Why Have Dom And Rosario Been Handled So Differently?

In 2017, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith were Top 100 prospects, and they both appeared to be cornerstone players for the Mets. They were supposed to join Michael Conforto as the wave of young position players who could help a pitching staff led by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard win a World Series.

As we all know that hasn’t happened, and in all likelihood, it’s not going to happen.

Starting in 2017, we didn’t see the results from either prospect. In 46 games, Rosario hit .248/.271/.394. He had a 75 wRC+, 1 DRS, and a 0.3 WAR. He had glimpses of pure excitement, but he didn’t hit, and his fielding was not the Gold Glove level advertised.

Unfortunately, things have gotten worse for Rosario. Since his 2017 debut, he is hitting .257/.296/.380. He has an 85 wRC+, which is fourth worst among Major League shortstops over that span. As bad as that is, his -22 DRS is the worst among Major League shortstops, and it is the fourth worst of all Major League players. In total, he has a -1.5 WAR.

Despite these struggles and his failing to make noticeable progress from a statistical standpoint, Rosario’s stature with the team has never been challenged. In 2018, the team had Jose Reyes as the backup shortstop and mentor. This year, the Mets entered the season with Luis Guillorme, and they sent him down after just 16 games leaving Rosario as the only shortstop on the roster.

While we have not seen Rosario yet develop, we have also not seen him challenged by the Mets in any way, shape, or form. This is a completely different experience than Smith’s.

As bad as Rosario has been since his debut, Smith has been worse. In 2017, Smith hit .198/.262/.395, and he had a -1.1 WAR. Because of his struggles, the Mets brought in Adrian Gonzalez in a first base “competition.” Smith certainly made things easy for the Mets when he was late showing up for the first Spring Training game.

During the 2018 season, the Mets gave time to Gonzalez, Wilmer Flores, and Jay Bruce at first base while they moved Smith to left field, where he faltered. As the season progresses, Smith saw his status of the first baseman of the future complete evaporate with every Pete Alonso homer.

The end result was Smith obviously being part of the Mets long term plans. Even though he came into Spring Training in phenomenal shape and having made clear improvements to his game, he didn’t get much of a chance to fight for the first base job, one Alonso arguably won anyway. Smith didn’t even get a small chance like Mike Olt once did while the Cubs waited to get an extra year of control over Kris Bryant.

No, the Mets just passed over Smith. They punished him for not being what they hoped he would be. Ironically, he may just be showing the Mets he’s ready to be that player hitting .400/.516/.480 as a bench player and late inning defensive replacement.

Conversely, Rosario continues to struggle. He’s not hitting or fielding well despite being given every opportunity to do so. At some point, the question needs to be asked if Rosario received the treatment Smith received, would he be a better ballplayer now? We don’t know, and we will never know.

The only thing we do know is there were two different sets of rules for Smith and Rosario. One was allowed to struggle, and the other wasn’t. One was challenged, and the other wasn’t. So far this year, one has improved, and the other hasn’t. Time will tell if the double standard will have cost the Mets the future of both players.

0 thoughts on “Why Have Dom And Rosario Been Handled So Differently?”

  1. LongTimeFan1 says:

    I really don’t get the case you’re attempting to make comparing apples and oranges between Smith and Rosario who play different positions and had extreme differences in fitness for much of their pro careers. One took care of his body and runs like the wind, and the other thought it was OK to gain weight after getting drafted at 195 lbs and play as an obese and overweight professional athlete year after year.

    Even after losing weight in multiple offseasons prior to big league spring training, Smith would gain a good deal back during the season.

    He also got injured in 2018 spring training and thus didn’t get opportunity to compete for first base job against Gonzalez and then hit poorly in the minors.

    The move to left field was to give him some playing time. When he was drafted he was told there may be a point in his career in which he’d play the outfield if it fit down the road for the team. Dom’s subsequent obesity made that a no-go until last season. He played serviceable left field but not well enough or perhaps not enough foot speed for the Brodie Mets to repeat the experiment although if up to me, I would have had Dom getting reps in spring training and in practice.

    Overall until this spring training, Dom didn’t demonstrate the maturity expected of a top prospect and major leaguer in a range of ways. Had he properly applied himself over the years when he was the apparent heir to first base, the job would have been his either for the Mets over Alonso or with another team.

    With Brodie’s new player focus of maximizing health on and off the field, Mets have helped Smith shine in his role including through consistent use of CPAP. Smith has now matured and plays an important role off the bench pinch hitting and late game defense both well, but long term as long as Alonso’s healthy and performing., Smith won’t get another opportunity to become Mets starting first baseman.

    The question then becomes do the Mets trade him as a courtesy so he gets a chance to become a major league starting first baseman for and team? Or do they keep him in current role and for a rainy day? We don’t know and the Mets may not either at this time.

    As for Rosario, if he continues with sloppy defense and slow offensive growth, he could find himself back in the minors in favor of Gimenez or Guillorme later this season, on the bench, perhaps traded down the road, or moved to CF. in future years.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Three things on Dom:

      1. It wasn’t maturity issues, it was a medical condition.

      2. Rosario falters and shows regression instead of improvement, whereas Dom gets challenges.

      3. We can make it about one thing or another, but at the end of the day, it’s always about production and player development. With Rosario, production didn’t matter, and with Dom, there wasn’t a sufficient enough investment in his development.

  2. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Meant to say “for another team” not “for and team.”

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