2022 NEW YORK METS PREVIEW The New York Mets have been one of the busiest teams in the MLB this offseason, making significant roster moves both before and after the short-lived lockout. Starting with depth, the Mets added the versatile, switch-hitting infielder, Eduardo Escobar, along with corner outfielder Mark Canha, before making the biggest splash of the offseason by signing three-time Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, and trading for another key piece of the pitching rotation, Chris Bassitt. Despite certain losses that will be covered here, the moves that the new Mets’ front office have made, leaves no doubt that they feel they can compete for a World Series right now. Under similar expectations coming into last season, with yet another significant signing in Francisco Lindor, the Mets and Lindor alike both had disappointing seasons. Even though Lindor was solid throughout the second half of the season, he still finished the year batting only .230 with 10 stolen bases, both career lows for him in a full season of work considering the shortened 2020 season where he only played 60 games. However, Lindor has looked rejuvenated this Spring. He is 10 for his first 34 at bats, with 4 of those hits going for home runs and another two for extra bases. With less pressure on him this season, Lindor is poised to be a very valuable player in a strong Mets lineup and the 4x All Star is already considered to be on his way to a much-needed bounce back season. The Mets only won 77 games last season and were 8 games under .500 to go along with a very disappointing 3rd place finish in the NL East. The Braves, Nationals, and Phillies have all kept pace with the busy Mets front office this season, but only Billy Eppler was able to acquire the prize of the winter, Max Scherzer. Mad Max, who has tormented the Mets while a member of the Nationals from 2015-2020, will now take on an even bigger role with the Amazins’ after the devastating news that fellow multi–Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom will miss a significant portion of the season with shoulder issues. Relying on Scherzer should be no problem, considering he’s never been lower than 5th place in CY Young voting since he won his first one in 2013 while a member of the Detroit Tigers. Many Mets fans and baseball fans in general were excited to see the deGrom/Scherzer tandem terrorize teams at the top of the rotation, but they will have to wait a bit longer until there is more clarity on deGrom. Though losing deGrom for any amount of time is a tough pill to swallow, the Mets have done an excellent job providing more depth behind him in case something like this were to come up. Scherzer obviously being the first, but in what seemed like a surprise to everybody, the acquisition of Chris Bassitt from the A’s proves to be even more valuable than it seemed at the time. Bassitt is a terrific pitcher who compiled a 12-4 record with Oakland last season to go along with a 3.15 ERA and 1.055 WHIP. While he could easily be a number 1 or 2 in most rotations in the league, he was brought to Queens to really solidify the middle of the Mets rotation. He will also get an elevated role, but again, Mets fans shouldn’t have to worry about production out of Bassitt. While the additions have certainly brought a ton of optimism to Queens, the key pieces that remain in place should also see an uptick in value. Pete Alonso should be hovering around the 40 home run range again, and if he can get his batting average up a few points to around the .275 mark, watch out! Edwin Diaz will look to stay true to form as well. The flamethrowing closer looked like his old self last season after a disappointing beginning to his Mets tenure. With Seth Lugo and newly acquired Adam Ottavino at the back of the pen, Diaz will definitely has the support he’ll need going into the 9th inning to close out games. *cue the horns!* There is a lot to look forward to for the 2022 season in Queens. The Mets should see a significant increase in wins from last season, but they are still far from a lock to be the favorites to win the division, despite the fantastic offseason. Even still, the newly established playoff format gives an advantage to a lot of teams in competitive divisions to still make the playoffs, even if they aren’t atop their respective division. The Braves are the defending World Series champions, and will be welcoming back the electric Ronald Acuna Jr to their lineup this season, and even though they lost Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers, they very quickly found a more than serviceable replacement in Matt Olson, who will be in Atlanta for the next 8 seasons. The Nationals have also improved and the Phillies have brought in some key bats to solidify their lineup as well. The NL East will be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball and fans should strap in for the ride, because it is sure to be a fun one! Predictions: Atlanta Braves – 93-69 New York Mets – 91-71 Philadelphia Phillies – 85-77 Washington Nationals – 73-89 Miami Marlins – 71-91
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For those in the know, New Jersey can be a hotbed of culture, creativity, and talent. And now WAJ Magazine is giving readers a chance to get up close and personal with their hometown heroes. This winter's issue spotlights The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation (TMJF), an organization that is making lasting positive change in the community.