Mar 27

Mets’ Issues With A Week To Go

The Mets begin defense of their National League title a week from today, but will do so a team not without its issues.

Let’s go position-by-position to see how they stack up:

STARTING PITCHING: One issue was Jacob deGrom’s dip in velocity, but he was back in the mid-90s in Saturday’s start. Steven Matz gave up one run Sunday, but also walked four and later said he was gassed. He only gets one more start and doesn’t look sharp. There are no questions with Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard, and Bartolo Colon has not pitched well.

MATZ: Not ready. (AP)

MATZ: Not ready. (AP)

BULLPEN: Jim Henderson, Erik Goeddel, Sean Gilmartin and Logan Verrett are competing for the last bullpen spot. With three days off in the first week, the Mets shouldn’t have a problem not having Hansel Robles for the first two games as he serves a suspension.

CATCHER: Travis d’Arnaud is penciled in as the starter, but took a .200 batting average and .275 on-base percentage into Sunday’s game against the Nationals. The original plan was for Kevin Plawecki to be the back-up, and as of today they are leaning in that direction. However, with a heavy dose of days off in April – meaning he wouldn’t play much – and the prospect of saving a few bucks because of his Super 2 status, why not go with Johnny Monell and give Plawecki at-bats.

FIRST BASE: Lucas Duda hit 27 homers with 73 RBI last season and 30-92 in 2014. However, he had nearly a 2-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks-ratio in both seasons. He’s extremely streaky, capable of ten homers in one month and two in another. Five drives a month would be add consistency to his make-up. Wilmer Flores is the projected back-up.

SECOND BASE: Neil Walker is not having a good spring, but his track record shows he’s not a .171 hitter. There’s no indication his lack of production is because of any injury. It’s just a slow start.

SHORTSTOP: Asdrubal Cabrera has missed much of the spring with a strained left knee. There’s a chance he’ll be ready by Opening Day, but there’s no sense in pushing things. If not Cabrera, then Flores could get the start.

THIRD BASE: David Wright’s back seems fine, but he’s been bothered by tightness in his legs. He won’t get the at-bats he prefers but will have to make the best of it. I still think the best decision would be for him to be the DH in the first two games at Kansas City.

LEFT FIELD: Michael Conforto didn’t play Saturday because of a back issue, but was in the lineup Sunday. The Mets ideally want to play Conforto against lefties, but hasn’t had a good spring, which might temper those plans. In that case, we could see more of Juan Lagares (.316 this spring).

CENTERFIELD: The Mets’ best left fielder is center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, whose .394 average and .429 on-base percentage, not to mention the pig roast he hosted, would combine to push his brain cramp to the back burner. The Mets figure to bat him third behind Wright.

RIGHT FIELD: Curtis Granderson is hitting .324. A walking machine last year, he has drawn only one this spring.

Mar 19

Is Cespedes In Center The Best Thing?

Mets manager Terry Collins is reportedly reluctant to play Yoenis Cespedes anywhere in the outfield other than centerfield, to which I ask: Why? Frankly, after watching Cespedes in last year’s World Series, I wonder if he’s not overmatched playing centerfield.

GRANDERSON: Maybe better off in center. (Getty)

GRANDERSON: Maybe better off in center. (Getty)

From left to right, the current Mets’ outfield plan is Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Curtis Granderson, with 2014 Gold Glove Award winner Juan Lagares coming off the bench. Assuming he’s healthy, Lagares is the Mets’ best defensive outfielder, but the other three are superior at the plate.

On days when Lagares does play, it should be in center for the simple reason that with the Mets’ premium on pitching they should field their best defensive alignment whenever possible. Given that, I wonder why Granderson isn’t being considered in center with Cespedes in right (the best outfield arm is usually in right and that’s Cespedes).

I’m wondering if the Mets, in pursuing Cespedes in the outfield, didn’t promise him center field. Granderson can play center field, and probably just as well as Cespedes.

If the idea is to give yourself the best chance to win and given that, I’m not convinced Cespedes in center is the right decision.

 

 

 

 

Mar 09

Mets Lineup Against Yankees

David Wright out again for Mets. They say he probably won’t play more than a dozen exhibition games this spring, which is fine by me. Just so that he’s healthy. Here’s the Mets’ batting order for today’s game against the Yankees.

Curtis Granderson, RF:  He proved he can hit leadoff, but every time I see his name at the top of the order reminds me of the Mets’ inability to produce a No. 1 hitter in the traditional sense.

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS: Trying to find the right spot for him. He’ll probably hit in three or for other spots in the order.

Yoenis Cespedes, CF: He’s loose now. Let’s see where he is after an 0-for-17 stretch in July.

Lucas Duda, 1B: If he hits 30 homers this year, I’d rather it be five a month rather than two in one month and 12 in another.

Neil Walker, 2B: As with Cabrera, he’ll be moved around a bit until they find a spot for him.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: I’m hoping he can hit at least 20 homers. And, improve his throwing.

Alejandro De Aza, LF: There’s been talk of a trade. They’ll move him if they can.

Kevin Plawecki, DH: It has been mentioned he might open the season in the minors, which might not be a bad thing because he’ll get consistent at-bats.

T.J. Rivera, 3B: Today’s Mets’ third baseman du jour.

Jacob deGrom, RP: I’m betting on at least 17 wins.

 

 

 

Feb 09

Mets Should Move Conforto Around

I read something the other day about the Mets giving Michael Conforto some time in right field and immediately thought, well, why not? I would also consider giving him some reps in center field. And, while they’re at it, why not try him at the top of the order?

CONFORTO: Could see some time in right. (AP)

CONFORTO: Could see some time in right. (AP)

I don’t like typecasting a young player to one position and one slot in the batting order. My thinking is the more versatile a player is the more his value is enhanced.

Conforto in right makes a lot of sense because Curtis Granderson will be gone after the 2017 season. Who knows, maybe Yoenis Cespedes might be gone, too. Assuming Granderson is gone – and days Terry Collins might want to rest him this year – then Conforto could play right, Cespedes could move to left and that way they can give Juan Lagares some time in center.

As for hitting him at the top of the order, although Granderson did well last year, there are times when his power potential could be better suited in the middle of the order. And, Conforto showed signs of being a good hitter. I envision him as a line drive spray hitter with the potential of having a high on-base percentage.

And, assuming Granderson is gone in two years, they’ll need a leadoff hitter again. So, what’s the harm in giving him a look-see there now?

 

 

 

Feb 06

De Aza On Block … Or Is He?

Well, that was quick. With Yoenis Cespedes now in the fold, Alejandro De Aza is suddenly now available. Or, at least that is what is being reported because of the crowded situation in the Mets’ outfield with Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and De Aza.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said a trade is possible, but not imminent.

Since De Aza, who’ll make $5.75 million this season, isn’t expected to get much playing time, why not deal him? Because trading De Aza is the logical assumption, other teams would think the same thing so his value would appear to be limited.

So, unless De Aza is part of a larger package, I wouldn’t think teams are lining up for him. So, the thought here is De Aza isn’t going anywhere soon.