The two roads the Mets can go down after the demotion of Travis d’Arnaud

NY logo.557. .557 was the OPS of Carlos Zambrano in his first of three silver slugger seasons. Travis d’Arnaud had an OPS of .544, a number many call “atrocious.” At one point, d’Arnaud was the prized prospect in the Philadelphia and Toronto farm systems- and even ours. He was traded for two Cy Young award winners: Roy Halladay and our beloved R.A. Dickey. The only one that Mets fans care about is the trade involving the latter. This was a blockbuster deal that changed the entire system in terms of catching. At one point, New York had Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas, and Blake Forsythe leading the pack of catchers. Now d’Arnaud is the front-runner with recently drafted Kevin Plawecki close to the majors. d’Arnaud has not exactly lived up to the hype offensively and has completely failed as a hitter thus far in the majors, resulting in a demotion to hitters-haven Las Vegas. The Mets are sort of at a crossroads at this point in time: the major league team is in a free-fall and Kevin Plawecki is shredding in Binghamton. The Mets must now choose between the hyped prospect (d’Arnaud) and their homegrown golden boy (Plawecki). Here are some of the positives and negatives of each candidate.

Travis d’Arnaud:

Even though this kid has been completely putrid on offense, the defense has passed the eye test- as Mets have endured an endless amount of pass balls behind Thole. That being said, he has committed three errors. In addition to allowing far fewer pass balls, he also has one of the best framing abilities in the league. But once again that comes at a price, because he has become too focused on framing and has enabled 79% of base stealers to be successful.

His defense may be an above-average asset but his offense has been absolutely atrocious. His slugging percentage (.273) is absolutely unacceptable, especially from someone who had a career minor league percentage of .476. However, he did have a reasonable eye at the plate, with only 25 strikeouts in 145 PA and 16 walks in the same span. This shows that he does have something in the tank and can work a decent walk.

The main reason for his ability to stay on this roster has been his overall talent and hype. In the minor leagues he was able to hit at least 20 doubles from 2009 to 2012. With a .286 average and a .824 OPS, clearly the talent is present and it may be a matter of extra seasoning in the minor leagues to get him going. After all, he suffered a severe ankle injury last season, but was back in the majors after only 19 AAA games. If all goes well, he could be back by the All-Star break as a new player. Unfortunately, the possibility of him never figuring anything out and clogging AAA is very strong.

Kevin Plawecki:
So far, the biggest knock on Plawecki has been his lack of above-average defensive abilities. While he may never win a gold glove, Plawecki has actually been a pretty good catcher. With a career .992 fielding percentage, he matches up pretty well. Yadier Molina had a .989 fielding percentage in the minors and a .994 in the majors. I’m not trying to say he will blossom into a force behind the plate, but he can blossom into at least average. He also has caught 32% of base stealers at the age of 23 while d’Arnaud caught 30%. Many Mets fans including myself have not seen Plawecki catch in person, but according to the numbers he is pretty good.

Now on to everyone’s favorite part, the offense and Plawecki has impressed. After getting off to an average start in 2012 in Brooklyn with a .729 OPS, he proceeded to break out and post a .305/.390/.448 slash line. This included an incredible 38 doubles and an impeccable 42/53 BB/SO ratio in today’s game. One thing that Plawecki has not done is the lack of homerun power. This has since been taken care of, already this season he has six homeruns. That projected over a 150 game season is about 19-20 homers. The Mets could be seeing a .290/.380/.450 hitter blossoming.

Catcher is a premium position and it is becoming more and more risky to play- making it harder and harder to find a great player for the position. Brian Mccann might even be the last quality catcher to hit the open market- and the only reason the Braves allowed this was because of Christian Bethancourt and Evan Gattis. The Mets had better find their man soon because it is becoming harder and harder to locate one instead of striking out.

6 comments for “The two roads the Mets can go down after the demotion of Travis d’Arnaud

  1. blastingzone
    June 11, 2014 at 1:20 am

    I don’t like sending down Travis D to AAA it will block Kevin Plawecki’s chance to be promoted in the near future but Plawecki deserves to be at AAA now! Its to
    bad the mets couldn’t send Travis D to AA and promote Plawecki to AAA !!

  2. Metsense
    June 11, 2014 at 9:12 am

    When the Mets sent down Ike Davis he was back in 21 games. I think the front office is expecting and hoping for the same turn around.
    It is unfortunate that Plawecki is temporarily stalled but an extra month at AA won’t hurt him. I have seem him play and he is a dominant offensive force. I think in the end, he will have more impact than TdA.
    TdA has too strong a pedigree to think he will not hit in AAA. I feel confident he will put it back together before August 1st so both he and Plawecki can moved up a position.
    The problem only arises if TdA does not hit at AAA. If that is the case, then I would still move up Plawecki to AAA August 1st and let him play. Survival of the fittest at that point.
    A good point in this article is that catching is a premium position and hopefully the Mets will have two young catchers in the future.

    • Julian
      June 11, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Travis d’Arnaud. I think that he has the will power to eventually turn it around. He might just do that in 20-30 days. However, if he doesn’t then both should be called up by September 1st.

    • Chris F
      June 11, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      I may be a minority here, but I am happy to let Plawecki continue to earn his way up the ladder from Bingo for some time. I do not believe a trip to AAA by d’Arnaud is blocking his eventual call up. Right now KP only has 200 PAs, and while AA looks below him for the moment, I’d be pleased to see that continue through July. that gives TdA ample time to address things in LV. If he’s still scuffling, then it’s tough luck. Plawecki should not be blocked. I can see KP finishing in Vegas as their starting backstop, getting a real look at spring training, and making the call up by ’15 asg if TdA remains a bust. No need to hurry him.

  3. DDavis
    June 11, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I agree, d’Arnaud should hit eventually, and a spot of time away from the glare may be the best thing for him.

    If it transpires that he doesn’t turn it around, my nominee for the reason why will be the developmental time Travis missed in 2012 and 2013. Even the best players need to learn and adjust as they scale a minor league system; missed time frequently leads to problems going uncorrected, as anyone who followed the career of Jay Payton can attest.

    Actually Payton is one of the happier examples one could cite; at least he got to have a career. But Jay cashed in on perhaps 50% of his original promise; the remainder was lost to a series of injuries.

  4. Jerry Grote
    June 12, 2014 at 5:27 am

    “t one point, New York had Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas, and Blake Forsythe leading the pack of catchers. Now d’Arnaud is the front-runner with recently drafted Kevin Plawecki close to the majors. ”

    Wanna bet the first name in that series of seven names winds up being having the most valuable career of all of them?

    One of the most singular determinants of a successful, long term career is reaching the Major Leagues before the age of 23 and having success at that time.

    TDA is already 25 and it appears as if his major league pedigree won’t be established before his age 26 season. Unless Plawecki announces his arrival in 2015 with a ROY type productivity, he likewise will be in his age 25 season by time he becomes a ML catcher.

    Thole was a ML catcher, with a 720 OPS at age 23 in almost 300 PA. He is enjoying another good year, and I think there’s value in noticing his BR “comps” were Bruce Benedict and some guy named Bob Boone the last two years.

    This is the major reason why I’m willing to give rope to players like Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores. Its why Ike Davis will have a longer, much, much more productive career than Lucas Duda.

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