Mets manager Terry Collins: “If we play up to expectations… we’ll be playing in October.”

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It’s been a while since the Mets were in a position to hurl pre-season smack talk. Carlos Beltran was the last to fire a volley before the 2008 season to then-Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who had the previous season declared the Phillies the “team to beat”. Beltran said, “So this year, to Jimmy Rollins, we are the team to beat.” Obviously, things didn’t go as planned. The Mets haven’t been to the post-season since losing the 2006 NLCS to the Cardinals.

Mets manager Terry Collins delivered the closest thing to pre-season smack talk as the Mets have had in a while, saying that if the Mets play up to expectations, “we’ll be playing in October.” Via ESPN’s Adam Rubin:

Regardless, he indicated Saturday that he believes the Mets are a playoff team.

“Absolutely,” Collins said. “We’ve got to go play. But when you look at the back of the baseball cards on the 25 guys or 27 guys we think have legitimate chances, they’re pretty impressive. The addition of Michael Cuddyer, the addition of John Mayberry on that bench, the rotation — just because we haven’t been a playoff team in the past doesn’t mean we don’t have good pitching. We have very, very good pitching. So we should match up against a lot of teams.

“Now we’ve just got to go play. It’s all about execution. As we’ve seen in the past, there are teams that were world champs and the next year they’re in last place. And there are teams that were in last place that the next year they’re in the playoffs. If we play up to expectations and what we think are the caliber of players we have, we’ll be playing in October.”

Though the Nationals have gotten better with the additions of Max Scherzer, Yunel Escobar, and Casey Janssen, the NL East isn’t exactly strong, so an argument can be made that the Mets are the second-best team in the division going into spring training. During the off-season, the Mets brought in Michael Cuddyer, one of few transactions made to bolster a roster that went 79-83 in 2014.

Giancarlo Stanton to make return from IL this week

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Per The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said outfielder Giancarlo Stanton may be activated from the injured list on Wednesday. Stanton will “certainly” be activated on Thursday.

Stanton, 29, has appeared in all of nine games this season due to knee and calf injuries. The calf injury struck first during the opening week of the season. He wouldn’t return until June 18, then played in a whopping six games before a strained PCL in his right knee sent him back on the IL. But if there was ever a time for Stanton to make his triumphant return, it’s right before what the Yankees hope is a deep postseason run.

In the nine games Stanton has appeared in this season, spanning 38 trips to the plate, he has hit .290/.421/.419 with a double, a homer, seven RBI, and four runs scored.