Will John Mayberry Jr. signing hurt Eric Campbell, too?

Eric CampbellBarring any Spring Training trade (ha!) or injury, the Mets’ 2015 Opening Day roster is pretty much set. There’s the usual battles for roster spots 23-25 but hopefully those are among players who have already seen time in the majors last year with the Mets. We all hope that the days of an NRI like Blaine Boyer coming to camp and winning a job with 10 good innings of Grapefruit League results are over.

The biggest battle may be for the team’s fifth outfielder spot, with the likely combatants being Matt den Dekker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Cesar Puello. The signing of John Mayberry Jr. likely killed any chance of Puello making the club out of Spring Training, as the team no longer is desperate for a righty bat off the bench. Plus, it doesn’t seem like the organization is exactly enamored with Puello’s play, either. Instead, the biggest question with Puello seems to be if he’ll clear waivers or not.

Which brings us to den Dekker and Nieuwenhuis. The former has a strong defensive reputation and last year overhauled his approach to become an ideal leadoff hitter. The latter also has a solid defensive reputation and last year turned in an impressive .223 ISO. Both have their backers and with Nieuwennhis out of options, it seems an easy call of which one to pick.

But these are the Mets – the team that went long stretches the past few years without a backup shortstop to carry an extra outfielder. Why should the default assumption be that this team, with an excess of outfielders, will look to feature a traditional bench for the start of the season?

It should surprise none of us if the Mets open the year with six outfielders and five infielders and this year it makes sense on both sides of the equation. While it was insane to break camp with no backup shortstop in 2014, especially when news leaked later how management was unhappy with Ruben Tejada, there’s no such problem with going an infielder short in 2015.

First off, the one reserve would be Tejada, who can handle both middle infield spots. The plan appears to be having OF Michael Cuddyer serve as the team’s backup 1B, moving to the position when a tough lefty is on the hill for the opposing team. Daniel Murphy also has plenty of experience at 1B. Both Wilmer Flores and Tejada can play second and Flores and Murphy both have MLB experience at 3B. Shoot, even Cuddyer has stood at the position a few times in the majors.

If the Mets went with a traditional bench, Eric Campbell would be the backup corner infielder. Campbell had virtually no hype this time last year but came on to produce a solid season, with a .680 OPS while playing all over the field. But after a hot start, Campbell was not very impressive. After the All-Star break, he posted a .500 OPS with a 26.8 K% in 97 PA. And while Campbell was a good PH last year, Mayberry was better, with a 1.371 OPS as a PH, including 4 HR.

One other factor to consider is that like den Dekker, Campbell still has multiple options remaining.

If the Mets go with six outfielders, they have Mayberry to be the righty bat/primary PH, den Dekker as the late-inning defensive guy and Nieuwenhuis to give a HR threat from the left side of the plate. It’s possible that the Mayberry signing signals the end of not only Puello’s chances of making the roster, but Campbell’s, too.

The only edge Campbell has is his ability to play some in the infield. But the versatility of four of the five infielders already on the Mets reduces the value of this skill. Campbell’s best chance of making the roster may be a desire of the Mets to see den Dekker get regular playing time. But at age 27, with nearly 2,000 minor league PA already under his belt, do the Mets see den Dekker as someone who still would benefit from this additional seasoning?

It may be that the final bench spot comes down to who has the better Spring between Campbell and den Dekker.

11 comments for “Will John Mayberry Jr. signing hurt Eric Campbell, too?

  1. norme
    January 29, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I know I’m beating a dead horse but, just focusing on the outfield, I still believe that the Mets would have been better served with Kirk, Lagares and MdD as the starters. Great defense and speed. Use Mayberry and Puello against tough lefthanders. Grandy and Cuddyer are eating too much of the limited payroll for their expected production. If I’m wrong about Kirk and MdD then at least we know and can proceed from there. With Grandy and Cuddy there is no tomorrow.
    The money saved could have been put to use elsewhere—–maybe an even bigger scoreboard.

    • January 29, 2015 at 11:05 am

      I like both Kirk and MDD.

      But the idea of having both of those guys as starting OFers in 2014 would have been crazy. Any plan for 2015 has to include Granny as a starter – he’s here, for better or worse. I was hoping that MDD would have been the other starting OF but they went in another direction. Even though I don’t agree with it, at least I can understand the rationale.

      Ultimately, while I like Nieuwenhuis, he’s not a starting caliber OFer. I think his results from last year are not repeatable over an entire season. His ability to play all three OF positions makes him a valuable reserve.

    • TexasGusCC
      January 30, 2015 at 9:15 am

      Norm, I agree with Brian 100% and please let me add one more thing: Cuddyer is the only right handed bat in this conversation, so he matches the lineup’s need better. I actually believe that both Granderson and Cuddyer will be pretty good players this year, but not great. Grandy hit .268 as a #5 or #6 guy with some power. Cuddyer may do the same, so it’s a redudency we didn’t need. But, these people are stuck on right-left, right-left, so….

      How many good teams just use their best players and don’t rely on stats and handedness, but the Mets have too many people making decisions and we need to satisfy all of them.

  2. Joe Vasile
    January 29, 2015 at 11:11 am

    When I look at “six outfielders” I cringe if it isn’t September. The only way that a roster construction like that makes sense is if you have a Joe McEwing-type super-utility guy on the team that can play all 8 positions, which the Mets don’t have. Having some versatility helps in terms of Mayberry and Cuddyer being able to play first and Flores and Tejada to move around a little bit, but cripes, I’d rather have MdD be in Triple-A than be the 25th man off the bench.

  3. Scott Ferguson
    January 29, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    MDD will not make this team out of ST. Nieuwenhuis offers lefty pop off the bench, can play all 3 OF positions and is out of options. MDD has options, so he’ll be at Triple-A. Hopefully Puello makes it through waivers, but I bet he won’t.

    Campbell will probably make the team, unless they go with someone like Tovar. Campbell has a solid approach and can play all over the field, so he complements the bench role best.

  4. Name
    January 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Assuming all the SP are healthy, i don’t think starting the year with an extra position player is possible.

    Gee, Niese, Colon can’t be optioned without losing them.
    Wheeler and deGrom are also unlikely to get the slight either.

    The only person who it makes sense to option down to push back their season debut is Matt Harvey, but are they willing to slight him? We all know his personality, and that would cause him to miss out on the Opening Day festivities.

    The only way to start out with an extra bench player is if one of them needs to push back their debut and can be DLed to start (or make Harvey have “shoulder soreness” so that can be the one thats DLed)

    • JC
      January 29, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      they have said a few times Matt may not start till the home opener so I expect he will spend the first week in FL rather then DC and Baltimore.

      Because of that I think the mets may take 6 OF north but only till the home opener and then send down DenDekker. I think Campbell is safe assuming he stays healthy.

      • Name
        January 29, 2015 at 9:42 pm

        While he may not start until the home opener, do you really think he’s going to be happy if he’s optioned to start the season and having to miss Opening day festivities? Do you remember all the fuss he created last year when he wanted to rehab in NY while the team was there?

  5. Chris F
    January 29, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    I guess my feeling is that if any of the principals mentioned in this article have any real story to tell on the 2015 Mets, you can flush 85 wins right down the drain.

  6. Metsense
    January 29, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    The versatility of the infielders does allow the Mets to go with six outfielders. It is for that reason Campbell should be part of the competition. Puello, Campbell, MDD and Kirk are in the mix for the final two roster spots. Let the two best get the roster spots and not worry about the options. If Puello and Kirk can’t beat out MDD and Campbell then really, what would you lose if they were lost on waivers. If Puello and/or Kirk made the team then eventually sometime during the season there would be some roster maneuvering, as that usually is the case, and they would be exposed anyway. Let the best men win. My early favorites are Kirk and MDD.

  7. Patrick Albanesius
    January 31, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    If MDD is really the leadoff hitter we think he’s becoming, then he needs to start, but that is not going to happen. The market for Gee looks to be drying up, so the Mets should package Gee and MDD together and try and get a couple young prospects in return. Lots of teams need someone at the top of the lineup with a good glove and an extra arm at the back of the rotation/long man in the bullpen. Maybe teams like the Rays, Athletics or Rangers might be interested.

    Also, this is neat. https://public.tableausoftware.com/profile/scott.lindholm#!/vizhome/fWARbyPosition/Team

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