Asdrubal Cabrera

Mets April 2016 Report Card

The Mets finished an interesting month that saw them finish 15-7. Over the course of the month, they received contributions from everyone, well almost everyone. They finished in second place only a half game behind the Nationals. 

Below are the first month grades for each of the Mets players. Bear in mind, these grades are on a curve. If a bench player gets an A and a position player gets a B, it doesn’t mean the bench player is having a better year. Rather, it means the bench player is performing better in his role. 

Position Players

Travis d’Arnaud  (F). Overall, d’Arnaud struggled offensively and defensively. He’s on the DL now with a shoulder injury. It’s the worst possible start to the season he could’ve had. 

Kevin Plawecki (C-). Plawecki has only seen limited duty.  While he did get a big game winning hit in his second start of the year, he hasn’t done much from that point forward. Furthermore, he’s not making a case he’s fit to take over full time for d’Arnaud whenever he does come back. 

Rene Rivera (Inc). He played in only one game.

Lucas Duda (C-). While Duda did have one hit streak, he hasn’t done much in other games. He had a .294 OBP. He’s not seeing the results from his new leg kick. At least he did throw out a runner at home. 

Neil Walker (A+). He led the league with nine homers. He’s even hitting lefties. Walker has been far better than anyone could’ve expected. 

David Wright (B). Wright went from being a corpse to being the Wright of old to just old. He’s having problems on his throws. With all that said, he’s still getting on base at a decent .354 clip, and he remains the Mets best 3B option. 

Asdrubal Cabrera (A). Cabrera has been better than expected. He’s hit like he did in the second half last year. Even if his range is limited, he’s made every play he should’ve made at SS. 

Wilmer Flores (D). He was woeful at the plate hitting .107/.194/.214. This grade would’ve been lower except he’s only played in 12 games, and he’s shown himself to be a terrific defensive first baseman. 

Eric Campbell (F). He’s seen even less time than Flores, but he’s also done less on those opportunities. 

Michael Conforto (A). He’s consistently been the Mets best player. When Terry Collins moved him to the third spot in the lineup, both he and the team took off. Even more amazing is the fact he has the potential to do more. 

Yoenis Cespedes (B+). Cespedes had a rough start to the season, but he seems back to the form he was in last year. In the field, he still shows limited range for center while still having that cannon of an arm. 

Curtis Granderson (B-). Granderson experienced the same slow start he experienced last year but without the walks. He’s started to turn things around and return to his 2015 form. 

Juan Lagares (A). He’s hitting lefties and his incredible defense has returned. 

Alejandro De Aza (C) Aside from one incredible game in Cleveland, De Aza hasn’t hit much. However, when you play limited time that one game does carry a lot of weight. 

Pitchers 

Matt Harvey (D). This was the year he was supposed to completely fulfill his potential as the staff ace. So far, he’s 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA. There may be a million valid excuses for the slow start, but ultimately we’re judged by performance. On the bright side, he’s pitched much better his last two times out. 

Jacob deGrom (A). With decreased velocity and troubles at home, the results are still where they are supposed to be. 

Noah Syndergaard (A+). He’s throwing harder than anyone in the majors, and in a very short time frame, he’s become the staff ace. 

Steven Matz (B). His last three games were spectacular. However, his first start was horrendous, and it really jammed up the bullpen. 

Bartolo Colon (B+). He’s back doing Bartolo Colon things out there from great defensive plays to the helmet flying off his head when he swings. He’s poised to eat up innings again while feasting on lesser competition. 

Logan Verrett (A+). When deGrom couldn’t pitch, he stepped in and made two great starts. He’s also pitched well out of the bullpen.

Jeurys Familia (B-). He’s perfect in save chances, but he’s been shaky at times. He’s allowing more baserunners than usual.  In his last three outings, he does seem to be returning to form. 

Addison Reed (A-). Reed has recoded six holds and one save. His WHIP is 0.973 and his K/9 is 11.7. Would’ve been an A except for one blown save in Cleveland and one rough appearance on Saturday. 

Jim Henderson (A-). Henderson went from non-roster invitee to locking down the seventh inning. He’s been all the Mets could’ve asked for and more. His WHIP is a little high, and as we saw from Collins, he’s susceptible to overuse. 

Hansel Robles (A). Collins has asked him to pitch on seemingly every situation imaginable, and he’s succeeded. 

Jerry Blevins (A). He’s really a LOOGY, and he’s limited lefties to a .158/.158/.211 batting line. When he’s been asked to do more, he’s performed admirably. 

Antonio Bastardo (A). We’re a month into the season, and he still has no clear cut role. Based upon his usage, it appears Terry Collins views him as the worst reliever in the bullpen. Even with all of that, he has pitched very well. He sports a 2.61 ERA. 

Rafael Montero (F). He’s only appeared in two games, but he was dreadful in those two games. He sports a seemingly low 11.57 ERA. It was clear Collins didn’t trust him in the bullpen. Montero the went out and proved Collins right. 

Manager

Terry Collins (C-). His team struggled to start the year, but he got things on track. He’s managed Wright’s back, and he’s found ways to get his reserves into games to keep them fresh. With that said, his early lineups were ponderous, and things didn’t turn around until he fixed the lineup. Additionally, his use of Henderson was egregious. 

Mets Powered by Grandy Slam

Before the game, Matt Harvey declared he figured out his mechanical problems, and that he was back. He took no chances as the Mets ore the traditional road grays instead of the blue alternates he prefers. The Mets need him to be back because he has not resembled the Matt Harvey we’ve seen:

First inning, Harvey came out guns blazing. He got three quick outs, including one strikeout. After the first, it was a struggle. It could’ve been the same problems he’s had all year. It could’ve been the delay due to the need to change home plate umpires due to the home plate umpire getting injured on a foul tip. In any event, Harvey’s pitches were up. His velocity was generally down (about 1-2 MPH), and the Braves were making solid contact.

Fortunately, the Braves were only able to score runs in the second. The first was an RBI single by old friend Kelly Johnson. Another run would score off an RBI double by Mallex Smith. Harvey would be in trouble most of the night. He would’ve allowed more runs in the fifth but for Yoenis Cespedes’ arm:

Keith Hernandez was right. He missed the cut-off man, but it was a near perfect throw that got the runner. It reminded me of Major League when Lou Brown essentially said to Willie Mays Hayes to never do it again.
Cespedes also left his impression at the plate with his seventh game with an extra-base hit. In the seventh, he hit an RBI double to score David Wright, who hit an opposite field one out double himself. Cespedes came up gingerly after sliding awkwardly into second. It should’ve been a standup double, but he didn’t break it out of the box presumably thinking it was a homerun. A noticeably uncomfortable Cespedes stayed in the game despite the a Mets having a 6-2 lead. He would eventually have to be pulled:

Curtis Granderson was responsible for the other five. In the second, Granderson hit his first grand slam as a Met. In his very next at bat, he hit a solo shot off of Braves’ starter Bud Norris. Granderson looks to be rounding into his 2015 form after a tough start.

The Mets’ bullpen would come through to get Harvey his first win of the year. Antonio Bastardo pitched 1.2 innings before needing to be pulled with runners on first and second. Jim Henderson only faced one batter – it was the seventh after all- and he allowed an RBI single to Adonis Garcia. Jerry Blevins came on and ended the rally by striking out A.J. Pierzynski. Blevins was the only one to get Pierzynski out all night.

After about an hour rain delay, Addison Reed came on to pitch the eighth. Originally, it was supposed to be Blevins, but the rain eliminate that option. Reed pitched a scoreless eighth despite a throwing error from Asdrubal Cabrera.
Jeurys Familia had a save opportunity in the ninth because God has a good sense of humor. With Cespedes out if the game, Terry Collins allowed Michael Conforto hit against Eric O’Flaherty. Conforto hit a soft liner to the shortstop, and Juan Lagares was doubled off of second for the inning ending double play. It didn’t matter. Familia pitch a scoreless ninth to preserve the 6-3 win.

In any event, Harvey struggled. He only pitched five innings allowing seven hits, two earned, one walk and five strikeouts. He fought through it. He still had work to do, but at least he has a win under his belt.

Game Notes: Freddie Freeman got his first hit in 20 at bats against Bastardo, who Collins was trying to pitch for two innings. While Harvey was struggling, Travis d’Arnaud tried talking to Harvey in the dugout. A visibly frustrated Harvey wanted none of it.

On another note, Ricky Bones was the pitching coach. Dan Warthen missed the game because he was attending his mother’s funeral. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Warthen family at this time.

Mets Gave This Game Away

These are the games that can be the difference between winning the division and the Wild Card. These games are the difference between making the postseason and playing golf. There’s no excuse why the Mets are 3-3 through six games against the Phillies. There’s no excuse why the Mets couldn’t hit a terrible Phillies bullpen. 

This Mets offense hit 12 home runs in three games. The problem was they didn’t hit one after the fifth, and they struck out 17 times. 

The Mets hit back-to-back home runs in three consecutive games. That was the first time it happened in Mets history. Lucas Duda was involved all three times.  That’s another way of saying Duda hit a homer in three consecutive games.  In essence, the Mets got hot, and their offense is working as intended

It’s gotten so absurd that the Mets were scoring runs on plays that appeared to be homeruns. The first run came off of what was originally ruled a three run homerun off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera. Upon review, we had a Todd Zeile situation crossed with a Jeffrey Meier situation. It was changed to a groundrule double scoring one run. The next run would score on a wild pitch from Jeremy Hellickson

Bartolo Colon would relinquish the 2-0 first inning lead in the second allowing a two run homerun homerun to Freddy Galvis. The Mets fell behind 3-2 when David Lough hit a sac fly in the fourth. You know it was a deep fly because it scored Ryan Howard. Overall, Colon would pitch six innings allowing three earned, one walk, and four strikeouts. 

Colon had a chance to get the win because Yoenis Cespedes and Duda hit back-to-back homeruns in the fifth.  Colon didn’t get the win because the Mets bullpen blew the lead in the seventh. 

Jerry Blevins started the inning, and he allowed a one out double to Lough.  Addison Reed then came in and allowed Peter Bourjos to hit the game tying RBI single. After allowing the inherited runner to score, Reed got out of the inning. Antonio Bastardo came on and pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth. Terry Collins tabbed Jim Henderson after Bastardo even though it wasn’t the seventh inning. Henderson was able to navigate around a leadoff single. 

Hansel Robles pitched the eleventh, and he would take the hard luck loss. He allowed a leadoff double to Galvis. He would advance to third on a wild pitch. It was a wild pitch, but it should be noted it hit d’Arnaud in the pocket of his mitt before popping out. In any event, Robles appeared like he would get out of it. He survived a suicide squeeze due to a foul tip. He got to two outs. He got Bourjos to pop it up foul. Wright made his way over and he missed it. Wright had to contend with the wall, but he had room, and he missed it. Later in the at bat, Bourjos hit a ball down the line, which Wright fielded. However, Wright doesn’t even throw out someone with Bourjos’ speed even before spinal stenosis. 

Plain and simple, the Mets gave this game away. They need to do better against these second division clubs. The Nationals certainly are. The Mets will get their chance this weekend as they travel to Atlanta. 

Game Notes:  This was the Mets first extra inning game of the year.  David Wright might need the day off on Thursday after getting the Golden Sombrero today. It was the first time all year Wright hasn’t reached base.  He went 0-6.  Travis d’Arnaud seems to have put the early season nightmares behind him going 2-5 with two doubles. 

Unsurprisingly the Mets Are Built on the Homerun

When Sandy Alderson, J.P. Riccardi, and Paul DePodesta were first hired by the Mets, everyone assumed the Mets were going to be recreated in the image of the high OBP Scott Hatteberg Oakland Athletics teams. 

However, upon reflection of what the Alderson regime has done here, the team has been more focused upon power than they’ve been on OBP. That philosophy was on display last year when Yoenis Cespedes came aboard, and it’s on display again this year:

Over the offseason, the Mets brought in three players to play everyday. There was the aforementioned Cespedes with his career .320 OBP. Cespedes also hit 35 homeruns last year while slugging .612 as a Met. Neil Walker has a career .336 OBP, but he averages 16 homeruns per year. He led all Major League second basemen in homeruns last year. Asdrubal Cabrera was signed to be the new shortstop. He has a career .329 OBP, but he did hit 15 homeruns last year. 

That’s not to suggest the Mets do not value OBP. This is the same team that did choose Lucas Duda over Ike Davis, in part because Duda got on base more frequently. Rather, it shows the Mets put more emphasis on homerun power than OBP. The Mets aren’t looking to clog the bases and manufacture runs. Rather, they are looking for players that can change an inning or a game with one swing of the bat. 

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. 

Let’s re-examine that fabled 2002 Oakland Athletics Moneyball team. As we know, they actively sought out players like Hatteberg because they were undervalued and could get on base. That year, the Athletics ranked fourth in the AL and seventh in the majors in OBP. The same year, the Athletics ranked fourth in the majors (and the AL) in homeruns. While the Athletics no longer had Jason Giambi, one through nine, their lineup still had players that could hit the longball. The OBP got the headlines because it was a shift in how people viewed baseball, but the homeruns are what powered that Athletics offense. 

The Athletics being powered by the longball wasn’t anything new or groundbreaking. It was what powered the Athletics when Alderson was the GM. From 1988 – 1990, the Athletics went to three World Series winning one. In 1988, the Athletics were ranked second in the majors and the AL in homeruns. Their rankings slipped in 1989 to seventh in the AL and eleventh in the majors, in part due to injuries like Jose Canseco‘s wrist, but the Athletics rose back up the ranks in 1989. In 1989, the Athletics were ranked third in the AL and fourth in the majors in homeruns. 

Overall, Sandy Alderson, J.P. Riccardi, and Paul DePodesta have built teams that hit homeruns. Even if everyone expected different, this regime is doing what they’ve always done, and that’s building an offense based on their batters hitting homeruns. By the way, when they’ve successfully accomplished this goal, they’ve won a lot of games and went to the postseason. 

Time to Call-Up Matt Reynolds 

Due to the stress Jacob deGrom‘s injury and Steven Matz‘s short start out on the bullpen, the Mets were forced to call-up Rafael Montero to add a fresh arm to the bullpen. Rather than out deGrom on the DL or demote another pitcher, the Mets sent down Eric Campbell. Even with deGrom looking more and more like he will miss his next start, the Mets still won’t put him on the DL. Essentially, the Mets robbed Peter to pay Paul. 

With a weekend Interleague series in Cleveland, the Mets can get away with a short bench. While it does limit their ability to pinch hit and make defensive substitutions, they should be able to navigate the situation because they won’t have to pinch hit for a pitcher. However, come Monday, they’re back to playing National League ball, and they’re going to need a full bench. 

Whatever your feelings on Campbell is, he’s not going to be eligible to be recalled. Unless deGrom (or someone else) goes on the DL, Campbell will have to spend 10 days in the minors. Looking over the Mets 40 man roster, there would be three eligible candidates: Dilson HerreraMatt Reynolds, and Brandon Nimmo. Now with one extra spot left on the 40 man roster due to Zack Wheeler being on the 60 day DL, the Mets could recall another player like a Ty Kelly

In reality, the decision is between Reynolds and Kelly. Nimmo isn’t quite ready, and even if he was, the last thing the Mets need is another outfielder. Herrera still hasn’t started playing games in the field yet due to a sore shoulder, and even if he has been, the Mets see him as the second baseman of the future. They’re not wasting service and development time for him to be on the bench. 

Kelly is 27 years old, and he has yet to play in the majors. He plays second, third, and the corner outfield positions. He’s a very disciplined hitter, who is extremely selective at the plate. For reasons that aren’t completely clear, he’s spent five seasons in Triple-A, and he’s never played a major league game. Overall, the truth really is Triple-A is his ceiling. At best, he’s a AAAA player. 

Even if that assessment was wrong, it’s still not time to call-up Kelly. First, the Mets would have to add him to the 40 man roster and would not be able to denote him unless he clears waivers. Additionally, his skill set doesn’t match what this team needs. There’s no room for him in the outfield. Terry Collins is going to play Neil Walker almost everyday. So in essence, while Kelly has some versatility, the positions he plays do not match the Mets’ needs. 

Accordingly, Reynolds is the player the Mets need to recall. During Spring Training and this early minor league season, Reynolds has played every infield position but first. His addition to the major league roster would create more flexibility across the infield. It would permit Collins to sit both Asdrubal Cabrera and Lucas Duda in the same game. Additionally, it would permit Collins to double switch with any player with the full knowledge that there’s another player on the bench who is fully capable of playing any position should another double switch be needed or there was an injury. 

Offensively, Reynolds is a right hand batter who profiles better at the next level than Kelly. He’s not as patient as Kelly, but then again no one is. Reynolds profiles as a gap to gap line drive hitter. He does have more pop in his bat than Kelly. More importantly, at the very least, Reynolds projects as a bench player. 

If Reynolds is going to wear a Mets uniform past smiling and waiving before Game One of the NLCS, he’s going to be a super-utility man in the mold of Flores or Joe McEwing. Reynolds has worked hard at it during the offseason and Spring. He knows this is his future, and he’s fully embraced it. 

Better yet, he’s scorching hot right now. He’s hitting .353/.476/.529 with a homerun in five games. In those fives games, he’s played second, third, and short.  At this point the only plausible reason for not calling up Reynolds is the Mets want to have a short bench. 

Reynolds has earned his shot, and he’s playing well. It’s time for the Mets to call-up Reynolds. 

Mets Power Their Way Back into Form

It’s amazing how a well constructed lineup and the offense exploding in one inning can make you feel a lot better about the Mets. 

The biggest surprise was seeing Michael Conforto batting third moving Yoenis Cespedes and the rest of the lineup one spot down in the order. Conforto promptly rewarded Terry Collins’ faith by hitting a first inning homerun. 

In the game changing fifth inning, the Mets sent all nine batters to the plate, and they would show off their Feats of Strength starting with Alejandro De Aza‘s blast off Indians starter Cody Anderson. The Mets would score five runs off three homers surpassing their 2016 total:

In addition to De Aza, Cespedes and Neil Walker homered in the fifth. Walker hit his batting right-handed to boot. When Walker’s hitting from the right side, you know it’s a good night. 

Right now, Cespedes is just scorching hot. He’s not August 2015 hot, but he’s hot. He was 3-5 with a run, double, homerun, and two RBI. He’s once again showing us all he can carry an offense when he gets hot. 

Bartolo Colon was the beneficiary of all these runs. For most of the night, it looked like he would need each and every single one of those runs and more. In the first, Colon gave up what was initially ruled a two run homerun to Carlos Santana. Upon review, it was ruled just foul, and Santana was able to navigate his way out of the first with the game tied 1-1. 

That’s how most of the game went for Colon. He was in and out of trouble for most of the night. With that said, he was able to pitch 5.1 innings allowing eight hits, two runs, one walk, and five strikeouts. He was bailed out of the sixth inning jam by Antonio Bastardo, who pitched a perfect 1.1 innings. Hansel Robles pitched a scoreless seventh. Addison Reed pitched a scoreless eighth, and was thrown out there for the ninth with no save situation on the line. 

For some reason with a four run lead, Collins still wouldn’t pitch Rafael Montero. After Santana finally got his two run homerun off Reed with two outs in the ninth, Collins tabbed Jeurys Familia to pitch in his fourth straight game and get the save. He struggled with his location and command. Familia allowed consecutive hits, which couple with a d’Arnaud passed ball, made the game 6-5. After walking Uribe, who represented the go-ahead run, Jose Ramirez popped out. Familia somehow managed to preserve the 6-5 win. 

With the 6-2 win, Colon not only got his 219th win against the team with whom he broke into the majors, but he also tied former Met and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez for the second most wins for a Dominican born pitcher. Hall of Famer Juan Marichal has the most with 243. 

While Wednesday was a breath of fresh air for just getting off the snide, tonight was a much better night. The Mets offense showed their capabilities by out get together good at bats, collecting hits, and hitting for power. 

Game Notes: The Mets had two runners thrown out at the plate. The second was De Aza trying to score from first on a single. De Aza was the surprise starter in CF with Cespedes DHing due to a sore knee from jumping in the stands. Like Colon, it was a homecoming for Asdrubal Cabrera as well. He had a nice night going 1-3 with a walk, strikeout, and hit by pitch. Curtis Granderson had a well hit single in his final at bat, which he desperately needed. Travis d’Arnaud is still struggling going 0-4 with a strikeout. Old friend Juan Uribe went 3-4 with a double and a walk. 

What Type of Mets Fan Are You?

The season has gotten off to a rocky start and increasingly, it is becoming apparent that there are two types of Mets fans – Optimistic and Pessimistic. Here’s the breakdown:

Optimistic: the Mets won in 1969 and 1986. They win in years which have a 6 in them. It’s 2016!

Pessimistic: Tell that to the 1962 – 1968 Mets and the 1976 Mets. Also, someone probably should’ve told that to Carlos Beltran when he didn’t swing the bat. 
Optimistic: The ’86 Mets began the year 2-3, and they lost two games to the Phillies. 

Pessimistic: The 1992 Mets were also a high profile team people thought were World Series contenders that opened the year 2-3. By the way, the 1986 Phillies were a decent team. The 2016 Phillies are horrendous. 

OptimisticYoenis Cespedes seemed to get off the snide. He went 2-4 with a homerun and two RBI. 

Pessimistic: He’s still batting only .200, and did you see him drop that ball in Kansas City?

Optimistic: The Mets have the best ERA in baseball. 

Pessimistic:  Matt Harvey has been terrible. It’s only a matter of time before we discover Jacob deGrom needs surgery or he will be out half the year. By the way, the Mets have the best ERA, faced an awful Phillies team, and they’re still under .500. 

Optimistic: The bullpen has been off to a terrific start. 

Pessimistic: You must’ve missed yesterday’s game when Addison Reed melted down like it was Game 5 of the World Series. 

Optimistic: David Wright has looked good to start the year. 

Pessimistic: His throws have been terrible, and he’s already had to miss a game. 

OptimisticNeil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera have looked great up the middle. 

Pessimistic: Anything would’ve been an upgrade. By the way, they’re not hitting, and it hasn’t translated to wins. Speaking of wins, the Nationals are 3-1. Coincidentally, they have Daniel Murphy, the guy who carried the Mets in the postseason, is a National. He’s hitting .462/.611/.923. 

Optimistic: This team is built to win the World Series, and I’m going to enjoy every single part of the ride. 

Pessimistic:  I don’t know what team you’re watching. 

This Was What Game 6 of the World Series Would’ve Looked Like

Aside from the fact that Curtis Granderson didn’t hit a homerun, Opening Day sure felt like a repeat of the 2015 World Series. As the late Yogi Berra would say, “It’s déjà vu, all over again.”  We had the following:

  1. Yoenis Cespedes failing to make a routine play in the outfield leading to a run;
  2. A good Matt Harvey effort getting wasted;
  3. The Royals taking advantage of a poor Mets defense; 
  4. Michael Conforto being really impressive; and
  5. The Mets losing. 

For all the debating over the course of the offseason regarding Terry Collins leaving in Harvey, we got a taste of what Game 6 would’ve looked like. It wasn’t pretty. It really highlighted what the Royals did well, and the Mets did poorly. 

The main difference between these teams is fundies (as Keith Hernandez puts it), defense, and a little bit of luck. Cespedes drops an easy out off the bat of Mike Moustakas, and he later scores on a single past Asdrubal Cabrera, who showed off his limited range at short on the play. Eric Hosmer‘s bunt stays fair while Juan Lagares‘ goes foul. Yes, it would lead to a run. Alex Gordon hits one off the end of the bat falling just out of the reach of Lagares to score a run. It was as frustrating as the World Series. 

Since the Mets lost, let’s start with the bad. Mainly, it was David Wright. He couldn’t hit a fastball. He was 0-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. The last strikeout was in the ninth with the tying run on third. He made a couple of plays in the field, but he was able to get absolutely nothing on his throws. While it’s still early, and you don’t want to overreact to anything. However, with Wright’s back, I’m not sure it overreacting. 

Also, the home plate umpire wax terrible. He was calling strikes in the area where Noah Syndergaard goes when he’s standing 60′ 6″ away, but over the plate was called a ball. Even worse than that was the ESPN brand new telecast. They delayed the start 40 minutes for an already late 8:00 start. They did inane segments like “The Mendoza Line” and Aaron Boone imitating batting stances. Even better, there were all-in on the Royals. When the Mets got something going in the 8th, they were being Royals-esque. 

This is also Opening Day – a time when anything is possible. A time when we are supposed to be full of hope. There were definitely reasons for hope. 

Harvey was good. The stat line wasn’t pretty with him allowing four runs (three earned) with eight hits, three walks, and only two strikeouts in 5.2 innings. However, his stuff looked good, and he really wasn’t helped by his fielders. 

Conforto was 2-2 with a double and two walks. Last year was a fluke. He’s a much better player than he showed he was last year. Another good sign was the Mets offense that was asleep for almost all of Spring Training, woke up in the 8th and made it a game. The rally was highlighted by a Lucas Duda two run bases-loaded RBI single. 

Sadly, the 8th inning rally fell short as the new double play combination make the outs killing the rally. In the ninth, we yet again saw Wade Davis and record the save, stranding the tying run on third, and locking down the 4-3 win. It was as frustrating a loss as you could’ve imagined. However, the Mets can build off of this. There was nothing you can point to tonight that would make you believe the Mets aren’t World Series contenders. 

It’s time to dust themselves off. Continue to work on things during their off day, and go to the next ace in the fold in Game 2. 

Eric Campbell Will Make the Opening Day Roster

Going into the 2016 season, there was only thing missing from the roster – a backup first baseman. 

However, fans were told to rest assured because there was a solution on their roster. The Mets were going to teach the position to Wilmer Flores. They were going to give a first baseman’s glove to their two catchers, Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. This would not only allow the team to have additional options at first, but it would also allow them to find more at bats for their two young catchers over the course of a season. Opening Day is a little over a week away. Guess how many combined games these three players have played at first base this Spring?

One. 

Just one. Flores finally played a game there, and he described the experience as “weird.”  He was only there because Lucas Duda couldn’t play yesterday. It’s probable Flores will get one other game there. The chances the catchers will get a game there now are slim to none. It’s just one giant wasted opportunity. 

Sure, the Mets had Flores workout with Keith Hernandez at first base this Spring. In that sense, the Mets didn’t waste the time they had this Spring. However, there is just no substitute for game experience. Worst yet, they just wasted opportunities to get Flores game action at first. Marc Krauss, who shouldn’t play one game with the 2016 Mets, has played 15 games this Spring. 

With so much on Flores’ plate this Spring, this was bound to happen. He had to prepare to become the main backup at each and every infield position. He had to work to become a better, more patient hitter at the plate. With David Wright‘s back, he has to be as ready as possible to play third. With Asdrubal Cabrera‘s injury coupled with Ruben Tejada‘s release, Flores had to spend time being sure he was ready to play shortstop. First base just fell by the wayside. 

This all means one of three things:

  1. Duda is going to play 162 games;
  2. The Mets are comfortable with Flores at first regardless of his lack of game time there; or
  3. Eric Campbell is going to make the Opening Day roster. 

Each passing day, it appears more and more likely that Campbell will be on the Opening Day roster. He’s played 17 games this Spring. Unlike Flores, he has played multiple games at first. Despite fans’ opinion of him, the Mets organization is bullish on Campbell’s abilities as a versatile bench player. 

So, it’s most likely that the Mets have always seen Campbell as the backup first baseman. It would be the most plausible explanation why the Mets failed to expose Flores to first base for the vast majority of Spring Training. Conversely, if Campbell isn’t going to make the roster, the Mets have wasted Spring Training with respect to their inability to give Flores game action at first. 

The most likely result is Eric Campbell making the Opening Day roster. 

Tejada’s Time With the Mets Should Be Short

I’m sure Jedd Gyorko could be the answer to many questions. However, I’m fairly positive he’s not the answer to the question, “Who should be your starting shortstop?”

With the injury to Jhonny Peralta, Gyorko is the Cardinals starting shortstop. Unless the Cardinals make a move, Gyorko will be the shortstop for the next two to three months. Now, Gyorko was never anything more than an average second baseman which a career -1.5 UZR over his three year career. That doesn’t bode well for his chances to be a good to adequate shortstop. Like most, I’m assuming if any team can make it work, it’s the Cardinals. 

With that said, it’s a good time for the Mets to call the Cardinals. From all the reports this Spring, it appears that the Mets might be looking to move on from Ruben Tejada. It’s probably the right move too. 

Last year, Tejada had an impressive finish to the season. Although never mentioned as such, he was part of the reason why the Mets rallied to win the NL East. His gruesome injury in the NLDS was a rallying cry for the Mets and Mets fans throughout the postseason. However, he’s on the last year of his deal, and he’s an expensive backup eating up a spot on the 40 man roster. 

The Mets right now have absurd depth at the shortstop position. Asdrubal Cabrera is penciled in as the starter the next two years. Wilmer Flores grew into the role and handled the position very well when pressed into shortstop duty again in the postseason. Former second round pick Matt Reynolds is competing for a utility role in the majors. On top of that, the Mets have two big shortstop prospects in Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario. Long story short, the Mets don’t need shortstop depth. 

What they do need is 40 man roster space. So far, Jim Henderson is having a nice Spring and may be on the inside track to locking down a spot on the Opening Day bullpen. The Mets are talking about letting Kevin Plawecki start the year in AAA. This means, as of right now, Johnny Monell would open the year as the backup catcher. There’s a problem with Henderson and Monell making the Opening Day roster. 

Neither player is on the 40 man roster, and the Mets have no spots open. Even if the Mets placed Zack Wheeler on the 60 day DL, the Mets would still need to drop someone else from the 40 man roster to add both Henderson and Monell. This could be accomplished by trading Tejada. 

It seemed like Tejada turned a corner last year. Unfortunately, with one dirty play he is back on the bench, and frankly, occupying a roster spot the Mets need. It may not seem fair. It may seem cruel, but it’s time for the Mets too move on from Tejada. They should do it now with the Cardinals having a need, and the Mets wanting to maximize the return they would receive for Tejada.  

Editor’s Note: this article also appeared on metsmerizedonline.com