New York Mets
Photo Credit: Robbie Noble

Mets 2024 Preview - Get Ready And Be Patient

"I am old, Gandalf. I don't look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can't be right. I need a change, or something." 

~ Bilbo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

When some Mets fans look in the mirror, they still see the Mets fan that believed Lenny Dysktra and Wally Backman would bat atop the lineup forever. They believed Willie Randolph was a good manager and Matt Harvey would recover from his injuries. It hurts to look back, but hindsight is always 20/20, and looking back allows one to think about R.A. Dickey and his brief moment in the sun. A “fast-paced” knuckleball developed midway through a middling career earned the bearded right-handed starter his only All-Star appearance and a well-earned Cy Young Award as a 37-year-old journeyman in 2012.

They remember watching that team, believing that both Jon Niese and Dillon Gee would develop into solid starters. That Ruben Tejada could bat .289 again and provide top-notch defense next to perennial All-Star David Wright. That the Captain would man the Hot Corner throughout his early-30s prime years and return the Mets to the past glory fans had created in my mind.

The glory years of the mid- to late-80s is literally one season - 1986. They would play ‘meaningful games in September’ in the following two seasons, winning the National League East title in 1988, but fans would have to wait another dozen years before another meaningful celebration.

The gap between celebrations is ignored in favor of expected instant gratification despite history books preaching something different. To be a Mets fan means high expectations awaiting to be dashed away by the bright lights of summer. Too many Mets fans live within the moments of failure instead of attached memories to the brief glimpses of success.

Remembering the knee-buckling curveball to Carlos Beltran, instead of the amazing catch by Endy Chavez in the 2006 National League Championship Series. Not going any further than the Wild Card Series in 2022 was painful, but that shouldn’t take away from the joy of experiencing one of the best seasons in franchise history. Fans return back to this because only with age is it easier to realize that nothing is guaranteed and what looks assured one moment can quickly become an unavoidable disaster you’re forced to live with for months.

The 2023 season started with World Series or Bust expectations, even after Edwin Diaz was lost before throwing a pitch in Port St. Lucie. Fans tricked themselves into believing that despite losing the undisputed best closer in baseball, the Mets would be similar if not better than the previous year. It sounds silly with hindsight like a shady billionaire who had never served as a public officer altering national politics by running for president, but Ross Perot wasn’t the first nor would he be the last businessman to change the perception of what should be.

What should Mets fans be in 2024? It’s a one-word answer preached since President of Baseball Operations (POBO) David Stearns took over this winter - patience. Mother Nature provided a taste, forcing everyone to wait a day before unwrapping the start of this year’s marathon despite everyone knowing the visible hurdles before the start. The international signing with actual MLB experience is out until June.

The rotation is balancing upon a stack of folding chairs, dependent on players returning to past success for stability. The core of the lineup is homegrown and proven, but subpar performances last year has cast a shadowed light on their past. So it’s hard to see Francisco Lindor’s 2nd straight Top-10 MVP finish over Jeff McNeil’s fallback to a .270 hitter with little power. 

Power has been Pete Alonso’s calling card. His 192 home runs are the most by any player since his debut in 2019, a stat that has been repeated as part of his unrequested public campaign. Every front office knows what he’s done in his first five seasons and each formed an opinion when Alonso hired Scott Boras as his agent. Those opinions may have changed after this offseason saw five of the mega-agent’s clients ‘settle’ for less than expected. For all the money pundits predicted each player would receive, they’ll start the 2024 season with one year of generational wealth and another chance in the winter for the proverbial ‘bag’.

Mets owner Steve Cohen produced ‘the bag’ for Diaz after a spectacular 2022 season. He gave Brandon Nimmo a similar ‘bag’, keeping the longest tenure player in Queens for the foreseeable future. He’s been called the wealthiest owner in MLB, so much so they’ve named the highest annual salary luxury tax penalty after him. Cohen went over that tax last season after signing Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, then paying more to trade them for future prospects.

He’s paid for a new pitching lab in Port St. Lucie, recently paid roughly $12 million for an aged DH-only in JD Martinez and despite all this spending, fans believe that Cohen won’t open the checkbook for Alonso. Because both player and front office have dismissed questions about the contract until the offseason, why won’t the Mets get the last say about that decision? 

Decisions made about future actions can only lead to regret when the sun actually shines on that day. Who predicted Francisco Alvarez would rise from the minors and establish himself as the catcher of the future? What’s that? Every scout and prognosticator who had the Mets’ backstop as the top prospect in the sport before his debut last summer? So why is that forgotten when it comes to this season’s predictions? It’s much harder to predict a team’s bullpen each year, but with the return of Diaz and most of the parts from last year’s successful squad, why wouldn’t fans look forward to trumpets playing?

Is it just easier to be negative, even as the insects return and early blooming plants show the signs of spring? People hate mosquitoes and cicadas, but this is the season of hope, positivity and change. As fnas prepare for a very long journey, don’t expect to return the same as one can only wish for one last look at this moment of happiness. Whether that’s meaningful games in September or a halfling taking a ring across the world, this is the time when anything is possible and that’s the truth.

Martin Kester hosts The Terminal Podcast at