While the New York Mets were making some splashes this offseason with the additions of Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon—and to some degree Chris Young—it’s going to be some of the holdovers from the 2013 squad that may hold the key to success in 2014.
One such player that could hold the key as to whether the Mets have a successful season is everyone’s favorite catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud.
In an injury-plagued rookie season, d’Arnaud failed to make a splash in 2013, posting a mediocre .202/.285/.262 slash line to go with just one home run and five RBI’s in 99 at-bats. Obviously, his transition to the big leagues was not seamless, as he had to overcome a foot injury early in the season. As soon as he was healthy and ready to go, he was thrust into the starting position almost immediately without much time to recuperate and get his swing down in Las Vegas.
At the time of his debut, the Mets still had John Buck on the roster and the Mets were still trotting out d’Arnaud for the majority of the games behind the plate. So, with Buck still on the roster, d’Arnaud had to look over his shoulder knowing that a seasoned vet was always at risk at taking back his job. That uncertainty was not exactly conducive for success. Eventually Buck was traded (which was long expected), but d’Arnaud never got into the groove of things and struggled mightily in his rookie season.
Certainly not is all lost, as d’Arnaud should be ready to come back in the 2014 season with some vigor. He could be vital to the Mets’ success in 2014. After all, this was a guy who was traded for R.A. Dickey and was the central piece of that deal with the Toronto Blue Jays—not Noah Syndergaard.
d’Arnaud has a good, developing rapport with the staff (Zack Wheeler, for one, had some very complimentary things to say about him) and how he builds on that could be of pivotal importance for the Mets.
How he fits in the lineup should be interesting as well.
So, where will d’Arnaud hit? He is probably best suited batting seventh in the lineup this upcoming season, as this will lessen the expectations and he could go about his business in a non-burdensome capacity. With David Wright, Granderson, Young and perhaps Ike Davis/Lucas Duda batting before him, d’Arnaud should feel more comfortable at the plate this season.
In any case, d’Arnaud’s progress is crucial if the Mets want to have a turnaround season. Obviously, his health is of critical importance, too, as his backups are largely untested, which Jim O’Malley explained in a fine piece earlier this week. Also of note was the Mets just signing Taylor Teagarden to a minor-league contract and inviting him to spring training.
While there may be still some growing pains to contend with when it comes to d’Arnaud this year, this could be a transformative season for the catching prospect. Here’s hoping it all comes together for d’Arnaud.