If someone had told me a couple of years ago that in 2013, R.A. Dickey and Jose Reyes would be two key pieces on a contending team, Carlos Beltran would be batting second for a perennial winner and Angel Pagan would have a World Series ring as the leadoff hitter on the defending champs, I would be looking forward to the 2013 season a lot more than I am now.
At least the Mets found the money to lock up David Wright. And while I'm sorry to see Dickey go, the Mets by all accounts got a great prospect haul for him. The improving farm system finally offers hope for the future.
The worst thing about spring training was Johan Santana tearing his shoulder capsule again. I hope Santana is able to pitch again, even though it won't be for the Mets.
This year's Opening Day lineup, featuring the sad outfield of Lucas Duda, Collin Cowgill and Marlon Byrd, may be scary only to Met fans, but the Opening Day lineup in 1983 gave little hint that the team would become a 90-win contender the following year:
CF Mookie Wilson
SS Bob Bailor
1B Dave Kingman
LF George Foster
3B Hubie Brooks
RF Mike Howard
2B Brian Giles
C Ron Hodges
P Tom Seaver
This lineup was notable for the all-too-brief return of Seaver to the Mets. It also features someone I confess I have no memory of - Mike Howard. And no wonder - it turns out that Howard is one of just three major-leaguers since World War II whose last game was as a starter on Opening Day. ESPN's Mark Simon wrote about Howard in 2011.
Even with the May 6 callup of Darryl Strawberry, who would go on to win Rookie of the Year, and the June 15 trade for Keith Hernandez, the 1983 team still won only 68 games. But in 1984, Darryl and Keith played a full season for the Mets, the team added Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fenandez to the rotation and Wally Backman took over at second base. Still to come were trades for Gary Carter and Bob Ojeda, as well as other moves and callups.
So even if Wheeler and D'Arnaud come up during the season and are anywhere close to the second coming of Doc and Darryl, any comparison to the mid-1980s Mets will have to wait until we see how willing the Mets are to acquire established stars such as Carter along with top prospects.
The 1983 Mets opened against the Phillies, who would go to the World Series that year. The Phillies lineup featured future Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Steve Carlton, along with all-time great Pete Rose. And the Mets, behind 38-year-old Tom Terrific, won, 2-0.
There's always hope on Opening Day. Let's Go Mets!