Reese Kaplan - A Baker's Dozen Questions for the Mets


1.   Apologies to Abbott and Costello, but who’s on first?  Right now there are two lefties – Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.  There’s righty Josh Satin.  There are others who in a pinch could play first such as Andrew Brown or Wilmer Flores.  No one seems to like any of the above yet until a trade is made the situation from 2011 has not changed.

2.   Who will play shortstop?  There is renewed interest in having Ruben Tejada try to redeem his forgettable 2013 campaign but it could just be posturing by the front office to make the team seem less desperate to acquire another shortstop for the 2014 season.  There are no in-house options any better than Tejada since Wilfredo Tovar hasn’t sniffed AAA yet and never was known for his bat.  Wilmer Flores started out his career at short but was deemed incapable of doing so at the major league level.

3.   Who is the leadoff hitter?  Ever since the two free agent acquisitions occurred everyone merely assumed the outfield would be Chris Young and Curtis Granderson in the corners with cannon-armed defensive whiz Juan Lagares playing center.  Now we keep hearing about Eric Young having a role as a leadoff hitter.  Yes, he did lead the league in stolen bases but his on bato set a table.  Playing him means benching one of the above players.  In an ideal world they would acquire a shortstop capable of leading off and stealing bases (such as the Dodgers’ Dee Gordon). 

4.   Who is the 5th starter?  With Bartolo Colon bringing his late bloomer resume to Queens four of the five starting rotation questions have been answered.  The 5th starter could come in-house from a group including Jenrry Mejia, Jacob deGrom, Rafael Montero or Carlos Torres.  A veteran willing to take a minor league deal (such as Dice-K) may be brought in to compete for that slot, too.

5.   Who’s in the bullpen?  Some are easy choices such as Bobby Parnell (if healthy), Vic Black, Gonzalez Germen, Scott Rice and Josh Edgin.  Then it gets a little harder as Jeurys Familia hasn’t seemed to have mastered his control yet, John Church and Jack Leathersich aren’t on the 40-man roster, Jeff Walters despite his age has not yet made it to AAA and Carlos Torres may be needed in the rotation.  There’s been some press about Cory Mazzoni being converted to reliever but you’d figure he needs some time in the minors to work on that transition. 

6.   How much leash do some of the comeback kids get?  Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada have a lot to prove.  Consequently if they start off slowly, how long will they get before they move onto Plan B?  Chris Young is in that group, too, but by virtue of shelling out over $7 million for his services he will get much more leniency.

7.   Are some of the young players ready to progress past the flaws in their game?  Can Zack Wheeler step up to the next level?  Can Juan Lagares approach the type of offense he’d been showing in winter ball?

8.   Is a healthy Travis d’Arnaud the real deal?  Can he avoid the injury bug and deliver the type of defense and offense that made him arguably the top catcher prospect in the entire country?

9.   Who’s the backup catcher?  Anthony Recker provided occasional pop when he played but flirted with the Mendoza line for the entire season.  Juan Centeño had a cup of coffee late in the season and looked competent, but he’s likely going to play every day in Las Vegas.

10.                When do Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard make it to The Show?  Everyone is well aware that the Mets have fully embraced the Super Two boondoggle that only allows B-level prospects to begin the season with the big club while the potential stars bide their time getting screwed out of service time because the money saved in arbitration is deemed more important than winning games early in the year.

11.                What is Wilmer Flores’ role on this team?  They don’t think he can field well enough to play 2B or SS.  He’s blocked at 3B by the $138 million man.  There is a logjam at 1B and he’s had very little time there to show whether or not he can handle the position.  He doesn’t have the footspeed to play the outfield.  Most feel he’ll start the year in AAA learning to play 1B or be dealt away to a club with a need at 3B. 

12.                Will Terry Collins be able to lead the team to .500?  Execution of batting and pitching is not his role, but he is the one who fills out the lineup card every day.  He made a great many ponderous decisions, showing too much loyalty to people who didn’t deserve it and had a quick hook for younger players unless injuries to vets forced him to use them.  His bullpen, umm, management is a whole other level of bizarre, yet after consecutive losing seasons they rewarded him with a contract extension.  Now he has a few real players, so it will be interesting to see if the team’s confidence in their hand-picked “yes man” was well founded or not.

13.                Who gets flipped first to another team in July?  It may be big Bartolo Colon who is the odd man out as his moderate contract would not be hard for another team to swallow and that time frame would coincide with the Super Two deadline passing which could bring Montero and Syndergaard back east.  Daniel Murphy is another possibility as they have both Flores and (ugh!) Young as backups to that position.  Chris Young being on a one-year deal is yet another one who might not want to sign a long-term lease.


Mack Ade said...

My guess:

1. Duda/Satin
2. Tejada
3. EYJ
4. Mejia
5. Germen, Familia, Edgin, Black, Rice, Parnell (when healthy) plus outsiders not signed yet
6. all leases get pulled in at the all-star break
7. Wheeler will excel, Lagares will not
8. d'Arnaud will go down with another season ending injury
9. Recker until the d'Arnaud injury
10. Montero will go into pen if Mejia does well ... Thor in July
11. 2B in AAA
12. at best 81-81
13. Colon

Anonymous said...

Crazy, out of left field thought.....why not see if EYJ can play SS??

Herb G said...

All valid questions, none of which can be answered definitively now. Mack the Valiant took a good stab, so I'll try too:

1. Duda/Satin (agree with Mack, tho I'm still hoping against hope that Davis makes his last stand.)

2. In my heart, any one of Miller, Owings, Franklin, Gregorius, Lowrie, Dee Gordon, Aybar, Escobar, etc. in thaat order, but in my head, it is Tejada.

3. EYJ unless they acquire a better bet.

4. Mejia, with Matsuzaka in Vegas as backup. Thor and Montero do not come up until July, when a starter is traded.

5. Parnell, (if ready) Black, Torres, Edgin, Rice, Germen, new guy. (I'm betting on Boggs) If Parnell is not ready, I'm guessing Walters wins the lottery.

6. If Duda is not hitting by late June, and Dykstra is healed, look for a callup. If Tejada is actually the opening day SS, he may get more of a leash. If Mets are still in contention in July, they could trade for a SS, if they're not, Tovar becomes the Quintanilla of 2014. With Young, it depends on whether he is borderline or absolutely terrible. Terrible gets benched in June for Lagares.

7. Wheeler is for real, whether he shows it this year or develops more slowly. Harvey's 2013 may have resulted in unrealistic expectations for Wheeler. Lagares, I think, will develop into a decent hitter more gradually, but maybe not on this team.

8. A healthy Td'A is the man, but the question is whether he can stay healthy. I'm guessing he will this year, but Plawecki is going to give him a run for his money when the time comes.

9. Recker, because he has the pop. Centeno is insurance. If d'Arnaud goes down, however, he could become the regular C.

10. Depends on performance of current #5 starter and whether Mets are still in it come July. If a starter falters, Montero comes up in June. (I don't think we'll see Montero in the pen under any circumstances.) Thor comes up in July. If the Mets are out of contention, a starter gets traded, otherwise he replaces #5 or whoever stinks it up.

11. I'd like to see Flores win the 2B job if Murphy is traded, but I fear he really doesn't have a role on this team. He is excellent trade bait.

12. Terry will have very little to do with this team playing better than .500 ball. If the rotation comes through, (and we do have a pretty solid rotation) the bull pen holds up, and a few players play up to their capabilities once again, we will crack .500. It's up to the players. I think Terry gets as much out of the players as they are able to give.

13. I'm guessing Gee gets flipped. They wait with Colon until the off season, and get a stellar return. If Lagares is raking in AAA, Chris Young could be a goner.

Mack Ade said...

Anonymous -

You can't experiment at the major league level.

Now, if you want to, have someone play SS in winter ball and then assign him for a year at the AAA level, but not in Queens

Reese Kaplan said...

I suppose I should offer up my own opinions rather than simply posing the questions...

1. I want to see Wilmer Flores play there every day

2. I'm OK with Tejada on a short leash but look to get a shortstop back at the ASB

3. I'd actually rather see Tejada leading off and Eric Young glued to the bench until a pinch runner is needed. He has a higher OBP and USED TO work very effective deep counts in his ABs

4. I'm rooting for Jenrry Mejia, but would then go with a Dice-K type since you will have multiple options for SP5 in July

5. I'm with Mack -- someone from the outside will round out the pen -- a former closer type

6. With Alderson's contract not guaranteed for next year, I'm thinking VERY LITTLE leash at all as he'll need to show progress towards at .500 record

7. If Wheeler is healthy and can control his walks...if TdA can stay healthy and if Juan Lagares remembers whatever was working in winter ball...

8. Play him. He gets a lot of leash since Plans B and C are a huge drop-off

9. Recker was signed because they knew he had some pop, but what surprised me was that his catcher's ERA was far better than veteran Buck's. He's the guy but expect Buck-like offensive production (latter season Buck, that is)

10. If Mejia is hurt I believe Montero will get some serious consideration but Thor better like desert living until July (or longer)

11. His role under Terry Collins is trade bait

12. No

13. Chris Young is the man most likely to swap uniforms mid-season. With only a one-year deal, there's no emotional tie nor financial commitment to make him a necessary part of the future

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