics (.266 batting average, 13 HRs) mask the fact he is a disciplined hitter who makes pitchers work by rarely swinging at bad pitches. The Mets leftfielder has a strong arm and covers a lot of ground in the outfield on balls hit in the gap. He is also a go-to guy in the clubhouse for reporters needing a quote.

The Mets signed veteran outfielder Tommy Pham as a free agent during the winter. Pham has always been a tough out, especially when he played for the St. Louis Cardinals. He did not have a good spring training, but one should not read too much into that.

Billy Eppler wisely signed veteran outfielder Tim Locastro to a minor league contract during the winter. Locastro played very well for the Yankees as a bench player until injuries cost his roster spot. He is a good contact hitter, can steal a base and is a defensive standout.

Designated Hitter

This was a troublesome area for the Mets in 2022 as they got little production from Dominic Smith and JD Davis. Mets GM Billy Eppler was determined to get rid of Davis in the worst way at the July 31 trade deadline, and that is exactly what happened. He traded Davis and three minor leaguers to the San Francisco Giants for Darin Ruf, who was a good player for the Phillies not long ago. Ruf was far worse than Davis and gave nothing but outs for the Mets as his .155 batting average attests. Any hopes for signs of a comeback by the 36-year-old Ruf were put on hold thanks to an arthritic wrist. On Monday, the Mets put up the white flag on Ruf and designated him for assignment.

Daniel Vogelbach was another Eppler acquisition in late July. Vogelbach lost a lot of weight during the off-season, but he is still a very limited player who cannot play a position on the field. He has power and a good eye at the plate which results in pitchers issuing many walks to him. He needs to boost his batting average, however, if he is to remain the Mets’ DH.

A more useful option for the Mets is another highly touted prospect in their organization, outfielder Mark Vientos. He can provide needed outfield depth and has shown he can handle big league pitching. Like Brett Baty, Francisco Alvarez and Ronny Mauricio, Vientos will begin the season in central New York State. He should not be spending much time there.


There is no point in sugarcoating things. The loss of Edwin Diaz is a major blow, and the Mets did little to improve their offense from last season.

Until proven otherwise, the Atlanta Braves are still the best team in the National League East. To quote wrestling legend Ric Flair, “In order to be the man, you have to beat the man!” The Mets have yet to prove they can beat the Braves when the money is on the line.

The Philadelphia Phillies turned their season around when they replaced Joe Girardi with Rob Thomson as their manager last June. They were the hottest team in the National League when the playoffs rolled around and gave the Houston Astros all they could handle in the World Series.

Phillies General Manager Dave Dombrowski was not content to rest on his laurels. He traded for relief pitcher Gregory Soto, who may be for the Phillies what Edwin Diaz was for the Mets. He signed arguably the best free agent player, shortstop Trea Turner, whose talents were on full display for Team USA during the recently concluded World Baseball Classic. In addition, he strengthened the Phillies bench by signing infielder Josh Harrison. The Phils did lose a key player during spring training for the year when first baseman Rhys Hoskins tore his ACL.

The Miami Marlins have some exciting young players led by reigning National League Cy Young Award Sandy Alcantara and second baseman Jazz Chisholm. Historically, they have given the Mets fits, but it is doubtful they are ready to compete in the National League East. That probably will not change unless team owner Bruce Sherman starts increasing payroll dramatically. Reportedly, that was the reason Derek Jeter left the organization.

Three years ago, the Washington Nationals were the defending World Series champions. It now feels like three thousand years, given how they have gutted the team.

It is hard for me to picture the Mets finishing ahead of either of their two chief rivals, but it is a long season, and anything can happen. After all, this is the 50th anniversary of Tug McGraw’s famous “Ya gotta believe!” statement.