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.


Richard Jones said...

Five bench players
2.Campbell is valuable because he can play anywhere especially if his catching is good enough. If you take Monell over Recker you would be able to pinch hit Monell in an important at bat against a righty late in a game.
3. I would go Reynolds. Maybe you would want him in AAA this gives you someone to bring up if there is an injury at either SS or 3rd. If you want the best player than Tejada has to go.
4. Nieuwenhuis
5. Monell if Campbell is good enough as a 3rd catcher. I little bigger role than an emergency catcher. If not Recker.

Mack Ade said...

At this point in the pre-season, I think the only everyday utility player that has made this team is Mayberry.

Richard Jones said...

Do you know anything about Campbell catching status? I heard about it early in spring training but I haven't heard anything lately. The last I heard it was going well but that was 2 or 3 weeks ago. Did they abandon it?

Mack Ade said...

I take that back and add one more name.

It's hard for me to believe, especially due to his ability to back up David Wright on third, that Campbell doesn't go north in April.

Reese Kaplan said...

Third catcher is a luxury no longer common on most teams. As long as you don't use the 2nd catcher as a pinch hitter, you are not taking that much of a risk.

I'd go with Monell just because Recker has not acquitted himself well during his past few years in the majors but that has not stopped the Mets from bringing him back. (See Tejada, Collins, etc.)

I'd take Puello over Campbell, give him a longer look...if he flops, go with Campbell. If he flourishes, then you might be able to flip one of them for something.

Reynolds over Tejada...I can't believe I'm saying this but between the 40-man roster issue and the fact Reynolds has not yet shown in a 2nd season he can hit, I'd be inclined to at least START the year with Tejada. Of course, I'd have preferred they cut him him and go with Tovar for as few ABs as he's likely to get anyway, but they made that dumb decision to pay the man so play him until Reynolds shows you he's for real and gets a little more time playing every day under his belt. In general I don't like to promote young players simply to sit them on the bench (despite that being TC's modus operandi).

Thomas Brennan said...

Richard, so right now, we agree. Campbell is likely to go north too, but there are a bunch of games left, so guys need to prove themselves - including Tejada, who I include in the wannabe group and not the definites.

He's got real competition from Reynolds right now. A lot has been written about Reynolds having a 2013 BABIP that is unsustainable - but if most of his hits were line drives, BABIP for line drives is very high - so Reynolds may be ready to be a productive major league hitter now, without further seasoning.

If so, Tejada is in real trouble, IMO.

Richard Jones said...

I understand the current status of the 3rd catcher. Teams don't want to give a roster spot for that purpose. I wouldn't want Campbell as a pure 3rd catcher. He does so much more so your not filling a roster spot with just a 3rd catcher.
I don't know if he is good enough to give him that role. My guess is he is not. He may just be the emergency catcher.
I know no one but Mayberry has a spot but I think Campbell is very close because of his super utility status. It's good to have competition.

Thomas Brennan said...

Good analysis, Richard. To your point, I think any righty fringe guy should learn to catch enough to be used in an emergency. Nice feather in the cap.

Think of a guy like Puello, to take it one step further. maybe a full time switch to catcher would be needed to avoid a dead-end career. Catchers with a gun of an arm who can also hit a bit are valuable.

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