The Mets will open the season against the Washington Nationals

WASHINGTON – It’s a lot different about the Mets since 2016, when they last entered the playoffs. The lineup is inevitably changing, but the Mets overhaul goes much deeper. They have, to name a few important figures, a new manager, a new general manager and a new team owner – the last of that crowd makes the biggest difference in the direction of any franchise.

The past decade for the Mets has been more defined by losses and dramas than victories and steady successes. The Mets, whose last World Series title came in 1986, have entered the playoffs only twice since 2007. But after a winter of further reconstruction, one of the most anticipated seasons in the team’s recent history is here, set to begin against the Nationals Thursday night. Washington, DC There are many reasons to be more bullish towards the Mets than in the past.

For so long under previous owners, the Wilpons, the Mets have languished in the National League rankings and on the Major League Baseball payroll despite playing in the United States ’largest media market.

But under second-year owner Steven A. Cohen, a hedge fund manager with a reported net worth of over $ 15 billion, the team now has the richest majority owner in MLB and is acting accordingly. Only the constant conflicts of the Los Angeles Dodgers ($ 293 million, for luxury taxes) have a higher payroll in MLB than the record-breaking Mets franchise brand of $ 286 million.

When healthy – currently a challenge – the Mets have two of the best right-handed baseball pitchers, Jacob deGrom, 33, and Max Scherzer, 37, each of whom has won several Cy Young awards. While deGrom could be out for months due to a shoulder injury that diminishes the team’s chances, the Mets received encouraging news on Thursday about Scherzer’s taut tendon and plan to make his debut for the Mets on Friday. And fortunately for the Mets, in March they replaced the Oakland Athletics with right-handed starting pitcher Chris Bassitt, All-Star in 2021.

To further improve the team going into this season, the Mets together spent $ 254.5 million on outfielder Starling Marte, outfielder and first baseman Mark Canch, infielder Eduardo Escobar and Scherzer. They complement a roster that includes key players who played solidly or failed last year: first baseman Pete Alonso, second baseman and outfielder Jeff McNeil, shortback Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Taiyuan Walker.

“We just want to play great baseball,” said Scherzer, who won the 2019 World Cup with the national championship, before Thursday’s game. “There are a lot of talents here. A lot of moves have been made out of season to bolster the talent here. It is up to us to come together as a team and as a club house and to play well as a team and give the best we can. We need a good start from the beginning. “

Mets general manager Billy Eppler has never made a playoff team in five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, but has proven capable of attracting some of the best players in baseball. (He lured two-way star Shohei Ohtani, 2021’s Most Valuable Player, to Anaheim, California, Japan.) Mets manager Buck Showalter, who has 0.506 percent career victories in 20 seasons with four different teams, is the most experienced skipper ever. have been employed for some time.

“He’s really, really organized,” said Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who didn’t start the season on Thursday due to a stiff neck. “He is precise. He will be ready. I don’t think we will lose the game because Buck was not ready. “

Nimmo is cheerful by nature, but at the beginning of this season, he pointed out that the team that brought together Cohen and Eppler is extremely talented, which is why he was “really optimistic”. Speaking about the new players, Nimmo said: “these guys have a long record of success in the big leagues and good success in the big leagues.”

The play-off field has been expanded to 12 teams from 10 in a new sports contract, but the Mets division, NL East, will be firm. The Nationals are rebuilding, but the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies have invested quite a bit of money on upgrades this winter. The Phillies didn’t spend much on defense, but added powerful sticks to outside players Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber for a total of $ 179 million.

The winning team will be Atlanta, the current World Series champion. Despite allowing longtime star Freddie Freeman to go through a free agency, Atlanta has a record $ 206 million in the franchise after a series of moves, from trading with Athletic to first baseman Matt Olson (and signing on an eight-year eight-year payroll of $ 168 million extensions), re-signing outfielder Eddie Rosari and adding former Dodgers closer to Kenley Jansen.

“It’s going to be a tough division and there’s a lot of good teams and talent,” Scherzer said. “Everyone has to be at their best.”

That will include Tylor Megill, 26, on Thursday. Since deGrom was injured just before the opening, Scherzer had a minor tendon injury and Showalter did not want to mess with the schedule of other starting pitchers, the Mets turned to Megill, with 18 career starts, for the task of the first day.

But after two seasons alternated by a pandemic, a labor dispute between the MLB owner and a player that nearly jeopardized the 162-game regular season, hectic spring training and a rush of franchise remodeling activities, the Mets were simply excited to start a new hope of the season.

“Everyone will be looking forward to winning a game or two under their belt and getting into the routine,” Showalter told reporters at the visiting manager’s office in Nationals Park before Thursday’s game. “Everyone is here. It was like that …, ”his voice trailed off before he continued,“ And I’m trying to keep in mind how different what we’re doing right now. It’s been a while. “

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