Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:00 AM
So I decided to go with this picture above for a few reasons: I love this picture of the Marlins Stanton in a Mets hat; I was at this game at Marlins Park, sitting in the section as a part of the 7line Army that was holding up this awesome cardboard pic; and it represents not only a little Mets fans humor, but also the underlying frustration that fans have about the state of the teams offense.
Anyway, the optimist in me would like to once again shed a little positive light on the often suspected black hole that is the Mets scoring ability. I've kinda done this before, but heck its still not time for pitchers and catcher to officially report yet, so why not recycle a little information , projections, opinions and downright 'I'm a homer' nice thoughts about each suspected starting position player can contribute this upcoming season. Why not simply go position by position (although if I went in a batting order, that might create a few extra comments of those with alternative orders). So, here we go
First baseman Lucas Duda:
Last time I checked, Duda Smash just hit 30 homers last year. However, all you ever hear around (internet) town is about how to most likely expect a decline of some sort this coming season. My question is Why?
Yes, he's coming off a season in which he pretty much had career highs in every single important offensive category that is, but he also just turned 29, not 39, so why can't we also see this as a guy, when finally given the opportunity, have his confidence and also hit his peek/prime of his career at his age? Maybe its simply because we are talking about the Mets here, and this team literally just had a guy, at the SAME position, post a 30+ homer season, at a younger age, and then completely fall of the offensive map. But why simply compare the two? Duda, although maybe not by huge margins, has better career numbers in BA, OBP and SLG then Ike. And Duds never received the opportunity to get more then 459 total at bats up until 2014 to show what he's got. Plus, the still Young Duda had to put in most of those prior at bats stuck in the outfield, where he was not comfortable, and because of the teams lack of consistent hitting and support behind him, Duda seemed to feel the pressure of having to be the cleanup hitter before he was seemingly ready, and it led to possibly more K's (in my 2 cent opinion) then he should have.
Instead, Duda will now start the 2015 season as the starting 1B, without question, and he will look to have pressure taken off of him by the organization in the players chosen and signed to hit behind him to produce better then in 2014.
Second Baseman Daniel Murphy:
Old reliable (still only 29yrs old) could and should be counted on to be consistent. He may not have become a batting champion (something I recall Keith Hernández saying a couple time during SNY broadcasts) but he remains a career .290 hitter, who hits doubles, steals bases (yeah, probably shouldn't mention the base running with him) and can often go on random tears where he hits about .400 for a week at times. We can talk all day about the 'potential' of Dilson Herrera, but I don't want Herrera at this point in his career starting for a Mets team that may seriously be contending for a playoff spot this year.
Shortstop Wilmer Flores
Oh Shortstop. Oh Wilmer. What to do, what to say? We can have all day talking about his defensive skills, but the point is supposed to be that the Mets have a poor offense. Well, this young man is always said to have the potential to be pretty good on the offensive end. I'm too lazy to further research and study all the new fancy stats, WAR and other mumbojumbo. All I know is that he has power, gap power, homerun power, contact ability and already has history of coming up with hits with runners on base. Maybe he's not the next Derek Jeter, but why can't he put up at least top 7/8 numbers offensively in the National League at his position?
Third Baseman David Wright
Oh captain my Captain. Lets face it. Last year he purposely played hurt. He wanted to help the team. He didn't (in his mind) want to let anybody down. So it is what it is. He had a terrible year, and he is only getting older. But so what. He's a career .300 hitter, who can still hit some homers, steal some bases, and drive in runs, especially if he actually is healthy and stays on the field for 145+ games in 2015. He says he feels good. I'll take his word for it. He will be fine this upcoming season.
Left Fielder Curtis Granderson
Again, like many, we can talk all day about the Mets and their decision to sign Grandyman to a pretty huge yearly contract. However, he is still the guy who hit back to back 40 homer seasons (small porch or not) in a New York market/town, and all the pressure that comes with that. And, despite the absolutely horrible, ridiculous and most likely not to repeat performance, he got through April hell and still managed an OBP over .325, while also hitting 20 homers, which this year will begin the whole shorter right field fence thing at Citi Field. Why can't he hit .240, .340OBP and 25 homers ?
Centerfielder Juan Lagares
Mr. overachiever himself. The guy that apparently the Mets organization themselves seemingly did not want to start as a regular, surprised everyone and hit for average, while also showing some power, and later showing off the kind of speed that could easily translate into a nice leadoff hitter (yeah I know, dude needs to learn how to walk more). Why would he regress when nobody expected him to do what he is doing now anyway? I would not be shocked if he hit .280, with 10 homers, 20+ steals and a decent amount of doubles (oh, and wins himself another gold glove).
Right fielder Michael Cuddyer
Well, here we go again with another signing of an outfielder with some damaged goods based on his previous season (yeah, don't hit .136 in April please). Yup, he's old. Yup, he' had inflated numbers at Coors Field. But he proved himself in the past, as a Minnesota Twin, as a .280 BA guy who can manage double digit homers, hit some doubles, and keep his OBP over .330. So why can't he at least one or two more good years in him (unless Nimmo forces his way onto this team). Same as Granderson, Cuddyer seems to have a rep as a good guy, good veteran, and probably would not fold under pressure on a team that again, would like to break .500 and at least sniff playoff contention.
Catcher Travis d'Arnoud.
Mr. Glass found himself playing regularly towards the end of last season, and started to look really darn good. Even some other catchers around the league were giving him a little love, and showing that understanding of what its like to come into the league, and have to worry about an entire pitching staff, more then just doing something with a bat. Perhaps TDA has figured things out. Maybe all us minor league junkies can have a little fun proclaiming that Kevin Plawecki should at least be the backup in 2015, if not immediately make TDA expendable once he is placed onto the 40 man/25 man roster protection, but maybe TDA comes out in 2015 and hits 20+ homers. He was the perennial top MLB catching prospect for a reason. Many prospects never shine, but TDA just did towards end of last season, so I'm confident here.
Well anyway, that's my thoughts today. Let me know if I'm crazy, too optimistic, naïve, whatever. As long as we discussing Mets baseball I'm happy.