Reese Kaplan -- Dunno About d'Arnaud

Travis d’Arnaud is rapidly devolving into Cliff Floyd, the talented but seemingly perpetually injured outfielder who played for the Mets for four years between 2003 and 2006, only once eclipsing 114 games played in a single season.  (Ironically Floyd was eventually replaced in LF on the roster with even more fragile Moises Alou, but that's another story for another day).  Though still three years younger than Floyd was upon his arrival to the Mets, the fact remains that Travis’ high water mark of games played is just 108. 

There are flashes to show you what he’s capable of doing.  Last year, for example, in his mere 67 games he slugged 12 HRs and drove in 41 in just 239 ABs.  Extrapolated over the course of a full season and he’d be challenging Buster Posey for the All Star berth. 

With him once again on the shelf for what appears to be a catching related injury due to throwing, the question arises about his future with the ballclub.  There are a few ways to go.  You could hope his recovery proceeds and he returns to his customary place behind the dish.  You could start grooming him for another position on the field that’s less strenuous (though a number of his injuries have been freakish in nature and not directly attributable for playing backstop).  Or you could simply move on and plan for the future without him. 

A participant in a Mets mailing list confided that the impingement in the shoulder caused a year-long recovery for him when the same injury hit (and he was not a professional ballplayer).  That’s pretty scary stuff.  There’s not been a whole lot written about the prospective recovery period for d’Arnaud nor what options exist – rest, surgery, etc – so it’s all a guessing game.

In the interim we once again have Kevin Plawecki receiving a much larger share of playing time than was originally forecasted when they penciled him in as the backup.  Even if his gap hitting comes around, he’s not going to provide the run production expected from d’Arnaud.  Plawecki’s best minor league season saw him deliver 11 HRs and 64 RBIs while hitting .309 between Binghamton and Las Vegas.  As a career .290 hitter in the minors he’s likely better than he’s shown thus far.  The hope is that with the off-season surgery his breathing problems are behind him and he can now produce at the big league level, too.

However, if he does not, what do the Mets do in the future about the catching position?  Some people advocate defense first and a .250 average for a catcher.  Is he a strong enough defensive catcher that replacement level hitting is acceptable?  Do you roll the dice on finally getting a healthy year from d’Arnaud?  Or is it time to start moving in another long term direction?

Personally, I would advocate a position switch for d’Arnaud.  While 1B would be the best fit for someone who is recovering from arm problems, there’s a 6’5” obstacle in his way there.  Most catchers do not have the foot speed to play the outfield, so it would appear he could be heir apparent to David Wright if 2016 proves to be the Captain’s farewell tour.  You’d still have Wilmer Flores as a backup.

Of course, if Wright’s enormous salary comes off the books then they could go in another direction and perhaps try to ink Neil Walker to stick around to play 3B with Dilson Herrera slotting in at 2B.  That would leave the Travis d’Arnaud question unresolved. 

So is it time for the Mets to think about another catcher or is d’Arnaud still the man of the present and the near future?


Anonymous said...

Wright has four years and $57M left on his contract after 2016.

Hard to believe he would retire a la his buddy Cuddyer.

That is just too much to leave on the table, if he still thinks he can play.

Tom Brennan said...

Wright would not retire without insurance payments

Tom Brennan said...

d"Arnaud at 3B only if the shoulder cooperated. You need a strong arm to play 3rd - plus a vacancy. So hopefully a cortisone shot and he'll be good in 2 weeks.

Walker could also stay at 2nd and put Herrera at 3rd next year - may not want to mess with moving Neil.

If Plawecki stays healthy himself and hits .250, Mets could win 100 even if d"Arnaud does not come back in 2016 (which I certainly believe he will). I know we are playing well, but last year's 11 game win streak felt like a fluke. This team you feel could run off a long streak at any time.

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure insurance won't pay out on the policy unless doctors say that Wright can't play anymore. That may happen at some point, but you can't count on that for next year.

Reese Kaplan said...

I agree an average person would never walk away from $57 million, but given what he's earned in his lifetime plus what he earned from his Vitamin Water payout he could afford to do so if he felt he could no longer perform.

Anonymous said...

It's possible--given that he has to work for three hours before each game--that doctors are already prepared to say that he can't play anymore. They may even be willing to say--right now--that playing is too much of a risk to his future health.

Maybe he's only playing because he still thinks he can perform, and if it winds up that he can't, he'll just retire and the insurance would kick in.

Would he hang on, batting .250 with 10 HRs? I think he would.

How about .230 and below? Would the insurance cover the Mets if he can't perform?

If it's true the Mets and Wright won't have a problem getting the insurance to kick in (and we'll never find out unless it happens), the whole conversation about leaving $57M on the table is moot.

But if this is not the case, I'd really like to be shown an example of someone who left that much money on the table, before I'd believe it's possible. The fact that he's already wealthy doesn't matter. It's $57M!!!

Stubby said...

I'm sorry you hate him, but Wright's your third baseman for the foreseeable future. Get used to it. Travis has been injury prone since he's been a pro. It was a caution I raised (not here) when the Dickey trade was made. OTOH, he can be a great offensive player. There was talk a few years back of converting him to the outfield (I don't think he's a clunky old school can't move his feet kind of catcher (like Schwarber), but I also don't see a vacancy at the moment. Maybe when Grandy retires or moves on. In the meantime, I think you have to hope he can get and stay healthy behind the dish. Or trade him. I don't see Travis as a good fit for first or third. Of the two, if you had no other choice, you'd go first.

If d'Arnaud cannot stay healthy, I'm fine with Plawecki going forward. He's a good catcher and, with regular playing time, he should hit "enough". I'd again point out that this team is built on pitching. When you're built around pitching--usually--fielding is the next most important ingredient, especially up the middle (catcher, short, center). Offense is a distant third in importance. I know, I know, "Chicks dig the long ball". But, if you want to win, its pitching, defense, then offense...in that order.

Mack's Mets © 2012