Lots and lots can change in the rest of July and August in terms of who is still with the Mets and who is not.

It seems very likely that bopping, low-key  Lucas Duda will be gone, given his pending free agency and the pending arrival of red-hot first rounder Dominic Smith.  (And, right on cue, Sandy Alderson, who hacks into our web server for pending articles so he really knows what's going on - LOL - trades the Big Lebowski last night).

Either Asdrubel Cabrera or Neil Walker may be gone too, given their level of salary involved in 2018 and beyond.  Most likely BOTH will go.

Jose Reyes would like to stay and has played so much better of late, but he will be even older and (most likely) slower in 2018.

TJ Rivera and Wilmer Flores have been mentioned a bit as possible trade pieces as the deadline approaches.

Amed Rosario is waiting for Sandy to very shortly unlatch the door to Queens just a tiny bit so Rosario can kick it in and bust the hinges to avoid locking him back outside again.

So how would I shape the 2018 infield given all of that?


Amed Rosario is Keith Law’s #1 prospect in the entire minors right now, so I am believing he will be a strong Rookie of the Year candidate next year (unless he gets too many at bats this year to qualify, which I hope is the case).  A solid bat, strong baserunner, and excellent defender. 

Jose Reyes will re-sign at a reasonable amount, mentor Amed, and substitute occasionally at short too.

2018 cost?  Cheap!


Dominic Smith and his lefty bat will start at 1B against righties, and Wilmer Flores will slide over to first against lefties.  Smith is on a very similar hitting path to Flores when Wilmer was his age – both tearing up AAA, making really good contact. Smith will likely to transition to the bigs much as Wilmer did, without any major hiccups. 

In 2019, Smith is my everyday 1B, unless power-packed Pete Alonso surges out of the minors with a booming power bat and forces a trade.

2018 cost?  Cheap!


I like Wilmer there, glove (such as it is) and all. 

I want to see Wilmer play a lot. 

This year, he was hardly used in April due to the infield logjam caused by resigning Walker, and went just 6 for 35. 

After that, he started playing more and hit .304 from May 1 through July 24.   Nice.

My goal for Wilmer would be to start 150 games…with all 12 games off being night games against righties.  Why?

In 2017, he has hit .386 in day games, .239 in night games.  In 2016, .294 in the day, .254 at night.  And 25 points higher in 2015 in the day than at night. 

He has hit about .320 the past two seasons vs. lefties, .250 vs. righties.  His .276 so far vs. righties in 2017 indicates to me that he is improving in that regard.

I think once he knows he is an everyday starter, his hitting with RISP will improve (.208 in 2017, .225 in 2016).

Despite some continuing sporadic play, Flores in 2016 and 2017 has had 536 at bats, 27 doubles, 26 homers, and 78 RBIs, only 81 Ks, and .274/.316/.473.  Solid starter #’s, especially for a 25 year old just hitting his prime. And one with nearly 1,500 major league plate appearances already.

On days Wilmer slides over to 1B, TJ Rivera can slide over to 2B.

I think Wilmer can be the next Daniel Murphy as veteran sportswriter Chris Soto suggested TJ Rivera could well be.  I also happen to agree that TJ Rivera can too, and there is nothing wrong with having two guys who play like the 2017 version of Murphy in the same infield.

2018 cost?  Moderate!


TJ Rivera is my choice there.  He has hit .306/.337/.449 in the equivalent of his first full half season spanning 2016 and 2017.   Good enough to be a starting 3B, and he may well get better.  Glove needs work, but he’ll be OK, because he is a 110% worker.  Reyes may not like 3B, but he can certainly back TJ up there occasionally.

2018 cost?  Cheap.


Jose Reyes is our # 1 utility infielder unless he wants too much money – again.  Somehow, I think he’ll get modest bucks and stay.  Matt Reynolds does not hit enough.  Gavin Cecchini doesn’t either – at least yet.  Phil Evans has heated up from a cold start, but his glovework is not strong and has limited power and speed.

So let’s try two other names, both in AA:

  1. KEVIN TAYLOR: Taylor is playing the infield and outfield (mostly outfield to give playing time to others) and he has hit .314/.399/.400 in 74 games for Binghamton.  Last year in 112 St Lucie games, .288/.386/.404.  Dude is solid!  He’s played 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and the outfield a lot in the minors.  Not a speedster; glove is OK/
  2. LUIS GUILLORME: I see Luis as an excellent defensive SS and 2B back up, a gritty pinch hitter who can get on base, and a little bit of speed.   When you have a 9th inning one run lead, it will be nice to have Luis, Amed, and Smith in the game at the same time for defensive purposes.  Luis, MVP of the South Atlantic League in 2015, is at .285/.367/.331.  Any sign of power would be a real surprise, but defense can (and does) win games just like offense can.
  3. ANDRES GIMINEZ: Having a fine year at the age of 18 for Savannah, “Amed Rosario V. 2.0” could show up in Queens in 2019 and be a fine middle infield starter in 2020, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves – this article’s focus is on 2018.   We need an Andy who is Dandy in Queens soon, don't we, John Sterling?

2018 cost?  Cheap!


A lot could change, but we may have a very competent, very, very inexpensive infield in 2018.  Fewer long balls, though, offset by much improved defense.

BIG LEBOWSKI FOOTNOTE: Lucas the quiet, reserved giant, has moved on, and was all class, hoping his soon-to-be-successor, Dominic Smith, becomes a ten time all star.

Sadly, he was in the midst of his most potent offensive season, shortened somewhat by his freak elbow hyperextension injury that cost him weeks earlier this season.  He ends his Mets career with 760 games and 125 homers.  I wrote my first article ever for Macks Mets about Duda, imploring him to be more aggressive in not letting himself get to 2 strikes because of his poor hitting then. 

In about 1390 career at bats when his at bat ended on 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, or 3-2, he only hit about .160, but was Ruthian in his other at bats.  I always felt the "work the pitcher" mantra of Alderson was a detriment to Lucas.  I wish him well...and, again, swing away, Lucas, swing away.

Alderson was unsure if he was going to call up Dom Smith right away, so he demanded another D Smith (Drew) in the trade for the Dude; let's hope this fireballing bullpen righty can out-do Vic Black for the Mets starting soon. 


Thomas Brennan said...

Dom Smith hitting .383 in July with almost an extra base hit per game, so bring him up when he is HOT.

He is a .363 hitter this year against righties. Bring him up immediately and platoon him for now so he starts out successful... his .363 vs. righties ought to translate into .250 or more in Queens.

Robb said...

I would not be surprised to see the mets re-sign Neil walker if he indicates a willingness to play third. It just seems like going into a season without 1 real veteran among the infield would be a bit much. i also think it will be for less then 10 million.

Thomas Brennan said...

Robb, I'd not mind Walker again if it was one year and under $10 million. He is considered a clubhouse leader. Just gotta keep him on the field.

But Robb, what about David Wright next year? :)

Mack Ade said...

First thing first...

Keep playing ALL the expiring contracts so they are showcased, both through the weekend, but also in August where many may still be traded.

We have to keep trying to get as many Drew Smith's back for these guys that are going away anyway at the end of the year.

There is no rush for Dom Smith, nor is there any rush for Rosario. They will have their chance real soon.

And lasly Tom, T.J. Rivera is NOT a potential starting third baseman. He does a lot of things just fine, but playing third at this level isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

Why sit d. Smith vs lefties, tough lefty ok , he needs to learn.

Reese Kaplan said...

Tomorrow there will be an article on T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores -- brothers from another mother.

Thomas Brennan said...

Anonymous, I would not sit Smith permanently, but he was hitting .255 against lefties in AAA. I always think for a guy like him, get him started successfully, then work in the lefties, just like they did with MC Hammer.

Mack, you may well be right on TJ defensively, but he has proven us all wrong before, so why can't he make himself a good/decent fielder by season's end there?

I may 100% be on your side by season's end - the last 60 games can tell a whole lot.

Thomas Brennan said...

Reese: "Clones from Another Jones"?

Hobie said...

I too think they'll keep Walker & play him & Wilmer regularly (not sure which os 2B and which is 3B). Reyes & TJ as UT's.

And BTW, saw Vic Black pitch the other night for the Harrisburg Senators (Wash AA) in Richmond. How about that, AA!

Eddie Corona said...

Tom I usually agree with you but can't in this case...
the idea of the next Murphy... Murphy wasn't great as a Met except for the 6 week run to the WS... No where else did he show that potential...He didn't even believe in himself otherwise why sign for 3 year 30 Million (from memory i did not look it up) ?
He would have make 13 million plus on a qualifying offer... to suggest that Flores / TJ could be the Next Murphy mean they would have to explode and perhaps that happens ... But some players are great 300 ab players... that's what I think you have in Flores... He plays against every lefty and there will be enough days off and injuries for him to start...but to give him 600+ at bats he has never profiled to be that player... and no one else thinks so because no one is offering to trade for him...
TJ i like more... but again as a 300+ at bat guy... He doesn't have the arm or quickness for 3b... Not as a starter... he has guts... he wont hit for power but will be a tough out and when you need a single with 2 outs and man on 2b i like TJ...
Both flores and TJ should be on the team but neither should be handed a starter job... I argue let them battle for 2b at bats... while the other is the top pinch hitter...
I could argue that cecchini probably deserves the shot at 2b ... We've seen Flores and TJ ... we have yet to see what Cecchini does but in short sept call up last year he looked good to me (repeat i am no scout).

Rosario / Smith SS/ 1B not doubt...

I believe 3b should be found out side the organization...

Gary Seagren said...

Also I still don't get the lack of respect for Bruce as he's really our MVP this year. Conforto certainly can play average D right now and he's still learning and for me YC, Conforto and Bruce is my outfield and my 3 4 5 hitters and then build around them. Our biggest problem is were in the world did our pitching go as of now we have exactly 2 starters we can count on and all the rest you could throw in a pile and pick 3. At least there's plenty of $$$ for the bullpen because that's another problem area.

Thomas Brennan said...

Eddie, I agree Murph sold himself low - I think it was either 3/$36MM or 3/$37.5MM. I said back then to sign Murph (probably 3/33) and trade Duda, putting Murph at first. Oh well...

Flores: the only time he played full time was in AAA, where he hit like a beast. I'd give him the chance.

Rivera: too early to tell, but if he plays enough the rest of the year, everyone will know better.

Gary - Bruce good for me if he is the best OF we can match with Conforto and Cespedes. Could be a 100 homer trio in 2018. Pitching has (as you indicate) been THE major disappointment this year, along with Cespedes missing so much time and being unhealthy for much of the rest of the time. Weird year.

Mack Ade said...

Tom -

If you want to play T.J. at third base until he becomes a good one, do it in the minors.

Thomas Brennan said...

Jay Bruce last 400 at bats in 2016-17 as a Met? 30 homers, 78 RBI, .275. Not shabby at all.

Mack, can TJ catch? :)

Mack's Mets © 2012