Posted by Mack Ade at 10:00 AM
Everyone is sort of debating and discussing what the final Opening Day lineup will look like this 2017 season. With this in mind, here is mine that I have been tweaking quietly whenever I get the chance to.
1B Duda 2B Cecchini SS Cabrera 3B Walker LF Cespedes CF Nimmo RF Bruce C d'Arnaud
I actually didn't rearrange much from what I have been thinking and talking about here all preseason long really. I just moved Gavin Cecchini over to second base from shortstop, left Cabrera on his natural shortstop position (by not moving him to third base) and moving Neil Walker over to third base. I think Neil could easily handle this assignment.
The outfield of Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Nimmo, and Jay Bruce is a very good one. We all envisioned Brandon Nimmo taking over CF when the Mets drafted him a few season ago. Well maybe now is that time to see how it this could all play out. There is something about this Nimmo that hits me as perfect for this opportunity exactly right now. Bruce in right field gives the Mets outfield another powerful homerun bat, and veteran know-how to balance with left field. This outfield trio (to me) has everything, speed, power, defense, and batting average capability. It makes sound sense to me Mrs. Wackenabush!
The infield is really solid as well. The Mets do really need to include Cecchini in this 2017 infield mix. I like Gavin the best (right now) on second base; he has turned some decent double plays and he is adjusting well there. He will only get better as he plays more MLB. Allowing him to is key now. He and Nimmo can hit and have a decent enough eye at the plate to improve more consistently. At AAA Vegas last season, Nimmo and Cecchini were their top of the order two batters and overall they did quite well there together. The NY Mets could probably stand to re-evaluate their own top of the order beginning in 2017. This may be such a way to do so using Nimmo and Cecchini. They add the needed youth factor that this team may be lacking, without them. You have to keep developing your franchise's best players and then promoting them to the parent club hopefully to start. Otherwise, their entire individual drafting and skill development is for naught.
These two moves also allow the NY Mets to consider moving Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores. Reasons why are mainly due to the fact that each one has been on the NY Mets awhile now, but yet neither has really owned here a starting job position. Both of these two players can look like starters at times, but both seem to fall short of playing their game at a consistently high level multiple consecutive games. This is not such an easy thing for a younger player to do, as we remember players like Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Kevin Mitchell, and Greg Jeffries. All were players with significant playing capabilities. It's not easy, this consistency thing. My own gut feeling here, is that a change of address to teams that could in fact offer each one a starting position coming out of training camp, may be the best way to go for their own respective careers now, since that guarantee may not be here this season for them again. In the meantime, the NY Mets could obtain in return minor league players to utilize in their own system and for positional developmental purposes.
Makes some sense, you decide.
The 2017 NY Mets bench is not your grandfather's bench by any means. It is way more active in the games and here's how I might suggest designing it...
The five are: OF Granderson, OF Taijeron, INF TJ Rivera, INF Jose Reyes, and C Rene Rivera. But here's the thing, the NY Mets (in my opinion) have not really taken advantage of using their bench players optimally in recent seasons past. To me, this could (possibly) be a reason why so many everyday players here get hurt in-season, some for the remainder of their season too. By playing Granderson three games within every six (I use six games as a typical week's average game cycle) in the outfield (all 3 positions), then TJ Rivera subbing in at second and first base within every six game cycle, Reyes shortstop and third within every six game game, it keeps the starting players all well rested with the intention of keeping them healthier all season long. Staying healthy and having them primal for the playoffs hopefully later on, is key and we have all seen with this team how devastating injuries can often be to this team's later season success. The catcher backup is of course Rene Rivera, with both Kevin Plawecki and Tomas Nido hopefully getting their game ready in the minors, should their call-up be needed.
With this five man bench, it allows for Travis Taijeron to become the later inning pinch-hitter specialist and sub-in player when desired for the corner outfield positions and possibly first base at times as well. Travis is a veteran minor league player with a lot of batting experience and some power game to him. I see in Travis a sincere hunger that seems to fit this particular role quite well I feel. I like this feature to his game. He has hung in there admirably well all preseason I have noticed.
My final take is on Tim Tebow...
If you have ever played this baseball game and gone up through the different levels, you can see as obvious (as can be) that Tebow just needs to play in the games to continue developing his own skillset to its highest level. He will, I have complete and total faith in him. It is so unbelievably obvious to me, just watch. When a player gets promoted to the next level of play, his hits do usually all go to the opposite field. This is because that player is adjusting his hitting/timing to the upgraded pitching that he has most likely not faced before. So what this all means is that he is swinging a little bit behind the pitch, thus the ball being hit going to the opposite field, as opposed to it being pulled some. It is exceedingly common in these situations. It's about timing, getting comfortable at the plate with this increased level of pitching that this batter is now facing. It is nothing more than just this, and it does not matter what the boo birds think between drinks!
Now, once a batter has gained that game time experience and the confidence it brings, then he will add into his own swing more pull and more power. And this is precisely where I see Tebow right now in his own progression. It's completely normal. Tim is seeing the ball well, making more contact, and he is beginning to drive the ball more naturally. To me, Tebow is a natural power hitting outfielder, the kind that doesn't drive up to your stadium with a backseat full of Louisville Lumber too often. Know this Mets fans.
I believe in this Tebow NY Mets player, number 97, and I am absolutely delighted in having him here to be a part of this great team, my longtime ball club. Like I said in my last post, Tim Tebow should start in AA Rumbleponies, then be advanced (when ready) to AAA V51's sometime around the MiLB halfway mark and All-Star game.
So stay strong Mr. Tebow. See you in Port St. Lucie in 2018, a NY Met!