Mack - Travis d'Arnaud


Good morning.

Boy, did I like it when this guy became a Met.

And I not only thought he was the blue chip in the deal that sent Cy Young pitcher R.A. Dickey to Toronto, but I though we wouldn’t have to look for another catcher for possibly 10 years.

The first problem is he always seems to be injured. He’s only had 974 at-bats in his four seasons in Queens, with only 239 in 2015 and 251 last year.

The second problem is his once projected power has never happened. There’s only 30 home runs in those 974 at bats, with a slugging percentage of .393.

Should we just give up on Travis d’Arnaud? He only turned 28 years old 10 days ago and doesn’t become eligible for free agency until 2020. His current 2017 A1 salary of $1.875mil is affordable for a lifetime 4-year .245-BA catcher. The problem is .245 would be just fine if your catcher had mad defensive skills, which d’Arnaud does not have.

Should we stay with guy until Tomas Nido matures, who has an ETA of 2019?

Reese Kaplan, of Mack’s Mets, added –

When the Mets acquired Travis d’Arnaud from the Blue Jays he was considered the crown jewel of the package they received for R.A. Dickey and Josh TholeWuilmer Becerra was coming off injury and just 18 years old.  Flamethrower Noah Syndergaard was a few years away and many felt a major injury waiting to happen.  John Buck was a salary dump by the Blue Jays who only needed him as a backup and now they had Thole coming to take over that role.

Unfortunately things did not progress for d’Arnaud as the Mets had hoped.  He’s one of those players in the mold of Moises Alou or Cliff Floyd who seemed forever to be plagued by injuries.  He’s never managed to put in a full season in the majors.  In less than half a season in 2015 he demonstrated what he’s capable of doing by providing 12 HRs and 49 RBIs while hitting .268.  Extrapolated over a full season and that’s over 25 HR/90 RBI production.

Unfortunately injuries struck once again in 2016 and limited his action to 251 ABs.  Given his production, that may be a good thing as he was plain awful.  He hit just .247/4/15 over MORE at-bats than he had had in 2015.
The question the Mets are pondering is which reality can they project going forward?  If you look at the minor league record, he average about .290/19/85 over every 500 ABs.  Consequently there is potential there.  You have to wonder to what extent the injuries were responsible for him overcompensating and changing his basic swing mechanics last year.
It is well known that the Mets tried to obtain Jonathon Lucroy from the Brewers during last year’s July trading deadline before he was eventually dealt to the Rangers.  That couldn’t have boded well for d’Arnaud’s confidence either.

Defensively, d’Arnaud reminds many of Mike Piazza in that he’s in the game primarily for what he can do with the bat.  He’s not particularly good at throwing out runners, though he allegedly excels at the sports-agent created metric called pitch framing.  Even so, the Mets pitchers fared much better when Rene Rivera was behind the plate so that even further calls into question the validity of what impact that skill has on the game.

The hope when they obtained d’Arnaud was that he would become the kind of offensive player Ted Simmons was during his long career.  Expectations have been tempered significantly and perhaps current Cubs backup catcher Miguel Montero is a better aspirational comp.  For each 162 game period he would deliver .259/18/78.  I think at this point the Mets would do cartwheels if Travis d’Arnaud would be healthy enough and consistent enough to provide that much with the bat.  Whether or not he can is still very much in the air.  A decent year along those lines would make people feel comfortable about that position until Tomas Nido is available.  Another bad year will likely have the Mets scrambling for a replacement to tide them over until that day arrives. 

Christopher Soto, of Mack's Mets, adds - 

Man…What could have been when it comes to d’Arnaud. In the past, I remained confident that d’Arnaud could always bounce back and reach his prospect peak because his old injuries were of the “non-lingering” category. Not anymore though as a rotator cuff injury that sidelined him for much of 2016 has pretty much sapped any remaining arm strength he had left. 

Quite frankly, I’m not so certain that d’Arnaud is even the starting catcher going into 2017. Despite posting a terrible .222 AVG, the Mets starting pitchers flourished with Rene Rivera behind the plate posting an ERA over 2 runs per 9 IP LOWER, as well as, a K/9 rate almost 1 K better per 9 innings than with d'Arnaud behind the plate. In fact, Mets pitchers even worked better with Plawecki behind the dish over d'Arnaud.

D'Arnaud will certainly get an opportunity to win his job back during spring training, however, as long as Rene Rivera is working well with Generation K 2.0.....I can't imagine Travis actually winning the job back.

Mack's Opinion: - A team can only have no many needs on one season. I’m sure the Mets would rethink both this position and the availability of someone like Matt Wieters, if they could have traded off Jay Bruce or accept the resignation of David Wright. I’m an old GM and one has the responsibility to operate with some sense of profitability.

My guess is that d’Arnaud will be the starting catcher for the Mets in 2017, but I can’t guarantee anything past this year. Also, if he goes down one more time he could lose his job permanently to his once understudy, Kevin Plawecki.


Thomas Brennan said...

Make or break year for Travis. Please make it and don't break anything else.

He is the classic guy you think of when you run into the person who says "ballplayers are paid WAY too much. All they do is play ball," It is a tough sport to really succeed in, and no success, no really big bucks.

Mack Ade said...

It is my understanding that he has worked hard this off-season to correct on my pet peeve... his erratic batting stance and point the bat at planet Saturn...

Thomas Brennan said...

I did read that, also read that it is an effort in progress. Hopefully, he progresses fast.

Richard Jones said...

Christopher I am wondering if you have those stats broken down by pitcher. Rivera caught a lot of Syndergaard. That would have given him an advantage over the other two catchers.
It was obvious to me Rivera was the better catcher last year. I'm just wondering if it was really by 2.3 earned runs or was some of the 2.3 earned runs a result of catching better pitchers?

Christopher Soto said...

I have those broken down by pitcher and then added together to give the best statisical view possible.

Heck even Harvey was better with Rivera behind the plate.

Eddie Corona said...

Me too Mack... Seeing what Thor has become people forget that D'arnaud was the key to the deal...
I really thought we were getting our JORGE POSADA...

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