The Mets spring training camp officially opened and it didn’t take long for Jay Horwitz to lineup some of the field platers for a gaggle interview with the beat press.
Both 2B Neil Walker and LF Michael Conforto were singled out for these interviews and it was obvious that Walker was still having difficulty adjusting to the fact that he no longer is playing baseball in the town he was born and grew up in (Pittsburgh).
Conforto said he just wanted to get back to where he left off last season, which would be a high point for us reading this.
Mack – Both Walker and Conforto are critical pieces to any success for the Mets in 2016.
I expect Walker to do fine, but I’m looking for a great year from Conforto. He has the potential of hitting 30+ home runs and knocking in 100+ runs.
If he did this… and Yoenes Cespedes and Lucas Duda produced the kind of numbers they are capable of producing… the Mets could have quite the power trio in the 3-4-5 slot.
Andrew Beaton is the new Mets reporter for The Wall Street Journal. He wrote Wednesday about Three Questions The Mets Must Answer as Spring Training Begins –
2. Can Flores be Mr. Utility? The 2016 infield looks like this: Lucas Duda at first, Walker at second, Cabrera at short and David Wright at third. So Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada, both of whom played in more than half of the Mets’ games last year, seem to be relegated to bench roles.
But Flores, who hit 16 home runs in 487 at-bats last year, has a valuable bat that makes him a strong candidate for somewhat regular playing time. In fact, he may be the primary backup at all four infield positions.
Flores may never win a Gold Glove, but he demonstrated last year that he can get by at both second base and shortstop. What will be important during the spring is whether he can play capably at third and first. Third is most pressing, because Wright figures to need regular days off to manage the spinal stenosis that cost him most of 2015. Given Flores’s lack of range, third base may actually be his ideal position.
First base will be important, too, because there’s no obvious backup behind Duda. If Flores proves viable there in Port St. Lucie, he could potentially spell Duda against left-handed pitchers or during one of Duda’s perennial cold streaks.
Mack – The super-utility role for Flores will begin Day 1 and I hope it works, especially at first base. It may be the saving grace for his career. I just don’t know at this point.
I will make a prediction here.
Something is going to happen that will get Flores back to a starting role. It probably will be an injury to one of the projected starters or it could be a huge slump, but I just don’t see Flores being knocked round all season like he’s on a bumper pool table (remember bumper pool?).
Sandy Alderson made it to camp and held his first press conference. Kristie Ackert wrote a recap article on what he had said –
“I haven’t been this upbeat about a team in a long time and I think that is exciting,” Alderson said. “It’s exciting for us, exciting for the players and I think the fans as well.”
After joking about his 90-win goal for 2014, for which he took much public ridicule and grief, Alderson said the goal this season is “to win enough games to win the division.”
Mack – Read the story. There’s nothing there with any real meat, but it is interesting, including subjects like innings limits and David Wright.
Michael Salfino questions Yoenes Cespedes centerfield defense –
Based on his career defensive statistics to date, zone rating expects Cespedes in center to cost the Mets about 17.5 runs over a full season. But Inside Edge projects a deficit about a fifth as much (3.75 runs). If Inside Edge is more representative of defensive reality, then Cespedes’s superior hitting for a center fielder more than makes up for his defensive flaws. Note that these numbers are strictly glove-based and don’t factor Cespedes’s superior throwing arm.
Mack – One must temper these statistics with the fact that Cespedes is going to win the Mets ‘X’ amount of games with his bat.
I love Juan Lagarus’ defense in center, but I see very little down side, if any playing Yo here.