The Mets just released their batting order for today’s game and it has Wilmer Flores playing first base and Jay Bruce in right field.
Although they have not been mathematically eliminated, we all know their season has been over for months. Right now, the Mets are operating in limbo with their three-headed general manager, which puts Mickey Callaway’s job for 2019 on shaky ground.
There has been no mention in the media as of yet whether the Mets have begun their general manager’s search other than compiling names. If any of the candidates are their assistant general managers, the Mets don’t have to wait until the season is over. If Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon’s choice is John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi or Omar Minaya, he can make the announcement now.
I’m concerned the Mets are dragging their feet to where they will miss out on their first choice. That being said, the Mets can still plan for 2019, and that begins with telling Callaway whom he should be playing and why.
If the Mets are sold on Flores as their first baseman of the future, then so be it, but we know that’s not true. We also know they have soured on Dominic Smith, who we also know can’t play the outfield.
Here’s what the Mets should do:
1) From now until the end of the season, first base has to be Bruce’s position. As it is configured now, the outfield doesn’t have a place for Bruce with Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo playing the corners and Austin Jackson and Juan Lagares in center.
The Mets have talked about playing Bruce at first base, so if they don’t trade him – again – before the August 31 deadline, they should make the move permanent, because next season I want Conforto and Nimmo playing the corners. Including today’s game against the Nationals, the Mets have 34 games remaining, which is roughly a full spring training’s worth, to find out what can Bruce do at first base.
Should the Mets deal Bruce, then Smith should get the majority of the reps at first base. There is no reason why Flores should play first over Bruce and Smith.
Assuming Flores comes back next season it should be coming off the bench and play a rotation of a game at third, one at second and one at first. That accomplishes two things: 1) it gives Flores enough playing time to keep him sharp in the field and at the plate, and 2) it enables next year’s manager to rest Todd Frazier, Amed Rosario and Bruce once a week.
2) Jeff McNeil should get the reps at second base. This would also be an appropriate time to see if he can fill in at third and shortstop in a pinch.
The Mets should go into the offseason with second base a minor concern. It should be McNeil’s job to lose going into the offsason.. He had two morre hits today.
3) If the Mets are serious about a six-man rotation, which I doubt they are, then go for it. There are enough games remaining to go through a six-man rotation five times. That would be Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Jason Vargas and Seth Lugo.
Giving deGrom a chance to win a Cy Young Award is fine, but let’s face it, the most games he could possibly win are 13, which shouldn’t be enough to catch Max Scherzer, who is 16-6, and Aaron Nola, who is at 15-3.
It has been a lost season for Vargas, but he’s come off the disabled list and has pitched three strong games in a row.
I would like to see Lugo get some starts as to enhance his trade value. If anything, I would consider shutting down Matz for the final month. He’s been horrid lately and has a sore arm. Running Matz out there five more times can only hurt him. If he shows no progress in his next start tomorrow, then out he goes.
4) Figure Robert Gsellman as next year’s closer. With Jeurys Familia gone and AJ Ramos on the disabled list, this could give them a heads-up on their winter shopping.
If the Mets do these things, it won’t solve all their problems, but could settle one or two issues, or at least give their incoming general manager something to work with.