Every day moves us closer to the game we love and every team feels the fresh start coming upon them during the early months of the year. In the Mets’ case, a few simple changes could put the team we love into contention. As most of the fans know, the Mets have been slowly piecing together a playoff team and many believe that the team is two or three moves away from serious contention. With seven bold moves internally, the lineup, rotation, bench and bullpen will be stacked enough for a wild card spot.
#1) Wilmer Flores starts at Shortstop everyday
Before everyone jumps to the typical rebuttal, “you’re just saying this because of the recent report,” let me say that I have entertained the idea of him being the Mets’ shortstop since the offseason began. For the predictable doubters of this idea, take this into consideration; for the 20-25 singles that will pass him that’s 20-25 more extra base hits that he will be hitting over Ruben Tejada or Omar Quintinilla. He has an impressive look after attending the weight camp and beyond that he played shortstop as recent as 2011. Flores is a fierce competitor and one thing that he certainly realizes is that the two best offensive positions are the only positions he can play. He wants a spot and Flores knows that he must improve defensively to play, thus proving this the best decision Terry Collins can make. Granted, if Flores looks lost in Spring Training defensively and it seems like a terrible idea, don’t put him there.
#2) Find the Correct First Base Platoon
At this point, most fans don’t really care if the Mets will have Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. Since the beginning of the offseason, Sandy Alderson banked on the idea of trading one of the two. I’m not going to sit here and decide which one is superior nor will I berate Alderson for not trading them, but just simply say that only one can be on the 40-man roster by March 31st. Just think of the platoon between (Duda/Davis)/Josh Satin. It’s not too farfetched to think that a slash line of .270/.340/.440 with 25 HR and 80 RBI is possible- which is on par with Kendrys Morales production. If something goes wrong with both, there are reinforcements that the Mets have signed to minor league deals. However, if Morales is available after the deadline, sign him as a last resort.
#3) Keep Youth in the Outfield- not too much Young
Two of the major three signings this offseason have been for the outfield and Curtis Granderson seems to be the obvious choice for a corner spot. The other two spots are for the trio of Juan Lagares, Chris Young, and Eric Young Jr. In recent reports, it seems that Lagares could be the odd man out. Not only would this be a mistake defensively but offensively, too. Lagares has shown signs that .275/.320/.400 10 HR/20 SB could be in his future with a gold glove. The starting outfield (from left to right) should be Granderson, Lagares, and Young with Young Jr. on the beach. If Young really wants to play center, let him play there for half a season while Lagares keeps gunning down Bryce Harper in right field. For the argument that we need a leadoff hitter, simply place the guy with 1164 PA batting leadoff (.758 OPS) – Chris Young.
#4) Assemble the correct bench
This seems to be the least important part of a team, but the Cleveland Indians proved everyone wrong by supporting a great bench that propelled the team to the playoffs. The main man on the bench will be either Satin or Duda/Davis and then it comes down to the defensive wizard up the middle, Young Jr., the fifth outfielder, and the backup catcher (we’ll get to that next). The defensive wizard on the bench, who will be replacing Daniel Murphy or Flores in the late innings is going to be: Tejada, Wilfredo Tovar, or Quintinilla. It will really come down to whether the Mets want a bat off the bench (Tejada) or a glove (Tovar/Quintinilla). With regards to the fifth outfield spot, it will again depend on whether the Mets want offense (Andrew Brown) or defense (Matt Den Dekker). My guess will be that with four above-average defensive outfielders the Mets will go with a bat, but in the infield they will want a glove thus going with Tovar.
#5) Make the Right Decision for the backup Catcher
Since there was no veteran backup brought in to mentor Travis d’Arnaud, it seems that the Mets will have to decide between the clutch hitter and the backup catcher of the future. If a casual fan doesn’t know who those two are, it’s Anthony Recker and Juan Centeno. For the immediate future, it may seem necessary for Recker to play it out one last time; after all he is responsible for Zack Wheeler’s first win. While Centeno may have stolen our hearts by catching Billy Hamilton, he should get another half-season in Las Vegas.
#6) Jenrry Mejia MUST be the 5th Starter
While many will agree that adding competition for Spring Training is a good idea, including myself, the Mets need to realize that not placing Mejia in the rotation is a crime. Between John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mejia will have to prove himself, but in the end a guy in his early 20’s is more valuable than two guys in their early 30’s. That being said, Jacob deGrom, Rafael Montero, or Noah Syndergaard should by no means be on the opening day roster.
#7) Find the Perfect Balance between bullet throwers and Soft Tossers
For the first time in what seems like an eternity, the Mets could have a successful bullpen for more than a month. The locks for the bullpen seem to be Bobby Parnell, Vic Black, Scott Rice, Josh Edgin, and Gonzalez Germen, leaving two spots open, and while it is far from a certainty, Jeurys Famillia seems to occupy a spot leaving one spot for the long reliever. The prediction is that Carlos Torres and Lannan will be fighting for the final spot and in the end the lefty might get the job. There are six minor leaguers that could have a spot during the season; Jack Leathersich, Jeff Walters, Ryan Reid, Erik Goeddel, Cory Mazzoni, and Joel Carreno.
Think about it, are the Mets that far off from playing in the Wild Card game? This lineup could produce some runs:
CF) Chris Young
2B) Daniel Murphy
3B) David Wright
LF) Curtis Granderson
SS) Wilmer Flores
1B) (Ike Davis/Lucas Duda)/Josh Satin
C) Travis d’Arnaud
CF) Juan Lagares
That is filled with a bench that will bail out any injury, provide great defense, or hit a big homer in the late innings:
1B/UT) Josh Satin/(Ike Davis/Lucas Duda)
C) Anthony Recker/ Juan Centeno
OF) Eric Young Jr.
OF) Andrew Brown/ Matt Den Dekker
Middle INF) Ruben Tejada/Wilfredo Tovar
Which could be backed up with a rotation that will hold opponents to three runs or less on many occasions (in alphabetical order to keep things simple- by first and last name!):
That is secured with a valuable bullpen that not only can finish off the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, but have long relievers for the extra innings:
CL) Bobby Parnell
SU) Vic Black
SU) Josh Edgin
LOOGY) Scott Rice
MR) Gonzalez Germen
MR) Jeurys Familia
LR) Carlos Torres/ John Lannan
This team can surprise some people not only during spring training, but throughout the regular season with the arrivals of our top prospects; Syndergaard, Montero, deGrom, and Cesar Puello. Final message to Alderson: No Duda in the outfield after June 16, 2013!!!! (His last game played in the outfield)