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.
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
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.
Asdrubal Cabrera had a terrific year at shortstop for the Mets in 2016 even if he did not have a good year defensively. Now, there are many things you can point to otherwise to say he did. His .986 fielding percentage was the fourth best in the major leagues last season. Certainly, he passed the eye test as he seemingly never botched a ball hit his way. Moreover, he certainly looked much better at the position than Wilmer Flores looked in 2015.
And yet, despite him looking good out there, Baseball Info Solutions ranked him 29th among the 35 shortstops it was able to rank defensively. Why?
According to Ben Jedlovec, president of Baseball Info Solutions, ““Cabrera makes the plays on the balls he can get to. His issue is more the balls that he doesn’t get to.” (John Harper, New York Daily News).
For those that rely solely on the eye test to believe Cabrera was good defensively last year, Jedlovec has an explanation for that. He states, “Sometimes the things we’re good at perceiving are only part of the picture.”
Now, Baseball Info Solutions has an advantage many fans don’t. They have the time, know-how, and ability to break down each and every play. They factor in a number of variables including ball speed, defensive positioning, and how often a similar play has been made by other players at the position. It is a painstaking process, with admittedly some gray areas. Ultimately, Jedloven says, “We try to be as objective as possible. We have access to multiple (TV) angles, multiple broadcasts. We can slow it down, replay it. If it takes 10 times to get the hit location and the times exactly right, that’s what we do.”
And with that, the end result was Cabrera was a shortstop lacking in range. In fact, over the past three seasons, Cabrera has averaged a -4.9 UZR. And yet, if you are a Mets fan who cannot shake the feeling this data is skewed because you rarely if ever saw Cabrera make a mistake out in the field, you would actually be correct. Over the course of the season, Cabrera only made 11 misplays over the course of the season. Ultimately, this means that although Cabrera has some limited range, he does make up for it with the ability to make the sure-handed plays.
Making the sure-handed plays is one way to offset the lack of range. The others? Well, Sandy Alderson put it best when he said, “Positioning can compensate for range. Nothing compensates for poor hands, except for maybe a really good bat!”
And the good bat is one of the things that stood out for Cabrera in 2016. Once he came off the disabled list, he was perhaps the best hitter in all of baseball hitting .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI. Despite him being on one knee, he helped will the Mets back to the postseason.
So while Cabrera may not have been one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, he was certainly one of the best. Ultimately, he was exactly the shortstop the Mets needed to carry them back to the postseason.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online
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.
Last season, other than Wilmer Flores, Terry Collins showed an unwillingness to move players out of their natural position. With the Mets returning four infielders who each had significant injuries last year requiring stints on the disabled list, Collins may not have the same luxury. To that end, the Mets appear prepared to better handle to withstand injuries next season.
As the Mets report to camp, it appears that each player has come ready to either learn how to play another position or become more proficient at a position they have played in the past.
For starters, Jose Reyes comes into the season having already played shortstop and third base. In addition to those responsibilities, Reyes is going to spend time in Spring Training learning how to play the outfield. As Mets fans remember, Reyes once played second base. Certainly, he can play there in a pinch if needed.
Last year, the Mets were unwilling to move Neil Walker off of second base. This year might be a different story. As Walker reported to Spring Training, he brought a third base and a first baseman’s glove with him. Depending on not only the health of his teammates, but his own health, it is very possible Walker finds himself playing some games away from second.
His double play partner Asdrubal Cabrera has been working away from shortstop this offseason. During Winter Ball, Cabrera played both shortstop and third base. Before Carlos Guillen surprisingly left him off the roster, Cabrera was set to play short and third for Venezuela. Previously when he was a member of the Washington Nationals, Cabrera had played second in addition to short.
While each of these players have infield experience, the Mets are looking to gain some versatility with their outfielders as well. While Collins has largely shot down rumors of Michael Conforto trying first base, it appears Jay Bruce will get some exposure there during Spring Training. This move makes sense for both the team and the player. The added versatility should help the Mets replace Lucas Duda‘s power at first should he suffer another back injury, and the added versatility should help Bruce as he plays his last season before becoming a free agent.
In addition to the aforementioned players, we know that Ty Kelly, T.J. Rivera, and Matt Reynolds can play a multitude of positions as well as left field. Top to bottom, the Mets promise to have a versatile roster.
The versatility helps because it will allow the Mets to keep the best remaining bats in the lineup in case of injury, but it also can clear room for Gavin Cecchini, Amed Rosario, or possibly Dominic Smith to play everyday when/if they are ready. Overall, the Mets are in the best possible situation to withstand injuries now. All that is left is Collins’ willingness to play people outside of their main positions.
That remains to be seen.
With today being Valentine’s Day, it is only right we get into the spirit of things by being as clever as Bobby Valentine was the time he used eye black to make a fake mustache. Without further ado, here are some “clever” Mets themed Valentine’s Day lines you may see on one of those cards you used to pass out to your classmates in grammar school:
Jerry Blevins – Jerry? Hello! Be my Valentine
Josh Edgin – I’m Edgin my way closer to you.
Jeurys Familia – I want to become Familia with your sexy self.
Matt Harvey – If you thought 50 Shades of Grey was seductive, wait until you see the Dark Knight I have in store for you.
Seth Lugo – Lugo you want to get with this.
Rafael Montero – You might as well be my Valentine because we both know there’s not getting rid of me not matter how awful I am.
Addison Reed – You and Me Addison up to a great Valentine’s Day
Hansel Robles – You’re so hot right now
Fernando Salas – If I had to the same again, I would, my Valentine, Fernando
Josh Smoker – You’re so hot, I can see the Smoker from miles away
Noah Syndergaard – Can you handle this god’s thunder?
Yoenis Cespedes – There’s a lot of Potencia between you and I Valentine
Travis d’Arnaud – d’Arnaud it pains me to be apart from you
Lucas Duda – Duda right thing and be my Valentine
Wilmer Flores – I’ll cry if you put me in the Friends zone
Amed Rosario – Don’t Be Surprised Be Ready
Neil Walker – I would Walker 5,000 miles to be your Valentine
David Wright – It’s only Wright we would be Valentines
Jay Bruce – Let me be the Valentine you regret for years to come.
Michael Conforto – It’s a Conforto to know whether in NY or Vegas we’re Valentines
Curtis Granderson – It’s Grandy being your Valentine
Juan Lagares – You’re the only Juan for me
Brandon Nimmo – Nimmo I’m smiling because of you.
Ron Darling – Be my Darling this Valentine’s Day
Keith Hernandez – I mustache you to be my Valentine’s Day OR How about a Valentine’s Day mustache ride?
Happy Valentine’s Day
While most are focused on the bullpen, this Mets team has some other areas it needs to address prior to the start of the 2017 season. One of the main issues facing this team is which player is going to get the last spot on the bench?
At first blush, this may not seem like it is a major issue. If any of the infielders with an injury history go down, it is expected that Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes can more than capably handle any one of the four infield spots. If two were to go down, we have seen enough from both Flores and Reyes to know that they can at least be a good stop gap option at a position. However, lost in the confidence you would have in Flores or Reyes is the fact that once they are moved to a starting position, the player who is the last man on the roster will begin to take on a larger role on the team.
Last year, that player was Eric Campbell. While Campbell may have had his positive attributes, he was certainly not capable of playing everyday. And yet, when Lucas Duda and David Wright went down that was the position Campbell found himself. In 2017, there is no reason to believe that Duda or Wright could last a full season. Same goes for Neil Walker, who just had season ending back surgery, and Asdrubal Cabrera, who played with a knee injury for the entirety of the 2016 season. The long story short here is the Mets need a deep bench for the 2017 season to prevent a player of Campbell’s caliber being a starter for two or more weeks.
For the past two seasons, the Mets have made trades to obtain Kelly Johnson to serve as a bench player. He has proven himself to be a useful player who has hit .260/.319/.441 over two brief stints with the Mets. Last year, he was clutch as a pinch hitter hitting four pinch hit home runs. He is versatile in his ability to play second, third, and both corner outfield positions. In 2015, we saw him play shortstop in a game. If given Spring Training to work on it, he could add first base to his repertoire. The main issue facing Johnson is he remains unsigned, and at this point, it is questionable whether the Mets have interest in him with the team already espousing that they need to cut payroll entering the 2017 season.
The next in line would likely be Terry Collins‘ favorite Ty Kelly. Like Johnson, Kelly is versatile in his ability to play across the infield and his ability to play the corner outfield positions. While he is a switch hitter, Kelly showed he was a better hitter against left-handed pitching in what was a very small sample size. Late in the season, Collins used Kelly as a pinch runner late in games. Overall, while Kelly does nothing outstanding, and is clearly best suited to being a bench player at the major league level, Collins has shown that he appreciates what Kelly can bring to the table.
In addition to Kelly, T.J. Rivera was the other standout 27 year old Mets rookie during the 2016 season. Late in the season with the injuries to Walker and Flores, Rivera grabbed a hold of the second base job and hit .333/.346/.476 in 33 games. Unlike Johnson and Kelly, Rivera has played a fair amount of games at shortstop. With that said, there is a reason why the Mets began transitioning him away from short beginning in AA. With that said, RIvera can legitimately play all four infield positions. When he was passed over for promotion to the majors, he began working in LF in AAA meaning it is possible he can play the outfield if necessary. The main sticking point with Rivera is the fact that he is an aggressive hitter that rarely draws a walk.
Last, but certainly not least, is Matt Reynolds. Unlike the aforementioned players, Reynolds is a legitimate shortstop who quite possibly has the best range out of all the major league options the Mets have at the position. For one glorious day game, Reynolds showed he can play left field, and he can get that clutch hit to help the Mets win the game. On the downside, Reynolds is the worst hitter of the bunch. In his 47 games with the Mets last year, he only hit .255/.266/.416. In the hitter’s haven that in the Pacific Coast League, he was only a .264/.336/.357 hitter last year. Ultimately, Reynolds is the guy you want out there defensively, but he is not the guy you want at the plate.
Unless the Mets sign Johnson, it looks like the fight will be between Kelly, Rivera, and Reynolds for the last spot on the bench. IN those three players, the Mets have three intriguing if not flawed players. Ultimately, that is your best bet when looking to round out your major league bench. The good news for the Mets is if one should falter, there are two more behind them that can pick up the slack. If the Mets face a number of injuries like they did in 2015 and 2016, the Mets have a couple of options that have proven they can be useful major league players. With that, it seems the Mets bench should not be a problem for the first time in a good number of years . . . at least that’s the hope.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online