Tom Brennan – WHICH WANNABES WILL STICK AROUND FOR OPENING DAY?
How you, as a player, do in spring training has little to do with whether you make the Mets opening day squad – if, for instance, your name is Muno. Sorry to say.
Some guys need not worry. For instance, Curtis Granderson in ST 2014 hit a desultory .157, and yet his place on the Mets was secured by both his past major league credentials but also because of the 60 million bushels of cabbage that the Mets still owed him at that time.
David Wright could struggle all spring, like last year when he hit .200 in the spring, but if he is not on the DL, Captain America, #5, and owed $100 million buckeroos, will be patrolling 3rd base on opening day. If he’s hitting lousy, there will be a flurry of worrisome articles written about what is wrong with Wright, how will it possibly impact their season, etc. But he'll be at 3B - you can put it in the books and seal it with a Rose-etta stone.
Some Mets guys on the fringe, on the other hand, have been getting on base this spring at a dizzying pace. In a few cases, continued high production could perhaps get one or two of them on the team at the expense of 1 or 2 other wannabes. Even if they fail to make the opening day roster, they'll hope they have left a lasting impression on management and will enhance their chances of being called into the skipper's office one day to be told they're headed to Queens, like happened to Eric Campbell last May 10. Eric Campbell got there, played well by and large, and sure hopes it keeps him here in 2015.
Anyway, you get the point. We have, by my count, 9 sure things on offense in terms of opening day - Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores, David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Cuddyer, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares and Mr. Mayberry. So that leaves 4 spots if we carry 12 pitchers – a back up catcher, a back up infielder, and 2 back up outfielders. Which wannabes are kicking butt so far and have their hats in the ring for those 4 spots? Here goes:
Kirk Nieuwenhuis – a guy I have often criticized for striking out too much, but who put together a decent back up OF season for part of 2014, Kirk is out of the gate like a house on fire – 10 for 21, 3 walks, 3 Ks. Out of options, he is sitting pretty in the early running for a back up OF slot.
Matt Reynolds – Matt is making it very hard to be ignored, with 8 for 17 hitting, and 3 Ks. One of his outs Wednesday was a line out to right. Ruben has to be starting to sweat.
Ruben Tejada – after a miserable 1 for 13 start, Ruben went 2 for 3 (2 doubles) and a walk Wednesday to reduce the sweating over Reynolds.
Danny Muno – he has done no wrong, going 6 for 9 with a walk. But he seems slated for AAA due to a crowd ahead of him.
Matt den Dekker – a so-so start for Matt, who has lost some ground vs. Kirk. Matt is 4 for 16, 4 walks, but his old nemesis (the K) has reappeared, with 7 so far.
Anthony Recker – 1 for 11, 4 K’s…the incumbent back up is not making a case that the 2015 back up should be him and not…
Johnny Monell - Monell has a 3 run shot to his credit, and has gone 5 for 14, with a walk and just 2 Ks. The lefty hitting catcher has to be getting realy consideration of supplanting the hitting-challenged Recker.
Cesar Puello – also out of options, he has had a good start – 5 for 16 (all singles), a walk and 5 Ks. May not be enough, but if he keeps up that sort of pace, maybe…
Eric Campbell – got over 200 PA’s in 2014, but has a ton of competition this spring – so far, so good, with 4 for 13, HR, 5 RBIs, 4 walks, just 1 K. He is the incumbent, and if he keeps that up, he’ll be hard to unseat.
If I had to pick today, I’d go with Monell as back up catcher, Reynolds as back up SS, Campbell and Kirk as the back up OFs. But there is a lot of spring left. The whole picture could change.
As a final note, Plawecki and Herrera are 2 guys who have great major league potential, but due to the players who are starting here ahead of them (d’Arnaud, Murphy), they are almost 100% certain to be in AAA to start the year, so I’ve left them out of this analysis, but both have started slowly this spring.