Speaking at the 2023 Thurman Munson Awards, Buck Showalter, who was an honoree at the 43rd annual event, discussed his team as he gets set to embark on his second year as Mets manager.
After losing in the Wild Card Series against the San Diego Padres, Showalter and the Mets are ready to start fresh and chase their first World Series championship since 1986. In fact, they've been ready since the last out of their disappointing exit last season.
"I always chuckle when someone says 'it's the offseason,' there's no offseason. We've been going at it since the day after the last game because we want to get a chance to roll the dice again in October," Showalter said. "And it's a competitive place with the best 30 teams of players in the world. So, there's such a fine line of separation and what might appear on paper doesn't matter, you got to go get it."
One player whom the Mets and fans believe will help in this endeavor is Francisco Alvarez.
The 2022 No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, Alvarez made his debut last year towards the end of the regular season and turned some heads with his power. Although he went just 2-for-12, the catcher went deep at Citi Field, hitting a mammoth home run against the Washington Nationals, just like he had done so often in the minors.
Now, it's all about his defense.
"I think he has the skills to be able to say when, not if," Showalter said. "But a lot of it is going to be the defensive part of it and you know what a prospect list is, it's a prospect list and the biggest jump in sports is from the minor leagues to the big leagues in baseball.
"But with that being said, we think Francisco not only has a chance to be a quality player, but a quality teammate and that's the constant thing you hear, how much pitchers like throwing to him and how engaged he is and so that part of it speaks well for him. But he's gonna enter into that area of expectations, so we'll see."
Another player with high expectations this season is Brandon Nimmo, whom the Mets inked to an eight-year, $162 million deal earlier this offseason.
Also an honoree at this year's Thurman Munson Awards, Nimmo figures to slot right back into center field for New York and that leadoff spot that he's called home for the last few years.
But now that he's secured his money, how will Nimmo let those lofty expectations affect him?
"That comes into play more when you go to another organization," Showalter said. "I think he knows how much we respect and know what he's capable of bringing and the things that he's done well. You know you talk about culture, you talk about brand, you talk about who you want to be, you want to be Brandon Nimmo. You want to be the way he approaches the game, his teammates, life in general so we're proud to have him."
As for Showalter, does entering his second year as manager for the Mets bring him any more sense of relaxation?
"Not at all," he said. "Not at all, it's just the opposite. You know the job description and you know what we're trying to deliver here and the grind."
He and the Mets will begin that grind in just over a week when the team begins spring training on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
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