Josh Satin and Eric Young Jr., the glue guys

Josh SatinEvery good team needs the glue guys, also known as those players on the roster that are flexible about playing time and position. There are several reasons that make this a necessary part of any successful team. The first is that Baseball is a notoriously long season. Players can’t play every day and get injured. Without teammates that can fill in at various places on the diamond or in the lineup, a team is much more likely to run into long term issues as they now have to dig into the minor leagues to bring up players that might not be ready yet or rely on players on an everyday basis that are marginal at best. These types of players also provide a manager with roster and lineup flexibility, allowing the manager to not only give his main players rest, but also take advantage of matchups’ in both early and late game situations.

Take a look at the two Mets championship teams in 1969 and 1986. Not only did these two teams use a lot of platoons, but they also had several players that played as many as three or more positions at one time or another during the season.

The 1969 Mets team is famous for its various platoons. Four players started 10 or more games at third base (Kevin Collins with 11, Ed Charles with 45, Bobby Pfeil with 40 and Wayne Garrett with 63) and second base (Ken Boswell with 91, Garrett with 34, Al Weis with 27 and Pfeil with 10). Of the 486 starts possible in the 1969 outfield, Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee made 260 of them, while four others made at least 10 starts (Amos Otis with 17, Rod Gaspar with 44, Art Shamsky with 76 and Ron Swoboda with 86). The glue guys on this team were multitudinous. Shamsky started games in rightfield, leftfield and at first base. Garrett was a key player in both the second base and third base platoons and filled in at short stop nine times, playing 24 total innings at the position. Weis played in 52 games at shortstop and 43 games at second base, logging a total of 654 innings at those two positions, the equivalent of nearly 72.7 games, nearly half a season’s worth of time. Without this group of guys helping to fill in time around the Mets key players in the field and on offense, the stellar pitching staff that the Mets had built would have had a much more difficult time carrying them to a World Series championship.

The 1986 team also used platoons to help surround the teams key players and to take advantage of matchup’s. Second base was a fairly strict platoon between Wally Backman (92 starts) and Tim Teufel (70 starts). Left field saw four players start at least 25 games (George Foster with 62, Mookie Wilson with 27, Danny Heep with 39 and Kevin Mitchell with 26). Center field was a platoon made up of Lenny Dykstra (98 starts) and Wilson (53 starts) with Mitchell and September call up Stanley Jefferson filling in occasionally. This team, though, had two key players that were the glue amongst the platoons and stars. Those two players were Mitchell and Howard Johnson. Mitchell started games at six different positions in 1986 (one at first base, three at third base, 20 at shortstop, 26 in left field, six in center field and 21 in right field). Johnson started 29 games at third base, 22 games at shortstop and one game in left field. Both provided strong bats off of the bench and would develop into all star players in their own rights in later years. The bench of the 1986 Mets was ultra talented and extremely flexible, giving manager Davey Johnson all kinds of combinations that he could put together to support his excellent pitching staff and his everyday offensive players in Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and Ray Knight.

In both championship teams, the use of platoons and flexibility were key components in assisting these teams to get to the next level. That’s where Eric Young Jr. and Josh Satin come in for this team. Satin could be the quintessential glue guy. Last season Satin primarily played first base and third base for the Mets, but he has logged a multitude of minor league games at second base in his career and is working to learn how to play the outfield. Young can play all three outfield positions and was brought up through the minors playing his Dads old position of second base. Between the two of them, they could cover every offensive position other than catcher and shortstop.

They both also have special abilities. Satin kills left handed pitching and is extremely patient at the plate. Satin is also a line drive hitter, so he’s the perfect bench component to have fill in for one of the left handed bats in the Mets lineup when that southpaw comes out of the pen late in a game. He also can be used in double switch situations due to his flexibility in positions. Young doesn’t bring the same type of bat as Satin, but his speed is elite, allowing him to be used in both pinch hit and pinch run situations late in games. He also is a great double switch candidate due to flexibility. If the Mets find between 200 and 300 plate appearances for each player, their flaws won’t be exposed and the club will be able to take advantage of their abilities, giving Terry Collins extra weapons to surround his key offensive players with.

Both these players also mitigate potential issues on the club. Satin makes having Lucas Duda or Ike Davis on the team palatable as he can keep the first base position productive against left handed pitching, which, to this date, Duda and Davis have not shown the capacity to do. Young helps cover the gaps that could be created if Chris Young is still ineffective, Juan Lagares doesn’t make the offensive adjustments we all hope he does to keep his glove in the outfield and Curtis Granderson continues to show horrendous strike out rates. He also helps the club in the leadoff spot, where, if not forced to play every day, Young won’t be overexposed like he was in 2013.

The bottom line is that these guys aren’t the players a team is built around. A smart team finds these types of players to be the guys that are placed around those key players. On the 1969 Mets, Agee, Jones, Donn Clendenon , Bud Harrelson and Jerry Grote were the key everyday players that were surrounded by glue guys when the Mets made their run down the stretch of the season, straight to a championship. In 1986 it was Carter, Hernandez, Knight and Strawberry that were the core of the lineup around which platoons and glue guys were put into place. In 2014, the expectation is that those key core guys will be David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud. But four players don’t make a team. Let’s hope that Satin and Young can be the glue that holds the core players and the various other platoon and semi-regular players together towards a competitive season.

14 comments for “Josh Satin and Eric Young Jr., the glue guys

  1. Jim OMalley
    February 6, 2014 at 7:15 am

    EY Jr is such an interesting case. He single-handedly solved one of the Mets biggest flaws between the 12 and the 13 seasons. The team has to find a way to routinely utilize his elite speed.

  2. Robby
    February 6, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Not to sound negative but is it me or do all these guys kinda stink but since its all the Mets have we are trying to believe otherwise.

    • NormE
      February 6, 2014 at 10:48 am

      With some exceptions, such as Kevin Mitchell and Ho Jo, the “glue guys” are best use as reserves rather than regulars. Does that mean that they “kinda stink?” Not necessarily. It’s just that their skills are best used by managers who are creative and perceptive—such as Gil Hodges and Davey Johnson were.
      You could make a case for some of the Mets regulars being more valuable as “glue guys” than as regulars, alas.

  3. Patrick Albanesius
    February 6, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Awesome article. I see Robby and NormE’s point. I don’t think you can plan on glue guys, but rather they step up when the call comes. The same group might be fantastic one year, and not so much the next. You also need the right manager as NormE mentioned, and based on the reactions to Collins, I’m guessing most don’t view him as the kind of manager that will get that kind of job done.

  4. eraff
    February 6, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    On Good Teams, the glue guys/Bench Players are often 1st level guys who are on the Bench because the starters are so good….sometimes, they’re even younger players(Boegards on the Sox Last Season). “Lesser Teams often have AAAA guys in those slots with their young guys at AA/AAA—no sense placing a young guy on a suspect roster unless he’s starting.

  5. Metfan62
    February 18, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Scott left out one of the Keys that turned that 69 Met team…. the acquisition of Donn Clondenon from the Montreal Expos was a trade deadline deal. He was the right hand 1B, with Ed Kranepool playing the lefty as a tandem. It was also the trade that helped propel them on that phenomenal run. People often forget that. I felt a compelling need to correct that error in the article.
    Now on to the Glue Guys. Chris Young is just that but for to high a cost ( didn’t like that signing, sorry SA, that was under the dumpster diving ). He has yet to figure out RHP. So consider him a for resting Ganderson against LHP upon occasion. He has yet to ever hit over .260 in his best year. Juan L. has equal stats against RHP and LHP.
    People need to also consider Zach Lutz here as well since he is a player with nearly identical stats in minors but has more power. in minors he has played 1B, 3B, along with corner OF positions, as well as a little 2B( make that very little ). Every team needs players like this on their team, unless you play fantasy baseball, like Yankee fans do.
    Every player has a weakness of some kind, the key is a bench that accepts their role. A manager that knows how to play to every players strength, by putting them in a position to succeed. Every player must know their role as well. That is the managers job. TC is no Gil Hodges ( Gil was the persona of the 69 Mets), nor Davey Johnson.
    What this team still lacks is that toughness Ray Knight brought out on the field, and leadership of Kieth Hernandez in 86. Toughness and leadership of Buddy Harrelson ( still remember the fight between him an Pete Rose in 73). As much as I hate to say it, but I must give credit where due, the constant factor of Derek Jeter has had much to do with the Yankee success.

  6. Metfan62
    February 18, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Oh yes one last thing those teams of the past that we hold so dear in our memories. They prove that team chemistry has a lot to do with winning pennants and titles. You look at that 69 team and there was no way they should have won it all.

    • February 18, 2014 at 8:32 am

      So where was that team chemistry in 1968 and 1970?

      You want to find a little-discussed reason for the Mets winning 100 games in ’69, look no further than their record in one-run games. They were 41-23. Compare that to 1970, when they were 24-27 in one-run games.

      • Metfan62
        February 18, 2014 at 1:54 pm

        I can’t argue the facts. Team chemistry changes from year to year. Player stats don’t reflect it all. In 69 Cleon Jones had a career year, the trade for Clondenon was the catalyst. In 70 the players failed in situations they had success in, many reverted to just plain what they were, average to below average. The Poet(Ed Charles) was gone,Joe Foy came in to play 3rd (In one of our infamous trades). Ed Charles was an aging player who was a defensive wiz at 3rd. Statistically the 69 Mets should never have won if you look at individual stats with the bat. It was defensively and pitching wise well above average. They put the ball in play, some even walked more than they struck out. Team chemistry is an intangible that is impossible to measure. Small factors are part of it, that missed opportunity where you ground out and don’t get the sac fly, missed play in the field that resulted in a hit, by an inch. Let’s face the fact “The Amazing Mets” of 69 won because the baseball god played a cruel joke on Cub fans, let all breaks go in their favor, and every ball was hit where a play could be made that was never seems to be an inch to far to the left or right. Chemistry is confidence in a teams ability to win, where each individual knows what to do in situational baseball and executing in that situation.
        There you have it…… Chemistry is many small things, but breaks down when there is a failure to execute on a consistent basis in fundamental baseball. That failure results in losses in the close games.

        • February 18, 2014 at 3:19 pm

          Shoot, “team chemistry” is a loaded term to begin with and your definition brings it to unheard of levels. A groundout instead of a SF is team chemistry? Wow, just wow.

          • Metfan62
            February 18, 2014 at 11:23 pm

            Team chemistry is the player willing to do the job, not worrying about about stats. Bottom line, they are willing to move the runner forward, not always going for the homer, when behind in the count. They are things that don’t show up in the world of fantasy baseball. It doesn’t reflect in the box score, but in the score card. The common terminology now is called small ball.

          • Metfan62
            February 19, 2014 at 12:49 am

            Oh yes forgot to add that clubhouse chemistry is where it starts. I would love to debate this further even since I enjoy a good debate

            • Metsense
              February 19, 2014 at 7:52 am

              What you term chemistry I term execution.
              Small ball lost it’s appeal with the advent of free agency. Individual statistics put money in the player’s pocket. Steroids also added to the demise of small ball.
              Sabermetrics is a tool that when properly utilized will gain an advantage for a team. It isn’t just for Fantasy Baseball.
              Although many, like myself question a Flores at shortstop, sabermetrics shows a trend that ground ball outs are happening less and the ones that do occur are increasing at the corner infield positions. That is why an Alderson will try a Flores at shortstop.
              I have also been a fan since 62 but the game has changed, and maybe not for the better.

              • Metfan62
                February 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm

                You got my point. and I fully agree with you, and what you said. Execution, each player knowing their role, playing fundamentally strong baseball is a basis for team chemistry. Yes Sabermetrics has it’s place, but has it made room for the guy who advances the runner, hits behind the runner with a man on first. Everything has become so statistically driven. I don’t see that being measured and valued in the equation near enough.

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