Reese Kaplan -- A Dark Horse for the 25th Spot

When the Mets fans discuss who will be that elusive 25th man on the roster, the names that enter the conversation are familiar – Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Eric Campbell, Matt den Dekker and even Cesar Puello.  This year the Mets have two guys with an inside track – Nieuwenhuis and Puello – both of whom are out of options and would be exposed to all of the other teams in Major League baseball before they could be outrighted to the minors.  Eric Campbell was a great story last year, but like Josh Satin before him, his star seemed to dim with increased playing time and he finished the year with rather pedestrian numbers when extrapolated would have resulted in 9 HRs, 48 RBIs, a .263 AVG, 9 SBs with 165 Ks.  Latecomer den Dekker would have generated even less.  Both have options remaining and likely are ticketed for Las Vegas.

One under-the-radar signing the Mets made during this otherwise moribund off-season was the minor league deal and major league invitation given to former Dodgers and Padres farmhand Alex Castellanos.  The 6 foot, 200 pound right handed hitter has played all over the diamond, similar to Eric Campbell.  He’s considered primarily an outfielder by trade and has posted some nice power numbers in the minor leagues, including seasons with 26, 21, and 19 home runs in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. 

He had very small cups of coffee with the Dodgers twice, but still retained his rookie eligibility, though at age 28 it’s unlikely anyone has him on their radar for a starting gig.  For his minor league career he’s hit a solid .288 including seasons averaging around 20 SBs as well.  He strikes out in about 26% of his ABs, which is about average for a power hitter.

Last year he found himself here with my adopted hometown El Paso Chihuahuas where he logged his least impressive season to date.  As a part time player he produced just a .275/8/42 slash line but it was in 360 ABs, not over the course of a full season as the extrapolated numbers for Eric Campbell show. 

Right now I’m thinking he’s mostly organizational depth in the mold of Andrew Brown, a power hitting right hander who could provide a jolt from the bench.  He’s speedier than Brown by far, but with a tick less power.  With Brandon Nimmo and two of the aforementioned group likely ticketed to play the OF in AAA, it may be time to take a shot with a guy like Castellanos for late inning pinch hitting or base running.  He doesn’t have the baggage of Cesar Puello who seems to have worn out his welcome despite having served his time for a PED suspension.  They already have Brandon Allen and Cory Vaughn who are there for depth.  Throw in Eric Campbell and Matt den Dekker and it appears there may be no room at the inn for Castellanos.  A lot will hinge upon what they decide to do with the very speedy Puello. 

Figure Kirk Nieuwenhuis is a given (and left handed).  John Mayberry should be a semi-regular, playing against all lefties either in one of the outfield corners or at 1B.  That leaves room for another outfielder on the roster.  The fact that he can also play three infield positions as well makes him worthy of consideration, though the Mets tend to favor the familiar which might make “Soup” more likely to come north. 


Hobie said...

I am guessing Kirk & Soup go north and they DFA (& lose) Puello. BTW is he still out of options to a waiver claimant? idk.

I would go exactly the other way (dD & Cesar on the 25) and probably lose Kirk. In any event, I don't see Castellanos added to the 40 until one of Kirk/Puello is claimed. I do see him has the first call if Cuddyer goes down or Mayberry completely flops. (Slaps crystal ball to remove static)

Anonymous said...

The Mets have too many players with similar skills. The Mets should not have signed Mayberry and given that shot at Puello instead. I rather lose Capt. Kirk and keep MDD in the ML.

Anonymous said...

Solve the logjam by releasing Cory Vaughn. Play Castellanos, Campbell and Den Dekker at AAA, keep Puello and Niewenhuis as bench players in the show. Niewenhuis is a lefty with power and can backup CF. Puello will be useful as a pinch runner/pinch hitter--and we don't want to lose him at age 23 (remember he's a former top 100 prospect).

Reese Kaplan said...

I'm in the camp that favors MdD over Nieuwenhuis but the team probably still deludes itself into thinking Nieuwenhuis is worthwhile. He strikes out way too much, doesn't have MdD's speed nor defensive chops. More importantly, on a team with a lot of high-K hitters, having one who learned how to adjust like MdD just makes sense. That, of course, means they won't do it. They typically make the roster decisions based upon familiarity and option status, not qualifications. If they cared as such, then they would have cut Ruben Tejada who brings essentially nothing to the table and taken a flyer on Everth Cabrera or some other speedy backup middle infielder.

Anonymous said...

James Preller says . . .

The guys who are redundant, IMO, are Lagares and den Dekker, unless you want to create a CF platoon. I think SA wants more power overall from the OF then starting both of them would provide.

I don't think a smart team loses Kirkkk for nothing. He's a valuable 4-5th outfielder who suffers from over-exposure. Maybe he can be flipped for a low-level prospect toward the end of Spring Training. Oh, who am I kidding. I think he's a Major Leaguer.

Soup sucks. I mean, sorry. I feel like this is the Mike Baxter conversation all over again. Fans decide to like a guy, and root for him, and somehow don't see that he's simply a dime-a-dozen player. But as a 25th man, sure, whatever; the flexibility gives him an edge over Puello, though I think Puello's ceiling is much higher.

It will be interesting to watch what happens with Puello. Another team is probably waiting for that particular crumb to fall off the table. Too soon to tell is the Mets mismanaged this or if they are right not to like him.

Again, and always, it comes down to the mystery of proper talent evaluation. Let's hope they get this right. It doesn't seem like great resource management to let Kirkkk walk just so MdM can sit on the bench. Why not keep them both and see how it plays out?

James Preller

Thomas Brennan said...

Interesting conundrum on these guys. Spring training should sort it out. Hopefully, Mets mgmt. has not decided already on these guys - let them show what they got.

Mack's Mets © 2012