Boy, this time last year, most of us were salivating about not if, but when Dominic Smith would shove lumbering Lucas Duda aside and become our All Star level first baseman for the next decade. 

Hey, where's my remote?  I want to do some fast forwarding.

Fast-forward a few months into the 2017 season:

Smith gets called up by the Mets, but is significantly overweight, and then proceeds to hit almost 70 points lower than his call-up weight in a protracted rookie cameo.

Fast forward to the off season:

The Mets, clearly unconvinced at least as to Smith's 2018 readiness, sign a broken down Adrian Gonzalez for cheap. Meanwhile, Mets fans still hope Smith can have a career as good as the one Adrian has put together.

Fast forward to spring training 2018:

A Dom Smith who showed 2017 bad judgment by arriving for his Mets debut 30-40 pounds overweight then goes bad again by oversleeping on day 1 of camp....then, likely trying to overcompensate for that, in his first spring game, Smith is busting on the base paths and (ouch!) misses about 6 weeks when he badly strains a quad.  Wally Pipp felt his pain.  Just like that, Mr. Gonzalez, the job is yours.

Fast forward to yesterday:

After 2 straight 0 for 4, 2 K games, Gonzalez has slipped to .220 with just 3 extra base hits in 50 at bats, after a weak spring. But, channeling his star past, he has managed a solid 12 RBIs, so his clutch gene is still functioning.

Fast forward to the future:

It you were presented with these 2018 stats for three 1B candidates in a blind test, who would you pick?

A. 17 games, .373/.479/.678, 11 RBIs.

B. 19 games, .349/.488/.619, 17 RBIs.

C. 17 games, .246/.378/.426, 6 RBIs.

Side note: only 4 errors between the 3 so far, so let's say defense is not a factor in your selection process.

Not knowing their minor league levels, you would clearly pick A or B.  So, who are A and B?

A. Peter Alonso, AA super slugger.  I heard a caller on WFAN say that Pete's exit velocity is right up there with the top 5 major leaguers.  Assuming that is not fake news, that is thrilling.

B. Jeremy Vasquez, a 21 year old lefty hitter for Columbia in A ball who frankly is super-impressive so far.  After all, .488 OBP's don't grow on trees, folks.  And, despite lots of walks, he has lots of RBIs.  Vasquez may be a relative unknown to Mets fans - but that may soon change.

C. Dominic Smith - putting up moribund results in AAA in his quest for a return to the big leagues.  Smith has lost tremendous ground since being the soon-to-be-heir-apparent at this time last year.  

If Gonzalez falters and the Mets decide to discontinue their experiment with him in 2018 in trying to see if he can resume his solid career in 2018, will Smith be ready?

So far, not so good, and there are 4 obstacles for Smith:

1) Gonzalez could easily heat up, delaying his departure.

2) Wilmer Flores is certainly capable of playing 1B.

3) Jay Bruce could move to 1B, allowing capable OF's Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares more playing time.

4) Every day that passes, Pounding Pete Alonso is closer to being ready to commence what could be a stellar major league career.  If he keeps up his prodigious early offense for, let's say, another 6 weeks, could he follow in Michael Conforto's footsteps and jump quickly to the majors straight from AA to the Mets?  Conforto's meteoric rise is precedent there to say "sure, why not Pete soon?".

Maybe Gonzalez falters, and Smith soon ignites, and he gets called up.  Still seems a reasonable outcome.

But, at this point, one can at least speculate if he will ever be the Mets 1B, or perhaps be called up but later traded. 

Because, if he does get called up, is he still trade fodder given Alonso's encroaching shadow?  Not to mention the surging Vasquez, who is probably a mid-2020 ETA guy.

Stay tuned.  

Let's get to first base on this before we speculate too much.


Eddie Corona said...

I have always been on the Alonzo Bandwagon but who is this Jeremy Vasquez...
How did we acquire him? this is the first i have heard of him???

Thomas Brennan said...

27Th rounder last year..did well in 2017, killing it this year.

Eddie Corona said...

yup that's a good reason why i never heard of him...

Thomas Brennan said...

Awful loss. Awful.

dsheacpa said...

Good article I wasn’t familiar with Vazquez. I only knew him as the guy between witaker and brodley who I have been following. Maybe they’ll all be in St. Lucie soon

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