Take 2011 where two teams completely out of it suddenly made the playoffs and one of them even won it all. It’s impossible to predict baseball. Sure you usually have a pretty good chance of knowing which teams will be good, and which will be bad, but every year dozens of people that watch hundreds of games are completely wrong about who’s going to win divisions.
Despite a handful of games against the Wild Card-leading Atlanta Braves still to come in the last 60 or so games, when the Mets traded Carlos Beltran on July 27th while trailing those Braves by 7.5 games, it was considered the right move. That’s a lot of ground to make up for a team barely above .500, and the long term benefits of trading Beltran were largely considered to outweigh any gutshot chance the Mets had at overcoming that deficit. As it turns out, the Mets were only two games behind the team that eventually won the Wild Card. The St. Louis Cardinals were a mere couple of games better than the Mets at that point, and they even still had head to head games remaining. A lot of things still went wrong for the Mets from that point forward. They didn’t finish above .500 and it’s extremely unlikely that keeping Beltran would’ve made much of a difference. Still, it’s a pretty good example of how you never quite know what it’s going to take to make the playoffs.
That’s what I want from the Mets in 2012 while they get their payroll/revenue balance under control. I’m not demanding they throw money around and attempt to buy a championship, but they need to keep the possibility of a championship open. Put the team in a position so that if most things go right they can make the playoffs. I’m not talking outlandish things like Ruben Tejada putting up a season like Jose Reyes. Jose Reyes plays 140+ games. Jason Bay has a season that splits the difference between his best years and his Mets years. Johan Santana makes 30 starts and is a good, if not great, pitcher. Pagan is more pre-2011 Met than 2011 Met. Josh Thole, Lucas Duda, and Ike Davis progress and have good solid major league years at their positions. Jon Niese takes a step forward. Mike Pelfrey‘s numbers fall more in line with 2010 than 2011. The bullpen guys that get signed, coupled with the ones that remain from last year, perform reasonably well and keep the games from getting away. The biggest one of course is that the Mets stay reasonably healthy.
None of those things are that outlandish. Some are even likely. There are also good things and bad things that will be completely unforeseen. David Wright could break his back again, or R.A. Dickey could decide to live on Kilimanjaro and back out of his 2012 contract. One of the yet unsigned relievers could go on to have an unbelievable shut-down type year, and Mark Cohoon could be promoted from the minors in May and have a Rookie of the Year caliber season. You just never know, so give it a chance and hope and root for more good than bad. We’re certainly due.