One month from today, Mets position players will report to spring training. They’ll take ground balls and batting practice for a couple of weeks. There will be daily reports on what pitchers are throwing and with the Mets there will be the daily, “how’s the arm feeling?’’ questions.
The Mets have numerous questions they must have answered in spring training:
BRUCE: Desperately want to trade him. (AP)
ROTATION: With four pitchers coming off surgery, they’ll undoubtedly ease them into form. Probably one of the first five questions asked will be on innings limits.
Hopefully, manager Terry Collins will have a definable plan as to not duplicate what happened with Matt Harvey in 2015. More to the point, hopefully, he won’t deviate as he did with Harvey.
Coming off surgery, it’s not a bad idea to have limits on Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler. At one time the Mets didn’t discount the idea of using Wheeler out of the pen. If that’s the conclusion, then stick with it. They can always announce an innings format and if there aren’t any setbacks, discard it have May or June. But don’t announce something then deviate on a whim.
Collins will also need to define roles for Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman.
BULLPEN: They have to be expecting at least a 30-day suspension for Jeurys Familia, so they’ll need to define the bullpen roles with the assumption Addison Reed will be the closer to start.
This is an area where I can see the Mets signing relievers off the scrap heap at the end.
FIRST BASE: Lucas Duda had back issues last year so they’ll need to find a replacement. Wilmer Flores seems the logical choice, so Collins needs to give him innings.
Will Dominic Smith get enough at-bats this spring to leave the impression he could get the call-up chance should something happen to Duda?
As for Michael Conforto, if they are going to do it, then do it right. If so, it is important for Conforto to get substantial innings at first base, meaning that’s more important than playing in the World Baseball Classic.
SECOND BASE: They’ll need to keep a close eye on Neil Walker, who is coming off back surgery. Walker can’t be pushed, so Collins has to give out playing time to Flores and Ty Kelly.
It will be interesting to see how much time Jose Reyes will get at second. If he’s going to be the super sub, then he should get time at second.
SHORTSTOP: Amed Rosario is the future, but is he ready now? The Mets have Asdrubal Cabrera for this year (they have an option for 2018), but their thinking is Rosario should be ready for 2018.
Rosario needs to play, so if the Mets don’t have a way to get him in the lineup regularly, he’ll open the season at Triple-A.
THIRD BASE: The hope is David Wright will be ready for Opening Day, but nobody really knows. Reyes is Plan B.
Wright hasn’t played 100 games in the last two years combined, so there should be no bold projections for 2017.
Things change over the course of a season, but Collins needs to format a strict play-rest plan for Wright.
OUTFIELD: This is GM Sandy Alderson’s biggest mess. He basically announced to the world the Mets’ plan was to pick up Jay Bruce’s option as a hedge to not getting Yoenis Cespedes back. Of course, that automatically reduced Bruce’s trade value.
Sure, the Mets will keep making calls to dump Bruce, but at the same time they need to get him ready for the season. They also need to get Curtis Granderson ready to play center and right field.
There’s also the matter of getting Juan Lagares and Conforto ready. That leads to an interesting question: If the Mets are unable to trade Bruce and he’s on the Opening Day roster, then would they possibly start the season with Conforto in the minor leagues?