We’re quickly approaching the reporting date for pitchers and catchers and the start of baseball for 2014. The off-season may not have gone as well for the Mets as some would have liked. It also may have gone better than some would have expected. That’s baseball, for you. Although the off-season is not over and the Mets will continue to make small additions to the roster, the big moves are likely in the rear-view at this point. So where does the team stand as compared to this time last year?
In this final entry we discuss the team’s bench.
The bench is certainly not the most interesting component of the team, but it’s an important part nonetheless. The problem when discussing the Mets’ bench over the last few years is just how much the roster has fluctuated during the season. Collin Cowgill was the starting center fielder to start 2013 until he wasn’t, less than a month into the season. Lucas Duda opened the season as the starting left fielder, until he got hurt and came back as a backup/part-time/something first baseman. Some of you may have already, for the sake of your sanity, banished the fact that Rick Ankiel started 20 games at center field for this team in the middle of the season from your memories. It happened, though, and you must come to terms with it.
That being said, the 2013 Opening Day “bench” comprised Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Anthony Recker, and Justin Turner. Turner, Baxter, and Valdespin are no longer with the team, lending credence to the aforementioned roster volatility.
The Mets haven’t had the luxury of having a consistent starting eight for quite a while. Therefore, Terry Collins has had to mix and match his players to try to get something to stick. As such, players that started the season on the bench (or in the minors) became starters. Those that were starters became bench players (or were sent to the minors). This was particularly true for the outfield, in which eleven (!) different players saw time in at least one of the three positions.
With that in mind, below is a table of Mets players who were at some point a bench player, or a platoon player, or prospects called up for a cup of coffee.
|Eric Young, Jr.||418||.251||.318||.329||85|
|Matt den Dekker||63||.207||.270||.276||56|
It really is a rather large list. To be fair, we can probably remove the likes of Lagares, Young, Duda, d’Arnaud, and Quintanilla because they were mostly starters during their time on the roster. You can probably say the same about Ankiel and Tejada, too. See how this gets murky? Regardless, the only true bench player on that list who provided above average production was Satin with his OPS+ of 123. Turner provided a league average OPS+, which is nice from a utility player. Nobody else with significant playing time was particularly impressive. In fact, most of them were downright terrible.
At this point it’s really too early to even speculate who could be fighting for bench spots on the team. Several of the names in the above table will certainly be in the mix, including Satin, Brown, Quintanilla, Flores, Young, and Recker. Mets fans can only hope that whatever form the bench takes will provide more production in 2014, and having a fairly solid starting lineup could help with that.