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Alonso On Opening Day Roster Doesn’t Overcome Team’s Real Issues

One of the narratives which is beginning to emerge is the Mets need Pete Alonso to be on their Opening Day roster because the Mets are a win-now team. Considering how tight the National League East race is going to be the argument is it’s worth carrying him for 16 days and foregoing control over him for the 2025 season. In essence, those 16 days are worth much more than one year of Alonso’s prime.

Putting aside the fact Dominic Smith could potentially be a better option than Alonso to open the season, especially with the Mets facing Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg twice, the question is why has Alonso become ground zero for the Mets doing everything they can do to win?

Since the 2017 All Star Break, Jason Vargas has a 6.04 ERA, and opposing batters have hit .278/.351/.506 against him. At the moment, he is slated for 30 plus starts. Behind him, the Mets pitching depth constitutes a group of pitchers who have posted an ERA over 5.00 as a starter over the last year.

It would seem to be contradictory to say every game counts as a justification to play Alonso 14 games while trotting out well below league average pitching for over 30 games. They’re doing this despite Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel still being free agents.

The Mets entered the offseason with a need for a center fielder. They traded for Keon Broxton, who hit .179/.281/.410 last year while playing in a very hitter friendly park. That would be the only outfielder they added to the 40 man roster this offseason. This left them to consider playing Juan Lagares more, a player who has averaged 68 games over the past three years.

This has led the Mets to consider playing Jeff McNeil in left field, a position he played all of 17.0 innings in Triple-A last year. This has forced Brandon Nimmo into center, a position the Mets had purportedly decided he shouldn’t play at the Major League level. A -5 DRS in 434.2 Major League innings there seem to substantiate the Mets previous decision on that front.

It may not matter anyway because Spring Training injuries to Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie, two players who are over 33 years old, have forced McNeil to third base, a position the Mets did not want him to play last year. Of course, this puts the Mets back towards relying on Lagares and Broxton, which they clearly did not want to do.

Oddly enough, for a Mets team putting a premium focus on 14 games, they ignored the other 148 when it came to building their outfield. In fact, they stood aside when the Braves signed Nick Markakis and the Phillies signed Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen. Don’t forget the Braves also added Josh Donaldson too, which is something to consider if the Mets wanted to go the route of putting McNeil in left field.

The overriding point here is the Mets ignored and cut corners on various part of their roster. They’re gambling with over 30 starts from their rotation. They’re playing an infielder in the outfield hoping he will be able to get up to speed quickly gambling on 162 games at that position. Overall, the Mets are gambling at two key positions over the course of the season.

Yet somehow, the Mets are potentially going to tell us they desperately need those 14 games out of Alonso at first base because, you know, those 14 games at first base matter much more than the fifth starter spot and a starting outfield position over the course of full season.

11 thoughts on “Alonso On Opening Day Roster Doesn’t Overcome Team’s Real Issues”

  1. OldBackstop says:

    Jeezus…..no sugary snacks in your lunch bucket anymore!

    Vargas looks great, lowest ERA of the starters. Dom Smith is also batting well and is a plus glove by all accounts. Alonso has never played in a major league game, only has 300 abs above AA ball, and is subpar on defense. Handing the position to him to watch him hit .215 in April, shaking his confidence (ala Dom Smith) while blowing a year of control would be so….

    …..so Mets. I’ll bet that is what they do, actually.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Don’t cite Spring Training stats to bolster an argument

      1. OldBackstop says:

        You are only singing Alonso’s praise over his ST and AA performances. If he was 0 for 20 in ST we wouldn’t have seen that post.

        Alonso needs to play everyday. With the way the Mets team is constructed, first base is meant to be split. Once Dom is traded or things fall out with injuries some other way, maybe having Alonso there every day will make sense.

        But if you think that the Petey Pixel Dust is going to overcome the damage if virtually benching the other three guys in the mix there, I disagree.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          You’re wrong. My opinions on Alonso are predicated on his whole body of work, and the post was written in response to the push to put him on the Opening Day roster.

          1. OldBackstop says:

            C’mon. There would be no push except for his strong spring.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            The push emanated from his 2018 season

  2. Chuck Rothman says:

    It’s amazing how many people complain about Vargas without looking at his record. Once he came back from injury, he had a 3.81 ERA, striking out 52 in 54 innings (against 16 BB), and an Opponents Batting Average of .223 with a .661 OPS against. His WHIP was 1.12.

    Those are perfectly fine numbers for a fifth starter, assuming only that he stays healthy. And Saberheads can’t grasp the fact that an injury affects a player’s numbers.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      His larger body of work is terrible, and his velocity is down in Spring Training.

    2. BJenks says:

      What about Vargas suggests that he will be fully healthy for the entire year? He is 36 years old has only made 30 starts in 5 of his 14 seasons in the league. Is a fully healthy Vargas a quality 5th starter? Maybe, but nothing suggests that full health is likely for him.

  3. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    And the problem isn’t just Vargas. It’s Matz, Corey Oswalt, and the rest of the unimproved crew the Mets sent out in 2018. Overall the team got 76 starts from starters with below league average ERAs in the starting role. Contenders don’t do that. The Dodgers for example had 3 such starts. The Astros had 1. The Mets had as astounding 76 and did nothing to improve on that–and that’s even though that rotation was significantly healthier than it had ever been before.

    With the uncertainty of Cespedes’ return making signing one of the top FA OFers a potential waste of tens of millions, I can live with an OF of Nimmo-Conforto-Lagares-Broxton as long as the team had added another legit 4th OFer during the offseason, and *as long as they had added a real starting pitcher,* especially given the resources expended on “depth” when they failed, somehow, to actually add an impact player at a position of need or to the rotation. How do you spend $30m over two years on Justin Wilson and Jed Lowrie, barely more than spare parts and depth, when a nifty starting pitcher like Craig Morton was available for an identical price and when you’re going to be giving something like 30 starts to Oswalt, Drew Gagnon, PJ Conlon, et al?

    The Mets failure to recognize their area of greatest need was remarkable, and it’s going to cost them enormously duing the season.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Cost is the reason why the Mets failed to address these areas

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