During Spring Training, Paul Sewald and Ben Rowen have emerged as real possibilities for the Opening Day bullpen. The issue with adding either player to the Opening Day roster is neither reliever is on the 40 man roster. Moreover, there is currently no room on the 40 man roster. Therefore, if the Mets want to carry either Sewald or Rowen on the Opening Day roster, the team is going to have to make a roster move.
The first possibility is putting David Wright on the 60 day disabled list. At this point in time, Wright is still not throwing, and there is no known timetable as to when he will be able to throw. Accordingly, it is eminently possible he will need an extended stay on the disabled list. If so, putting Wright on the 60 day disabled list would open up one spot.
The issue arises if Wright does not need a stay on the 60 day disabled list or if the Mets were going to look to add both Sewald and Rowen to the roster. To that end, there are some players who could be moved off the roster.
Normally, this is where most Mets fans would point to Rafael Montero. However, Montero has pitched quite well this Spring. It’s more than the 2.70 ERA. Montero has been trusting his stuff more, and he has been pounding the strike zone. As a result, we are finally starting to see what the Mets have seen with their decision to keep Montero on the 40 man roster all these years. Now, if you are keeping Montero, this means someone else is going to need to be removed from the roster.
The most likely candidate is Josh Edgin. Prior to his Tommy John surgery, Edgin could throw 95 MPH. With his fastball, he dominated left-handed batters, and he could hold his own against right-handed batters. Post-surgery, Edgin is throwing in the high 80s to the low 90s. He has not been the same pitchers since, and the results are no longer there. He’s also struggling this Spring. With him being out of options, it’s hard to justify having him block someone else’s path.
Erik Goeddel is another Mets reliever who struggled in 2016 that is also struggling in 2017. Last year, Goeddel pitched through bone spurs, and he had a 4.54 ERA. Unfortunately, things have not been better after the surgery. Goeddel does not seem to have his command or velocity, and as a result, he has posted a 9.95 ERA in seven appearances.
Another pitcher who struggled last year and is struggling in Spring Training is Sean Gilmartin. Gilmartin was a terrific long man in 2015 to a pitcher without a role last year. He bounced back-and-forth between Triple A starter and major leauge reliever. He did not handle the transition well. Now, he is struggling yet again posting a 6;75 ERA.
Certainly, the Mets could hope that Edgin, Goeddel, or Gilmartin rebound in 2017. However, those hopes are not going to stand in the way of the team putting together the best possible bullpen they can put together on Opening Day.
It’s a fact of life that if you are supremely talented, you get away with more than other people. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. However, what is baffling is when people who aren’t even that good get away with stuff.
Take Jose Reyes.
Last year, Reyes was a .267/.326/.443 hitter in 60 games for the Mets. If you’re being honest, that is much worse than you would have thought considering the fanfare that surrounded him last year. Over the past three seasons, Reyes has been a .279/.321/.400 hitter who averages 21 stolen bases a year. While people are arguing that he’s the Mets best leadoff hitter, he’s not even good enough to play everyday. Certainly, his 96 OPS+ and his 96 wRC+ will tell you he is a below average hitter. Basically speaking, the argument should be whether he should be batting eighth or if he should be playing at all.
However, he is playing because David Wright can’t right now. He’s playing because Wilmer Flores is a platoon bat, and the Mets refuse to admit a guy who hit .239/.293/.371 against right-handed pitcher last year is every bit the platoon bat Flores is. The Mets are also not willing to give T.J. Rivera a shot at the third base job due in part to his OBP fully ignoring Reyes’ .321 OBP the last three years. Gavin Cecchini won’t get a chance to play third because he’s never played there before. Of course, that didn’t stop the Mets from playing Reyes there last year.
Simply put, there is a wide chasm between the Jose Reyes that was a superstar with the Mets from 2003 – 2011 and the player Reyes is now. Consider in Reyes’ first stint with the Mets, he was a .292/.341/.441 hitter who averaged 25 doubles, 11 triples, nine homers, and 41 stolen bases a year while playing a good defensive shortstop. Now? Reyes doesn’t have the same ability to hit, the same speed, or is that good defensively. Also, consider the distraction Reyes is.
Last year, Reyes was arrested for allegedly beating his wife. The only reason the case did not go to trial was because Reyes’s wife did not cooperate with prosecutors. After serving a suspension and being released, Reyes found himself back on the Mets. It was that rare second chance. Still, Reyes could not be on his best behavior.
Now, we find out, much like Bartolo Colon, Reyes has another family. Apparently, in addition to allegedly beating his wife, Reyes also has an alleged history of cheating on his wife. He also has a child with his paramour, who claims that not only does Reyes not see his child, but he also does not pay sufficient child support. Reyes’ attorneys state he has met his obligations. Reading between the lines, this may reference child support, which is still to be determined, but not in terms of being an actual father to his other daughter.
Look, it could be a case of someone trying to maximize upon Reyes being back with the Mets. The child support claims could be patently false. However, it does not change the fact that it gets harder and harder to root for Reyes. It does not change the fact that Reyes is no longer a good baseball player . . . that is unless you expect him to be that rare middle infielder whose game is predicated upon speed to get better during a season in which he turns 34 years old.
At this point, you have to ask yourself, what’s next with Reyes? How much longer can the Mets put up with this nonsense? Turns out, it will be quite a while because the team is only paying him $507,500 this year.
The funny thing is the Mets once took a stand against stuff like this like they did when Francisco Rodriguez attacked his girlfriend’s father. For that, the Mets put him on the restricted list. Then again, the Mets found their courage there because K-Rod was making a little over $12 million back in 2010. Perhaps if K-Rod was making the league minimum, the Mets would have ignored that situation as well.
So, despite the Mets having legitimately better options, and Reyes possibly serving as a distraction, the team will keep the cheap player because in reality the Mets only really have the courage to do the right thing when they owe a player actual money. It’ll be interesting to see the Mets no comments or diversion tactics if something else happens with Reyes. Based on recent history with him, you can’t discount that from happening.
On the dawn of the World Baseball Classic, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard made some waves when he stated, “I’m a Met. Ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or the World Series playing in the WBC.” (Abby Mastrocco, nj.com).
Judging from attendance at Spring Training, Syndergaard’s belief is not something that is universally shared in the Mets clubhouse. Jose Reyes is one of the few major league players that have appeared in all four WBCs. He is joined on the Dominican Republic team by Mets relievers Hansel Robles and Jeurys Familia.
Fernando Salas threw his first pitch this Spring for Mexico. Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini have been stars for Italy. Seth Lugo and T.J. Rivera, two players arguably fighting over the last spots on the Opening Day roster, are playing with Mets back-up catcher Rene Rivera for an undefeated Puerto Rico team. Ty Kelly is both fighting for a potential roster spot and for a spot in the semifinal for Israel.
Point is, while Syndergaard doesn’t believe in the importance of the WBC, many of his teammates do. That includes team captain David Wright, who said, “Everybody has their right to their own opinion, and obviously Noah doesn’t think too highly of it. But I do. So I’m not sure if it’s just a different mentality, and I’m not sure if there’s a right or a wrong. But getting a chance to represent your country, and put that jersey on, and hear the chants of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A’ — that’s one of the highlights of my career. (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).
It should be noted Wright wasn’t calling out Syndergaard like the time he and Bobby Parnell threw Syndergaard’s lunch in the garbage. He wasn’t singling out Syndergaard either noting other great players like Clayton Kershaw have opted not to play in the WBC without having to face the same scrutiny Syndergaard has. Rather, Wright was merely trying to speak to what the WBC has meant to him.
It certainly was one of the highlights of Wright’s career. In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Wright sent USA to the semifinals with a walk-off hit against Puerto Rico. In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Wright would loom even larger. He hit the decisive grand slam against Italy that helped propel the United States back to the semifinals. In the 2013 tournament, Wright hit .438/.526/.750 with two doubles, a grand slam, and 10 RBI. Wright was named as the third baseman to the All WBC Team. If not for his intercoastal injury before the semifinals, who knows if USA wins the WBC that year?
Among USA players in WBC history, Wright is second all-time in games played, third in hits, second in doubles, and first in RBI. He is a ,333/.400/.458 hitter in WBC history. He had two huge go-ahead late inning hits that propelled the USA into the semifinals. It is why Wright was dubbed Captain American. Overall, you cannot discuss the greatness of Wright’s career without mentioning the WBC.
It is an event that has mattered to Wright as much as any moment in his career. As Wright said, “Up to this point if you say, ‘Hey, what’s the most fun you’ve had on a baseball field?’ I’d say the World Series. But I would say in the conversation of cool things that I’ve gotten to do on a baseball field, the World Baseball Classic is toward the top of that list for sure.”
Overall, during Spring Training and the WBC, Wright has been noticeably absent. As his health issues continue to linger and keep him off the field, the 2013 WBC and 2015 World Series seem farther and farther away. However, those moments should not serve as the epilogue to a great career for a great Met. Rather, they should serve as highlights.
Deep down, each and every Mets fan must hope Wright has another chapter left in him. It may not happen in the WBC. It may happen in the World Series. And it may just happen this year.
Last year, we saw Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and T.J. Rivera become significant contributors to a Mets team who claimed one of the two National League Wild Cards. Their contribution was as pleasant as it was surprising. In fact, no one truly could have predicated the slate of injuries that befell the Mets last year. This year? Well, that’s a different story all together.
With David Wright already questionable for Opening Day, and the Mets prospects performing better in Spring Training than many originally anticipated, many fans question not if, but when will we see these prospects contributing for the Mets. With that in mind, here are five prospects, who have yet to appear in a major league game, we may very well see at Citi Field in 2017.
Once Akeel Morris was traded to the Braves for Kelly Johnson, Roseboom became the closer for the Binghamton Mets last season. Roseboom blossomed in the role and made it an eight inning game for the B-Mets. He saved 14 out of 15 games while posting a 1.87 ERA in 52 games on the year. From July 2 to the last regular season game on September 5, Roseboom held opponents to a .130/.193/.383 slash line, and a 0.92 ERA. This work has caught the Mets attention, and he was a non-roster invitee giving the Mets coaching staff an opportunity to get an up close look at him.
At a minimum, he could very well be the second left-handed reliever the Mets covet in the bullpen. With the struggles we have seen from Josh Edgin this Spring, that could be sooner rather than later.
#2 Paul Sewald
What is interesting about Sewald is his terrific results have not gotten him the attention he deserves. Seemingly every pitcher struggles in Las Vegas, and yet in the second half, Sewald converted 10 save opportunities while posting a 1.85 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. While naysayers will point to his high 80s to low 90s fastball, Sewald has clearly shown the ability to get batters out even in the most difficult of pitching environments. As teams go through multiple relievers year-t0-year, it may only be a matter of time before Sewald finally gets his well earned chance to pitch in the majors.
This Spring, we have already seen Wright become questionable for Opening Day, and Lucas Duda need shots in his hip and have back spasms. For a Mets infield that already had injury questions to start the season, things are already progressing quite poorly. The Mets have talked about experimenting with Jay Bruce at first. Wilmer Flores has already shown he can be part of an effective platoon there as well. Neither player is the long term answer. That’s Smith.
Smith is a terrific fielding first baseman who reported to his first major league camp in the best shape of his professional career. So far, the only concern about him is if he will hit for power. He quieted some of those concerns in the final 58 games of the season. During that 58 game stretch, Smith hit .355/.426/.537 with 16 doubles, one triple, seven homers and 42 RBI. Extrapolating that over the course of a 162 game season, that would translate to 45 doubles and 20 home runs. That type of production can definitely play at first base especially when Smith has the promise to do even more.
#4 Amed Rosario
Across baseball and the Mets organization, Rosario has been dubbed a superstar in the making. The only question is when his star will begin shining at Citi Field. Arguably, he is further away from Citi Field than Smith as Smith played a full season in Binghamton last year. Moreover, you probably want to give both players until the All Star Break before you even begin to consider calling them up to the majors. And yet, as Michael Conforto proved in 2015, if you are a truly special talent, you can come to the majors and contribute for a World Series caliber team in the thick of a pennant race.
In Rosario, the Mets have a game changer in the field and at the plate. Should any infielder go down, room can be made for Rosario. Certainly, Asdrubal Cabrera has shown in his career he can play second and third. Also, do not discount the Mets trying to play Rosario at third this season so he can become more versatile, and quite possibly open a spot for him on the major league roster this year.
#5 Chris Flexen
Arguably, this spot could go to P.J. Conlon, but Flexen is on the 40 man roster. Also, Flexen pitched a full season for St. Lucie last year, whereas Conlon only pitched half a season there. Another issue is Flexen’s stuff plays better in the bullpen as Flexen has a mid-90s fastball and a plus curve ball. If the Mets were to be willing to move Flexen to the bullpen, he can rocket through the Mets system.
In addition to Conlon, another name to consider is Corey Taylor. He’s got terrific stuff, and the minor league closer is already drawing Jeurys Familia comparisons. Overall, the Mets farm system has plenty of players who should be able to contribute at the major league level at some point next year. It should give you some hope the Mets should be good in 2017 even if there is a rash of injuries. It should give you more hope that the Mets should be good in years to come.
Editor’s Note: I consulted Michael Mayer while making my list, and he pointed out to me he wrote a similar column for Mets Merized Online. His list is slightly different as he includes Champ Stuart. As Michael is one of the most knowledgeable people on the Mets farm system, please give his article a read as well.
Looking over the Mets infield, there are two things that squarely stand-out. The first is that this is an aging group of players coming off significant injuries. The second is this infield is not a particularly good defensive infield.
John Dewan of Acta Sports, and Fielding Bible fame, projected the Mets to have the worst defense up the middle in 2017. The projection calls for Neil Walker to be a -1 DRS next season, which is what he has averaged over the past three seasons. Asdrubal Cabrera is projected to post a -9 DRS, which is worse than the -7 DRS he has averaged over the past two seasons. While you would certainly want both Walker’s and Cabrera’s bats in the game, certainly, the Mets would benefit by having a better glove in the game when there is a lead late in the game.
That is exactly what the Mets have done with Juan Lagares. After the team acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the 2015 trade deadline, Lagares has served as a defensive replacement late in games. The Mets doing this has served two important purposes. First, it has helped the Mets preserve leads by putting their best defense on the field. Second, it helps save some innings, and by extent wear and tear, on players like Cespedes and Curtis Granderson. It is a large reason why the Mets will be returning Lagares to the same role in 2017.
It is something the Mets should consider for their infield. The issue is the Mets do not have the bench to do it.
Jose Reyes has averaged a -9 DRS at shortstop over the past three years, which would indicate he’s a downgrade from Cabrera. Wilmer Flores had a -10 DRS as the starting shortstop in 2015, and he has a -6 DRS as a second baseman in 576.0 major league innings. The other options being considered for the bench, T.J. Rivera and Ty Kelly, are hardly terrific defenders in their own right. Certainly, you are not taking the steady handed Walker and Cabrera off the field for them.
No, the only good defensive player who is a realistic option to make the Opening Day roster is Matt Reynolds.
Reynolds is not a gold glover in the middle infield. However, he does have the same steady hands Walker and Cabrera have while having better range at the position. He certainly has the arm to play second, short, and third. That also makes him an option to take some innings away from David Wright at third. Overall, Reynolds is most likely the best defensive infielder the Mets not named Amed Rosario. The fact that he is also capable of serving as the team’s fifth outfielder makes him an all the more enticing roster option.
What is going to hurt his chances of making the team is his bat. He hit .225/.266/.416 in 47 games with the Mets last year. He has played 254 games in the hitter’s haven that is the Pacific Coast League, Reynolds has only hit .284/.342/.411. Overall, he’s not a great hitter. It’s quite possible that even with him putting in extra time with Kevin Long he will never develop into a good hitter.
But the Mets don’t need hitters. They have plenty of them on this team. What they need are good defenders. With Lagares, they have that in the outfield. With Reynolds, they would have that in the infield as well.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online
* adapted from “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” by Dr. Seuss
When I leave home to go to Citi Field,
Dad always says to me,
“John, keep your eyelids up
And see what you can see.”
But when I tell him where I’ve sat
And what happened each at-bat,
He looks at me and sternly says,
“You did not see all of that.
Stop telling such an outlandish story.
Juan Lagares cannot cover that much territory.”
Now, what can I say
About what I saw today?
All the long way to the game
And all the way back,
I’ve looked and I’ve looked
From the outfield to the bat rack,
But all that I’ve noticed,
Except the green infield,
Was d’arnaud and Matz
At Citi Field
Yes, the Gazelle is fine,
He gives batters a migraine,
There’s another marvelous pitcher
Who’s stuff is much more insane.
The story could be so much more
If the pitcher I saw were Thor.
An orange and blue capped pitcher’s fastballs are profound,
Rumbling like thunder from the mound!
No, it won’t do at all . . .
There’s another with the ball.
Zack Wheeler is better;
He’s come back round,
And he’s ready to for a start
On the Citi Field mound
Hold on a minute!
There’s something wrong!
The bullpen is the place for this dealer
It’s off to the bullpen for Zack Wheeler,
It’d be much better, it might,
If the start went to the Dark Knight.
But it isn’t too late to make one little change.
This story is about Yoenis Cespedes! No longer on the driving range!
He’s got plenty of power and size,
You can see the opposing pitcher with fear in his eyes.
A then, the sound system emits a loud tone,
Cespedes the Lion King! Perched high on a throne!
Say! That makes a batter that no one can heel,
When I say that I saw it at Citi Field.
But now I don’t know . . .
It still doesn’t seem right.
A Cespedes swinging a bat that’s so light
Would hit balls around in the air like a kite.
But he’d look simply extreme
With a great New York Mets team!
A team that’s that good should have someone to see it,
Wins coming so fast, the Nationals finding it hard to keep near it.
Nationals always the trailer! They’ll be out of their mind
Not even Daniel Murphy can get them out from behind.
But now is if fair? Is it fair what I’ve done?
Before they take the field, they’ve already won.
That’s really too heavy a load for one beast;
I’ll give him some helpers. He needs two, at least.
Michael Conforto to do the trick,
To guide them after the intentional walk schtick –
It takes a lineup to do the trick.
They’ll never lose now. They’ll race at top speed
With Curtis Granderson, himself, in the lead.
The Manager is there
And he thinks it is grand,
And he raises his hat
As they rise from their seats in the stands.
The Manager is there
Sandy Alderson too,
All waving big banners
The stands are becoming a zoo.
And that is a team whose championship is sealed
When I say that I saw it at Citi Field!
With a roar of its motor an airplane appears
The pitcher steps off the mound and everyone jeers.
And that makes a story that’s really not bad!
But it still could be better. Suppose that I add . . . . . . . . .
. . . A David Wright
Who can stay upright . . .
A big Duda
Swinging sticks . . .
A Jacob deGrom
And his garden gnome . . .
No time for more,
Cespedes’ coming home.
He swung ’round third base
And dashed towards the plate,
The Mets ran up the steps
And I felt simply GREAT!
FOR I HAD A STORY THAT NO ONE COULD YIELD!
AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT AT CITI FIELD!
But Dad said quite calmly,
“Take the parking pass off the windshield
And tell me the sights
That you saw at Citi Field”
There was so much to tell, I JUST COULDN’T BEGIN!
Dad looked at me sharply stroking the beard at his chin.
He frowned at me sternly from there from the front seat,
“Was there nothing to look at . . . no great feat?
Did nothing excite you or make you jump out of your seat?”
“Nothing,” I said, now becoming more even-keeled,
“But a Matz pitching to d’Aranud at Citi Field.”
Last year’s story “One Strike, Two Strikes, Three Strikes, You’re Out!” can be found here
Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!
Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise David Wright is not going to be ready for Opening Day. No one realistically knows when Wright is going to be ready to play this year. With that in mind, the Mets now have an open roster spot on the Opening Day roster. On the 40 man roster, the Mets have T.J. Rivera and Matt Reynolds. Ty Kelly would also be an option should the Mets be willing to make a 40 man roster move, which could include putting Wright on the 60 day disabled list.
The argument for Kelly would be the fact that his switch hitting ability would present the Mets with a left-handed hitting option for a team that promises to have a completely right-handed bench. His versatility in the field may also prove to be important. With that said, if you are willing to make an important roster move for Kelly, why not go ALL-IN and bring back Kelly Johnson.
Over the past two seasons, Johnson has hit .260/.319/.441 with 14 homers and 37 RBI in 131 games. Over those 131 games, Johnson has played every position for the Mets except pitcher, catcher, and center field. He could prove to be a very important player for the Mets.
Fact is, Johnson has been vitally important to the Mets over the past two seasons. In 2015, he was able to serve as an everyday player until the team got healthy. In 2016, he worked diligently to become a better hitter with him hitting .268/.328/.459. When Neil Walker went down, he and Wilmer Flores joined to make an extremely effective platoon at second base. As we’ve seen, he’s also capable of playing third, which just became an important issue again with Wright being unable to play on Opening Day.
Frankly, it is surprising that it would come to this for the Mets to make a move to add Johnson. This is the same player the Mets have traded prospect after prospect for in successive years. The ultimate reason these trades were necessary was because the Mets had built flawed, if not weak, benches heading into the 2015 and 2016 seasons. While the Mets bench in 2017 promises to be deeper than year’s past, it is still flawed for the aforementioned reasons. The addition of Kelly Johnson would go a long way in resolving the issues the bench currently has.
Right now, the Mets have a need for another bench player. There is a veteran who has not only played well coming off the bench, but he has also played well in New York. Both are more difficult than many believe, and that is why a player like Johnson is important. Realistically speaking, with Sandy Alderson already telling the media, the Mets are “all-in” this year, he should put his money where he mouth is and re-sign Johnson.
That’s what teams who are all-in do when a need arises.
It would take a minor miracle if the Mets Opening Day lineup lasts the full season. It is very likely that one of Lucas Duda (back), Neil Walker (back), David Wright (body), or Asdrubal Cabrera (knee) doesn’t have a stint on the disabled list. With that in mind, the Mets infield depth is going to be more important than ever. Fortunately, they seem to have more choices than they have ever had in the past:
2016 Stats: 60 G, 279 PA, 255 AB, 45 R, 68 H, 13 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 24 RBI, 9 SB, 2 CS, .267/.326/.443
In many ways, it was the Reyes of old last year with the electricity on the basepaths which created a buzz in both the dugout and the stands. There are two areas of caution with Reyes. He had a poor .326 OBP which is not an outlier as Reyes’ OBP over the past three seasons is .321. The other issue is he struggled against right-handed pitchers hitting .239/.293/.371 off of them last year. With that said, Reyes does seem rejuvenated being in a Mets uniform, and he can now completely focus on baseball giving hope for much better results.
2016 Stats: 103 G, 335 PA, 307 AB, 38 R, 82 H, 14 2B, 16 HR, 49 RBI, SB, CS, .267/.319/.469
Simply put, Flores mashes left-handed pitching having hit .340/.383/.710 with 11 of his 16 home runs off of them. While fans have soured on him as a shortstop, he still can capably handle all four infield positions. Based on the numbers, when there is a left-handed pitcher on the mound, the Mets needs to find a way to get him in the lineup. When there’s a right-handed pitcher, the Mets would be better off looking in another direction.
2016 Stats: 33 G, 113 PA, 105 AB, 10 R, 35 H, 4 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, .333/.345/.476
In September, we saw that Rivera can not only hold down a position due to injuries. More importantly, we know he can rise to the occasion. While he may not walk enough to justify putting him in the everyday lineup, his ability to hit can justify his presence on a major league roster. Those justifications are only enhanced when you consider he is also capable of playing all four infield positions.
2016 Stats: 47 G, 96 PA, 89 AB, 11 R, 20 H, 8 2B, 3 HR, CS, .225/.266/.416
Whereas the aforementioned players primarily rely on their bats, Reynolds is a terrific defensive player. In one game last year, he surprised us all not by playing a representative left field, despite never playing there previously, but also by hitting a monster home run to give the Mets a lead.
2016 Stats: 4 G, 7 PA, 6 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 2 2B, 2 RBI, .333/.429/.667
Cecchini is a promising hitter who should be able to hit for more power as he ages. Despite having all the tools, he has struggled as a shortstop. Those struggles along with the rise of Rosario, Cecchini should find himself playing second base next year. With the increased versatility, he should be able to help the Mets at either second or short if the need arises.
2016 MiLB Stats: 120 G, 527 PA, 479 AB, 65 R, 155 H, 24 2B, 13 3B, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 19 SB, 8 CS, .324/.374/.459
With Rosario it is just a matter of time before the shortstop of the future becomes the Mets everyday shortstop. With a little more seasoning, he may become a superstar. There’s no limit to his talent. He just needs a little more seasoning in Las Vegas. Depending on when or if someone goes down, the Mets may want to call up their best prospect to the majors. Once he gets called up, the Mets are going to have a hard time justifying sending him back down.
As seen above, the Mets are much deeper in the infield than they have been in year’s past when players like Eric Campbell were making the Opening Day roster. In the case of Cecchini and Rosario, one injury may just open the door for them to claim the position not just for 2017 but for years to come.
While the Mets have a terrific Opening Day infield on paper, the infield that may materialize later on into the season may be even better.
Recent reports state the Mets and Neil Walker are in the midst of extending Walker’s current one year $17.2 million deal into a three year deal that may be worth north of $40 million. Now, if Walker is truly healthy and capable of repeating the numbers he put up in 2016, this deal could very well be a massive discount for the Mets. But, we don’t know if he can. It’s one of a few reasons why this may not be the time to extend Walker.
Declining Production Against RHP
Much has been made about the turn-around Walker had as a right-handed hitter. Overall, he was a completely different hitter from that side of the plate. The improvement from the right-hand side of the plate masked Walker’s three-year decline as a left-handed hitter:
- 2014: .269/.339/.491
- 2015: .276/.337/.456
- 2016: .266/.333/.433
Now, it is possible this was the result of the back issues. It also could be the result of what could be the natural continual decline of a now 31 year old player. Fact is, it is too soon to know, and if that is the case, how can you re-invest in that player?
If Walker was not extended, he is going to be a free agent along with the teams first baseman Lucas Duda. The Mets also have an $8.5 team option on Asdrubal Cabrera. Potentially, the only infielder that could be back next season is David Wright, who no one can count on to play a full season. On the surface, this is very problematic.
Any concerns that are raised by the pending free agents should be alleviated by the depth of the Mets farm system. For example, the Las Vegas 51s infield will be loaded:
Rivera is the least regarded prospect of the group, and we just saw him hit .358/.378/.552 with two doubles a triple, three homers, and 13 RBI when he took over second base in September. Coincidentally, Rivera was put in that spot due to the injuries to both Walker and Wilmer Flores.
Rivera could be competing for a spot at second base with Cecchini, Flores, or possibly Cabrera. If the Mets pick up Cabrera’s option, he could slide to second while Rosario takes over at shortstop. Overall, even without Walker, the Mets have plenty of middle infield options remaining, and that is before you take into account the possibility Jose Reyes re-signs with the team.
Regardless of the infield permutations in 2018, it seems reasonable to assume the infield will incorporate both Smith and Rosario. With those two being major league ready next year, the Mets re-signing Walker becomes much less of a priority.
Signing The Starting Pitchers
The young players being able to step in and contribute is important because these players will be extremely cheap. Whereas Walker would probably demand an average annual value of approximately $13+ million per season, Cecchini, Rivera, and Rosario would cost around $500,000. That’s a significant difference. And the Mets can use that money.
Matt Harvey is due to be a free agent after the 2018 season. Zack Wheeler will be a free agent the following year. Jacob deGrom will be in his final arbitration year the year Wheeler hits free agency. Noah Syndergaard will be arbitration eligible next year, and Steven Matz will be arbitration eligible the following year.
These pitchers are about to become extremely expensive. Considering they are the foundation of the Mets success, the Mets need the payroll room to re-sign them and pay them what they will earn in arbitration. Giving $13 million or more to Walker potentially impedes with the Mets ability to pay their pitching. This isn’t a matter of the Mets still being considered to be on austerity; it is a matter of the Mets only being able to spend so much money.
Walker being paid $13 million certainly stands in the way of that happening. If Walker is not capable of playing everyday, or has diminishing skills like most players in their mid 30s, that will create an even bigger issue.
Walker Is An Unknown
If Walker is healthy, he is an All Star caliber player at second base. Regardless of the prospects in place, Walker certainly gives the Mets a safer choice. In fact, Walker could provide the Mets with a better bat than the aforementioned prospects. For a team that is considered a World Series contender, Walker could be an important piece of the puzzle.
However, no one knows what he will be after his discectomy. He could remain healthy, but he could show some effects of the surgery leading to decreased mobility and power at the plate. He could suffer another herniation leading to him needing more surgery. Presumably, he could show no ill effects, and he could return to form. At this point, no one knows, nor can anyone be confident in what Walker will be when he steps foot in the field.
This may be a case where it is better to see Walker play now and have to pay more later. It would be better to pay a production player closer to market value than to try to get a discount and be stuck with an albatross of a contract the next few seasons. Given the depth of the Mets farm system, you really have to question whether this is a worthwhile or necessary gamble.
In an interview with Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, Jose Reyes said all of the right things. He spoke about how his actions were inexcusable and how he wants to be a better man. After what must have been trying year for both him and his family, Reyes ultimately stated, “You can go through the process and realize what you need to do. I think it helped me to be become a better husband, father and man.”
There is no reason to question the veracity of Reyes’ statements or question his improvement as a husband, father, or man. Reyes and his family are the best arbiters of that. From a fan standpoint, all we can hope is that those statements prove to be true.
While we know many acts of domestic violence remain unreported, there is some comfort there were not repeat incidents . . . at least known incidents. The comfort may be naive, but it could also be the truth of the matter. We simply don’t know at this point.
What we do know is that he has served his time, and he has gone through the requisite treatment prescribed by Major League Baseball. On the surface, it at least appears he came out better for it, which is all you want both as a fan and a human being.
On the field, he is going to be an important part of the Mets. With David Wright still not having thrown the ball, and no one knowing how many games he can play, it appears Reyes will be the Mets third baseman for much of the year. He’s also going to be the primary backup option for Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. Furthermore, with him learning center field during Spring Training, he could help spell Curtis Granderson in center. Overall, while Reyes is projected to be a utility player, he really could wind up playing everyday. He could be the most important player on the roster.
To that end, as Mets fans we all hope he has a successful season. More importantly, we hope he continues what appears to be significant progress with his family.
In 2017, more than anything, I am rooting for Reyes both on and off the field.