Travis D’Arnaud, the outfield and other stories to keep you warm

Looking ahead 1.3 months into the future I see a number of exciting storylines to keep Met fans (even those who have lost heart with the 2013 season already) something to watch.  I thought I would get this boulder rolling early so we could get some discussion started about where it might land (and whom it might squash).

The Future Face of the Franchise:

The team is going to be throwing a LOT of weight onto the shoulders of David Wright.  He’s the face of the franchise and the last remaining player who you would call a “Star” on the team.  Media attention will be directed Wright’s way as the New York Mets are now firmly HIS team.

With that being said, there is a sub-plot to whom that mantle will fall in the future:

Ike Davis, 1B: Can Ike Davis put it all together and have a full season of his best baseball?  If he can he’s a Top 5 1B.  If he can’t, he’s a .250 hitter who is productive but, like Kevin McReynolds, get’s overlooked.

Matt Harvey, RHP: Matt Harvey had quite a jaw-dropping debut in the big leagues.  I expect him to be roughed up here and there in his first full season but there is a TON of reason for optimism.  As good as Harvey was (equal or better than any other Met Rookie’s debut) scouts and baseball insiders still place Harvey as second fiddle to other players.  Instead of listing them here, I’ll talk about them below.

Travis D’Arnaud, C: The first storyline involving D’Arnaud will be if he’s a future “Star” for the franchise or if he will be another cautionary tale about prospects.  D’Arnaud comes to the Mets with a good deal of hype and with a high likelihood of contributing in Flushing during the 2013 season.  Catchers are not usually Mike Piazza or Buster Posey, though.  D’Arnaud has a lot to prove before the Mets can anoint him a “Star.”

Zack Wheeler, RHP: Discussion of future stars cannot exclude Wheeler, who some have always regarded more highly than Matt Harvey, and there is a reasonably good chance that his name comes up when (not if) Johan Santana gets hurt.  Wheeler has “Ace” stuff and has shown the fruits of his potential in various stops through the minors.  Is Wheeler better than Harvey?  Can they both succeed in the majors?  When will Wheeler contribute?  All good questions.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: Signing David Wright to an extension left the Mets with two options: Move Flores off of his natural position (3B) or look to trade him.  If you want to get a glimpse of the Met plans you need look no further than the trade of Jefry Marte.  Now Flores is a lock to be the starting 3B for AAA Las Vegas and in a lineup that likely includes Travis D’Arnaud he’ll likely be showcased pretty well.  The chances of him being the “Face” of the Mets is SUPER slim and would require an injury to Wright or the Mets splitting his time between 3B and 2B.

Noah Syndergaard, RHP: Snydergaard will likely be pitching in the lower levels of the minors but his placement in the upper echelon of Met prospects is warranted.  I would expect Snydergaard to get more than a little attention this Spring as a future “Ace” candidate.

Matt Den Dekker, CF: The “Underdog” of this story is Den Dekker.  The strikeout machine who obliterated AA at the start of the year.  Unlike Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter, Collin Cowgill etc… he has the upside to still be a “Star” if only he can get all the pieces working together.  I expect his name to play in a few storylines this Spring.

The Outfield Rotation:

The Mets currently have 9 legitimate (for the Mets) options for their starting outfield.  The outfield will hardly be a source for accolades but it’s going to be a talking point even if the Mets do sign a legitimate “everyday” option.  The Mets will be throwing a lot of lesser players at the outfield wall and hoping a few stick by playing over their levels.  They will likely run out platoons for two of the outfield positions at a time with Lucas Duda set to receive the lion’s share of the permanent playing time in left.

Lucas Duda, [L] LF: Duda had a very good looking emergence in 2011.  So good he popped up on the fantasy radar.  His 2012 was so gloomy that he sank back to the minors.  The hope is that Duda can at least round into a 25 HR hitter who can generate some RBIs with his lumberjack swing.  The real issue is if he can hit consistently or hit lefties at all.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, [L] LF, CF, RF: Is Nieuwenhuis as good as he was when he first came up to the majors?  Is he as bad as he looked when the Mets sent him back down to the minors.  The answer (as it usually is) is somewhere between and the future role for “Captain Kirk” is likely going to be as the 4th or 5th outfielder, but at the moment he’s the Met’s best lefty option for centerfield (SO IT WOULD SEEM).

Mike Baxter, [L] LF, CF, RF: Baxter is a homegrown hero who is likely to make the team and stick with the organization for a while but the Mets want him on the bench as a reserve rather than starting 60% of the time as the left platoon for Justin Turner.

Collin Cowgill, [R] LF, CF, RF: Cowgill will start 70% of the games (unless the Mets add another OF).  Don’t believe me if you like but Terry Collins is not going to roll out an all lefty outfield with Davis and Murphy playing every day.  Cowgill’s splits are significant but not as disastrous as some.

Justin Turner, [R] LF, RF: Can “Big Red” play the outfield?  Maybe.  He’s faster than Josh Satin… so he actually is being given a shot.  While I’m confident that Turner makes the team I don’t see him being a capable defensive OF and with Duda already a likely starter I can’t see him lasting.

Brian Bixler, [R] LF, RF: Bixler can play almost anywhere and I think his defensive chops in the outfield will cut it where Turner’s might not.  Bixler, Turner and Quintanilla might all wind up as “Super-Subs” for a team with loads of deficiencies.

Andrew Brown, [R] LF, RF: If I said that I could trap lightning in a bottle, I would be lying.  If I said I could keep time in a bottle, I’d be Jim Croce.

Matt Den Dekker, [L] CF: Den Dekker’s secondary storyline is that he could 100% win the starting CF job.  The key would be that he’d need to win it outright and outplay both Nieuwenhuis, Baxter and Cowgill to earn a 90% play-share.  He is capable of it.  Even if the Mets refuse to give him a full-fledged shot at the majors this spring, expect Spring Training to be an early audition for Matt Den Dekker.

Juan Lagares, [R] LF, RF: The man who I think least likely to break camp as a MLB player is Lagares.  He just doesn’t have the speed or power to justify him being a starter and the options of Cowgill, Turner, Bixler and Brown are all more likely to succeed.

The Starting Rotation:

The Mets have Johan Santana, Jonathan Niese, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee and Jenrry Mejia slated as starters for the 2013 season.  There is still a chance that the Mets sign someone that would be guaranteed a rotation spot but let’s look at those names who could EARN their way into the 2013 rotation.

Dillon Gee, RHP: Gee’s spot is guaranteed, right?  WRONG!  He was hurt and seriously hurt.  The Mets don’t know what Gee is going to look like this Spring so even if the Mets were to sign Shaun Marcum, you can’t bank on Gee as a lock for the rotation.

Jenrry Mejia, RHP: Mejia’s spot in the rotation is hardly secure.  He 100% would need to beat out Hefner, Schwinden and McHugh in Spring Training to earn the job.  His off-season has hardly been sparkling either.  I’d be willing to bet that Mejia starts in AAA even if he’s the best option by a small margin.

Jeremy Hefner, RHP: Should Mejia falter, the next in line would be Hefner.  He proved that he could eat innings and the Mets would be remiss if they were to say that wasn’t important to them.  Hefner has more of a proven record than the next two options.

Chris Schwinden, RHP: Schwinden bounced around a lot in 2012 and never pitched well in the majors but he’s still basically Dillon Gee (without whatever magic that Gee has) so he’s an option as an innings eater and factors into the race.

Collin McHugh, RHP: Are you on Twitter?  Yes?  Follow Collin McHugh, he’s a funny guy.  The “Chubbier Whiter Fred Armisen”, has a higher ceiling than Gee, Hefner or Schwinden but it’s not so high that the Mets need to worry about being too protective.  If he’s the best or one of the best pitching options in Spring Training the Mets will give his name a lot of consideration.

Jeurys Familia, RHP: Can Familia sneak back into the race to be a starter.  I’d put the odds around 100:1 but as Jim Carrey might say, “So there’s still a chance!”

Zack Wheeler, RHP: Wheeler needs to do a LOT to be named a starter after the spring.  Actually… the entire team does.  For the Mets to risk Wheeler earning the “Super 2” status the team needs to show that they can win in 2013.  This isn’t likely.  For Wheeler it doesn’t stop there because he ALSO needs to pitch practically perfect baseball for the Mets to risk him in 2013.  We’re talking about him have a sub 2.00 ERA and memorable battles (that he won) against “Stars”.

Starting Catcher:

John Buck is likely to be given the reins to start the year but if he’s severely outplayed by D’Arnaud there is no guarantee of this.  Remember when Ike Davis looked like a “Star” in the spring but the Mets STILL sent him to AAA.  This is the situation that D’Arnaud could be looking at in 2013.  The silver lining for Met fans is that John Buck still profiles as their best option (barring D’Arnaud) for hitting 5th between Davis and Duda/Murphy.



17 comments for “Travis D’Arnaud, the outfield and other stories to keep you warm

  1. January 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I can’t imagine Gee will have to fight for his spot in the rotation. Unless they sign a proven ML starter or several risky gambles, the club just doesn’t have the depth not too. If he’s healthy, he’ll pitching in Queens. If he’s not healthy, he won’t be pitching anywhere.

    • David Groveman
      January 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Okay Mike,

      Here is a scenario:

      Dillon Gee pitches in Spring Training (I’m not going to say he gets obliterated) but he’s roughed up for a 4.50 ERA and his general velocity is down or his location is off.


      Collin McHugh pitches for a near 3.00 ERA in Spring Training.

      Which pitcher do you want the Mets to bring up to Flushing?

      Dillon Gee has the job but the injury makes it’s assured status a little more nebulous, that’s all.

      • January 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm

        In that scenario, I bring up Gee and keep an eye on McHugh.
        Spring Training stats do not equal MLB stats and I was not crazy with what I saw of McHugh last season. Maybe he looked a lot better in the minors and will be a ML caliber pitcher, but he’d have to do significantly better and Gee would have to be significantly worse before opening day for that to happen.

        • David Groveman
          January 8, 2013 at 9:23 am

          Fair enough, the thing I’m saying is not that Gee won’t have the job, just that it’s not ASSURED.

  2. Name
    January 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Gee is fine. He’s not injured. Don’t know where you are getting the reports that his health is in jeapordy. He has a job if he’s healthy, even if the results are not there in ST.

    Where’s Aaron Laffey on the SP depth? I think he’s ahead of all those guys you mentioned and my odds on favorite for the 5th spot(barring another acquisition).

    I seriously doubt that Turner will be given a shot to play the OF.

    My pick for the future face is actually Jon Niese. I think he will take the next step in the next year or two, and be more productive than Wheeler/Harvey with his time with the Mets.

    • David Groveman
      January 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Gee got hurt and ended his season. Not every pitcher returns from injury to be the same pitcher they were before. I don’t think he’s a lock. I suppose Laffey could be added but it would be cutting and pasting things said about other lesser options.

      The Turner bit I got from a source that he’s considered the second righty platoon option for the OF.

      Your future face of the team is an interesting choice but thus far he has lacked the “Wow”.

      • Name
        January 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm

        But thing with Gee is that he didn’t really have true baseball(or sports) injury, it was more of a health problem, like Jon Niese’s irregular heart condition. He doesn’t really need to rehab any muscles, ligaments, or let bones heal, so physically he should remain “unchanged”.

        I agree that there is some uncertainty with him, as with any pitcher who doesn’t finish a season healthy and pitching, but every report i’ve seen on Gee has been that he is healthy and ready for a normal Spring Training, and Gee himself has said that as well. He was even able to have bullpen sessions in September last year. You’re the first person i’ve seen mention that Gee’s spot was even in jeapordy. Did you happen to find a report saying the contrary? Or is it just pure speculation on your part?

        Keep in mind that Gee is the #4 right now. For him to not be in the rotation, there would need to be not one, but 2 pitchers to overtake him. I just don’t see 2 pitchers in the Met organization who is a better bet than Gee right now. McHugh could possibly outpitch him(even then i wouldn’t go with someone on ST stats),but are you really going to bypass Gee for Meija/Schwinden/Hefner/Laffey?

        • David Groveman
          January 8, 2013 at 9:24 am

          In the post I noted that Gee only lands on the hot-seat if the Mets sign someone who is guaranteed a rotation spot ahead of him.

      • JerryGrote
        January 8, 2013 at 8:15 am

        Gee didn’t have arm surgery; I’d guess the only real reason to consider a decline in ability is if he comes to camp overweight.

        The greater likelihood seems to me that Santana pitches less than 60 than Gee fails to pitch 170.

        • David Groveman
          January 8, 2013 at 9:24 am

          No question

  3. Charles
    January 7, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Gee has a spot…without question. He was throwing back in September. He just started throwing again. Also, he’s a “pitcher” and could most likely pitch through a slight loss in velocity without suffering much negativity in his stats. Either way, I think it’s moot because every report has him doing and feeling fine and dandy. His injury was a blood clot and actually, I think he’ll be even better now that it’s gone.

    • January 7, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      I won’t hold my breath that he’ll be significantly better with the clot gone, but I’ll take Gee for what he is, a good back of the rotation starter. Maybe he gets a touch better between the recovery and maturity…

      • David Groveman
        January 8, 2013 at 9:36 am


  4. January 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    If Wilmer Flores shows that he can hit consistently in the majors, why can’t he be used like Michael Young was in Texas? Rest David Wright regularly so that he winds with about 150 games. Take 35-40 games at 2nd base to sub for Daniel Murphy. Finally when playing in American League ball parks you cab DH him. You project him for 250 at-bats that way and not overwhelm him at the same time. I don’t think the Mets are going to be as bad as everyone thinks. A lot will depend on how Terry Collins “manages” this team.

    • David Groveman
      January 8, 2013 at 9:28 am

      Flores as a super-sub is tricky. His defensive chops say that he will be about as good/bad as Murphy at 2nd and not as good as Wright at 3rd. I have hopes for Wilmer making big waves in Las Vegas and that translating into a big trade for the Mets.

      While it’s not a perfect or likely scenario I’ll point out that the Marlins are dealing with an unhappy Giancarlo Stanton and that Flores playing 3rd fits in with their needs.

  5. Metsense
    January 7, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Holding d’Arnaud (and for that matter Wheeler) back no matter how well their spring training may be a good business move so that the Mets avoid Super 2 status. It would also give an opportunity for another young catcher Anthony Recker to be given a chance. What do you think of him David?
    Recker:only 66 MLB AB’s : AAA stats 10 HR, 33 RBI, .789 OPS Recker seemed to be a good minor league player and could catch on as the backup if d”Arnard is not ready. He also is a RH first baseman which could spell Davis.

    • David Groveman
      January 8, 2013 at 9:30 am

      I actually agree 100% that for the business of baseball they should be held back with one caveat.

      Let us say that Buck and D’Arnaud both play well and a team loses their starting catcher in the WBC. The Mets can then trade Buck for things they need more.

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