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The Highlight Gang Gets Deleted

Admittedly, that new Cuddyer smell that so intoxicated our nostrils [1] when the Mets made their loud November move has grown faint. What’s that they say about vehicles losing their value as soon as they leave the dealership? Our new (technically pre-owned) right fielder hasn’t rolled up one additional mile since he pulled into our garage, yet by being one of the first big signings of the offseason and not being paired by a second acquisition of significant size since — John Mayberry, Jr. [2] and Sean Gilmartin [3] notwithstanding — it’s tempting to think the Mets have done nothing.

Does loitering at a busy intersection count? Because if it does, maybe the Mets have lurched forward a bit by just standing here watching the wheels go by. Since Cuddyer came on board, look who’s gone from our general midst:

• Jason Heyward, from Atlanta [4]
• Adam LaRoche, from Washington [5]
• Jimmy Rollins, from Philadelphia [6]

Those divisional deletions don’t solve all the Mets’ problems or necessarily not create new ones, given the way rosters evolve, but let’s hear it for no longer regularly seeing guys who’ve been showing up in our nightmares like clockwork for far too long.

Heyward. LaRoche. Rollins. Will SNY be able to air Post Game Live after losses without them? Heyward taking away base hits; LaRoche adding to the wrong half of the scoreboard; Rollins summoning ghosts. Their signature work accounted for a good chunk of the National League East’s anti-Mets propaganda highlight reel.

The rest of that film features Giancarlo Stanton dooming us from another stratosphere. He’s not going anywhere, at least until Jeffrey Loria twirls his mustache just before revealing his usual nefarious loopholes [7].

Depending on your rivals to melt around the edges is no surefire way to improve your chances, but if the Mets sought upgrades and couldn’t yet find them, then at least there’s the comforting thought that we’ll have to think less about the guys who’ve been killing us at regular intervals in the preceding seasons. Not that the teams they left behind aren’t capable of unleashing other strains of pest we’ve not yet dreamed of — the Nationals are still the Nationals and never underestimate the Phillies or Braves, even as they retrench — but no more Jimmy Rollins “doing what it takes to win”; no more Jason Heyward “diving and coming up with an unbelievable catch”; no more Adam LaRoche “going deep against Met pitching once again”.

LaRoche is tucked away on the South Side of Chicago. Rollins is a newly minted Los Angeleno. Heyward will still be wearing a distasteful uniform, but we’ll run into him relatively infrequently as a Cardinal. Has the neighborhood grown safer?

I don’t know. Too many Nationals roam the top of the division, the Marlins seem more genuinely dangerous than they have since Miguel Cabrera was young and mobile and it’s impossible to count on the Braves destroying the Braves from within. The winter we got Alomar and Vaughn, they got Sheffield and won the East; the winter we got Martinez and Beltran, they got Hudson and won the East; they’ve lately picked up Shelby Miller and Nick Markakis. Tell me for sure we won’t feel a tomahawk in our back at the hands of Shelby Miller and Nick Markakis. The Phillies, meanwhile, still maintain enough aging Rollins teammates so as to inspire reflexive shudders.

The Mets were getting better when 2014 ended, a season when they had no Harvey, no Syndergaard, no Cuddyer and only a small sample of Flores. They should keep trying to get better ahead of April 6, no doubt. But the part where we don’t have to be exposed to overly familiar nemeses for six series a year apiece…I’m marking that down as the first provisional win of 2015.

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I take refuge inside the Mets Lounge with Taryn Cooper [8] and talk Mets baseball with the Coop. Listen to us staring out the window and waiting for spring here, about 25 minutes in.