With apologies to Walter Becker, native son of Queens… A boy with a plan A natural man Wearing a white Stetson hat Sandy still has his backers in the five boroughs, if only because of the general (and pretty well substantiated) belief that the Wilpons are keeping a tight leash on the finances still. (See Howard Megdal on Sandy’s upcoming book.) Anyone working for the Wilpons, the idea goes, deserves our sympathy. The past winter did nothing to change the narrative. The one move of substance was buying Cuddyer (who turns 36 next week) to play right for 2 years and $21M, instead of trying for possibly sexier, and certainly younger, options like Cespedes or Melky. (Well, unless you count John Mayberry, or Sean Gilmartin on a Rule 5 deal from the Twins, as ‘substance.’) Just the kind of cheap-but-also-too-expensive deal that defines the Mets' decade. No outside solution to the ongoing black hole at shortstop, despite the Tulo fantasies that won’t die in Queens. No using Daniel Murphy as a chip in any deal; instead we’ll all see how much Sandy milks out of the last year of his contract. The general idea, if you look on the positive side, was waiting for more maturation—from Flores at short, from D’Arnaud, from Lagares in center—and hoping for better years from Wright and Grandy, and then pointing to the prospect-rich rotation, and dreaming of 88 wins and a wild card. Because Harvey is back, and what could go wrong? The man in the street Draggin’ his feet Don’t wanna hear the bad news Oh right, I guess other starters could go under the knife. So Josh Edgin (the only lefty in the ‘pen) got slated with TJ surgery early on this spring, and then Wheeler, just a couple of days ago. You could wonder about the TJ epidemic in Queens. You could wonder about Wheeler’s pitch counts last year (and he was not an economical worker, despite his innings being 'held' to 185). Or you could just shrug and call it coincidence. But the rotation without Wheeler suddenly looks less imposing. Colon turning 43? Niese coming off of shoulder problems? Can Gee be consistent? Is deGrom next for the TJ round? And is Syndergaard ready to step in at any point? That Harvey looks good so far means only so much. This rotation is another injury from seeming very fragile. You feel no pain And you’re younger than you realize There are no real optimists in Metsland, but if you try to imagine what they’d be thinking if they existed, you’d say: Harvey every fifth day; Wright coming off a very average year (.269/.324/.374, 8 HRs), regressing upwards; Duda continuing to pound right-handed pitching (28 of his 30 HRs, .915 OPS), and maybe a capable ‘pen, with Mejia closing and Parnell coming back from his own TJ in May. If deGrom picks up where he left off, if Niese and Gee are above-average, and if someone else (Montero? Syndergaard? Steven Matz, a lefty who’s been showing flashes in Port St Lucie?) shows up in June/July to create excitement, maybe those 88 wins aren’t impossible after all. There are all those games against the Phillies and the weakened Braves… Meanwhile, win totals in the CitiField era, 2009-2014: 70, 79, 77, 74, 74, 79 Attendance last year was 53% of what it was in the last Shea year (2008). Mr. Met is getting lonelier.