Posted by Stephen Guilbert at 12:00 PM
Unless a shortstop position battle yields Matt Reynolds or Ruben Tejada an unlikely victor, the starting lineup for the New York Mets come April 6th will be:
C- Travis d'Arnaud
1B- Lucas Duda
2B- Daniel Murphy
SS- Wilmer Flores
3B- David Wright
LF- Curtis Granderson
CF- Juan Lagares
RF- Michael Cuddyer
SPs- Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon
However, injuries happen. Lucas Duda already has an ailment and the calendar has yet to flip to March. What happens to the Mets lineup if Duda goes down? What about catcher? Here are the contingency plans for each position:
C- Travis d'Arnaud's replacement for a short-term injury belongs to backup Anthony Recker, though anything extended changes the game. Kevin Plawecki, a top prospect for the Mets and a consensus top-100 prospect in all of baseball, deserves a chance to start if d'Arnaud misses significant time. Given TdA's injury history, keeping Plawecki around for at least this year is a smart move. If the Mets trade Plawecki and d'Arnaud suffers a bad injury, the catching depth in the system--as it is around baseball--is weak.
1B- If Duda misses extended time with an injury, the Mets would move Michael Cuddyer to first base. This opens up a hole in right field. While the Mets could slot Kirk Nieuwenhuis in semi-permanantly, pitchers already exploit his weaknesses at the plate as a part-time player and in a full-time role, his offense will hurt the team. A better option is Cesar Puello, if he is protected by the Mets on the 25-man roster. If Puello does not produce well or is lost via waivers, Matt den Dekker gets his opportunity. den Dekker does not have much of a bat but he would join Lagares and Granderson in a very athletic, quick and defensive-minded outfield.
2B- The Mets would approach a Daniel Murphy injury the same way they would address his trade-- with Dilson Herrera. A top prospect with a full toolbox, the Mets need not look outside the organization at second base for many years.
SS- Ruben Tejada slots in for the short term if Wilmer Flores suffers an injury. If Flores fails to handle shortstop adequately or has a long term ailment, the Mets likely look outside the organization for help. Matt Reynolds gets more playing time but the immediate replacement is Tejada.
3B- This happened last year. Murphy shifted to third base, Flores moved to second, Tejada slotted in at shortstop. The movement will be similar, though Herrera likely fills in at second and Flores stays at shortstop (assuming, at the time of the injury, that Flores' performance at shortstop is adequate).
LF- A Granderson injury handles similarly to a Duda injury. Cuddyer moves to left and one of Kirk/Puello/den Dekker slots in right. Most signs point to the Mets not awarding Cesar Puello a roster spot (which is a shame--he still has the tools to be a very good major leaguer), making den Dekker best option for right field in this contingency.
CF- Easy. Matt den Dekker.
RF- Puello or den Dekker using the same logic for 1B and LF.
SP- The Mets have so much starting pitching depth that if one of the above five starters gets placed on the 60-day DL, the question is not, "How can we replace him", it is, "How do we choose who to replace him with?" If Jon Niese goes down, Steven Matz offers the Mets something Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Shawn Bowman, and Tyler Pill cannot--he throws with his left hand. The organization might not want to promote Matz so soon and will certainly not do so before Super-2 cutoff, but a mid-season injury to Niese should open the door for Matz.
For a RHP injury early in the season, Dillon Gee or Rafael Montero get the call (depending on whether Gee gets traded or either (both?) move to the bullpen), keeping Noah Syndergaard under team control for a year longer and potentially avoiding Super Two status. Come late spring and on, Noah gets his time in Flushing.