The Mets’ one cause for concern – the bench stinks

Mets BenchAt 18-10 and comfortably in first place, the Mets are clearly doing something right. Actually, they’re doing a few things right. The starting rotation has been terrific and the bullpen, despite the injuries and suspension, has been amazing. While the lineup has had its struggles – as evidenced by back-to-back 1-0 losses to the Nationals – it should get a big boost when David Wright comes back off the disabled list in a week or so. That it has to wait for Wright is a problem. This organization has pitching depth in spades, but as this writer correctly pointed out in the pre-season, it does not have the positional depth to withstand injuries to its every day players.

A Collection of Defensive Replacements
That’s essentially what the Mets bench is comprised of – defensive replacements. Anthony Recker can call a solid game, prevent wild pitches, throw out would be runners and look handsome on camera, but he can’t hit. Ruben Tejada provides a defensive upgrade over Wilmer Flores, but he can’t hit. Kirk Nieuwenhuis makes a great late inning defensive replacement for Michael Cuddyer, but he can’t hit. Ditto for John Mayberry from the right side. And Eric Campbell, while his versatility makes him a great last guy on the bench, was badly exposed in 50 at bats filling in for Wright at third base, hitting just .200.

Aside from the more recently promoted Kevin Plawecki and Dilson Herrera, Campbell’s .200 has actually been the best of the bunch. Collectively, they are hitting .185 with just four home runs in 195 at bats.  And they’re not getting on base either. Other than Campbell and Recker (whose six walks are an anomaly based on him batting eighth) everyone in this sad group has an OBP under .300.

Eric Campbell 50 10 1 5 200 323
Kevin Plawecki 43 11 1 6 256 289
Ruben Tejada 24 4 0 3 167 259
John Mayberry 22 3 1 1 136 240
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 22 2 0 1 91 167
Dilson Herrera 16 4 1 3 250 294
Anthony Recker 12 1 0 0 83 389
Danny Muno 6 1 0 0 167 167

How Do We Fix This?
Shifting Daniel Murphy to third and recalling Herrera to play second was a shrewd move. It improves the defense, replaces Campbell’s struggling bat and showcases Murphy as a more appealing third baseman all in well fell swoop. Recalling Plawecki so Recker doesn’t get exposed like Campbell has also paid off. It’s great to see the front office being so nimble in their player moves. Unfortunately, no such internal maneuvering options exist for the outfield.

That Nieuwenheis and Mayberry are hitting a collective .111 is a problem. If any of our starting outfielders gets injured, it will be a disaster.  Given that our corner outfielders are 36 and 34, and our centerfielder is an acrobat, it’s more a matter of when than if an injury occurs. Internally, beyond Campbell, Nieuwenheis and Mayberry, we have two promising outfield prospects in Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, however both are at least a full season away from contributing at the major league level. In case you’re thinking, “we never should have traded away Matt Den Dekker,” think again. He’s languishing in triple AAA Syracuse, batting .187.

If the front office is on its toes, it will solve for this before it becomes a problem so we’re not dealing from a position of desperation. While few trades get made at this point of the season, they do happen. San Francisco was reportedly scouting recent Mets games and speculation was that they were keeping an eye on Murphy as a Pablo Sandoval replacement. The Giants could also use rotation help so perhaps a package of Murphy and Gee to free up salary and create some roster flexibility, but for who? Their outfield consists of Hunter Pence (injured, expensive and probably not available), Nori Aoki, Gregor Blanco and our old friend Angel Pagan.  Doesn’t seem like a good match. And if you’re thinking shortstop, Brandon Crawford, while better defensively, does not present an overall upgrade over Wilmer Flores.

Rather than trying to deal Murphy (too valuable to us this year as a versatile infielder, veteran presence and consistent hitter) and Gee (need his innings and change of pace in the rotation) how about look for what we need, not what we prefer to trade. The Milwaukee Brewers have gotten off to a horrific start and Aramis Ramirez has said he’s retiring after this season. They certainly would be willing to trade a veteran or two for some young talent. Presumably, they want to rebuild around Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy, but how about the speedy leadoff shortstop Jean Segura and the doubles hitting defensive whiz Gerardo Parra? What would it take to land those two? Maybe Flores (as a stop gap shortstop and future third baseman) and Rafael Montero? Sandy Alderson should get on the phone and find out because those two could put this team over the top.

16 comments for “The Mets’ one cause for concern – the bench stinks

  1. Wilponzi
    May 8, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Well, WaaaaitaMinute! Henny Penny, the sky isn’t falling. How many at bats do Nieuwenhuis and Mayberry have, they are cold, but they can hit. Monell is another left handed bat on the bench. Now we can see if Rector can pinch hit. Campball slumps for a week and they panic? 50 at bats two bad games you batting average plummets, get 4 hits in the next to games and it rockets up. No, the bench doesn’t really stink except for one player, you can guess who?

  2. Patrick Albanesius
    May 8, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    I like Jean Segura a lot, and Parra has repeatedly killed the Mets with his stellar defense. I would like another A or AA prospect in the deal, but I think that could work like gangbusters.

  3. BK
    May 8, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Problems like this are relatively simple to fix over the course of a season. Of course, if bench problems are ignored they can also torpedo a promising season. Before making any trades (there’s time for that in June and July) I’d call up Reynolds and/or Tovar and see if they can have an impact. And if we luck into a starting shortstop as a result, all the better.

  4. Name
    May 8, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    No one has done it yet… so i will!

    Small sample size!!!!

    Seriously though, PH is the hardest job in the majors. PHs this year are batting .206/.286/.323. Also not sure why Campbell, Plawecki, or Herrera is on this list as they’ve been regulars when in the majors.

  5. Matt Netter
    May 8, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Jim Breuer, in between cracking me up, pointed out something very smart in a podcast interview with Matt Cerrone. This team looks like the 85 Mets and nees to find its Gary Carter. One feared bat to stick in the middle of the lineup. Maybe thats Tulo or Bautista?

  6. Matt Netter
    May 8, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    One thing that would improve the defense and bench is to leave Herrera at second when Wright comes back and make Murph the super sub Zobrist type.

  7. May 8, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    In no way, shape or form is Jean Segura an upgrade over what we have currently. The guy has had two good months in his career. Since 6/1/13, he’s batting .254 with roughly a .630 OPS.

    That we would willingly trade anything good to get him floors me. He’s Didi Gregorius all over again.

    • Name
      May 8, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      That’s what i said about Dee Gordon, and so far i’m wrong (because he has managed to post an eye-popping .491 BABIP)

  8. May 8, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    When was the last time Alderson traded a young pitcher? I don’t see the Met’s having many options since their depth as at SP in the minors. Better to look at Colorado and see that the Rockies are already headed for another disastrous season. I think they have a SS that could and would solve most of the Mets offensive and middle defensive issues. Reynolds,TDA,Murphy and Comforto or Nimmo. Matt batting eight and receiving 6 walks simply means that opposing teams know that Met’s pitchers as a group are just about automatic outs. No need to risk making a mistake pitch when the pitcher can’t even make contact.

    • Larry Smith
      May 9, 2015 at 8:28 am

      I don’t think the Rockies engage in talks with the Mets about Tulo unless either Syndegaard or Matz is part of the discussion.

      • May 9, 2015 at 8:54 am

        Larry if that’s what it would take I’d do it in a heart beat. These days with young pitchers going down with major arm surgeries it’s truly a question mark as to their success at the big league level.

  9. Matt Netter
    May 8, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    Brian – I see your point about Segura but Inthink he’s better than DiDi. He’s young and under control, plays solid d, steals bases. Though he might not hit the 16 homeruns that Flores is projected to someday maybe hit, i see him as an upgrade. Defense is doubley important at short. I also think Parra would make a great addition as insurance for when Cuddyer gets hurt. He’d be a massive upgrade over Kirk.

    Pete – i really thought the organization would put some focus on the pitchers improving their hitting in spring training. Good news is Thor can hit.

    • Larry Smith
      May 9, 2015 at 8:31 am

      I also think that Segura would be an upgrade at shortstop. His bat would only be a modest improvement over Ruben Tejada’s. But his glove combined with Dilson Herrera at 2B would give the team a huge defensive improvement over the sad sack combo of Wilmer and Murphy.

  10. Metsense
    May 9, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Brandon Crawford would solidify the infield and also would put up average offensive numbers.Segura is not a strong defensive SS.
    It is too early to dump on Kirk and Mayberry. If an injury occurs they could platoon for a short while and Taijeron could come up.
    A LHB veteran could be a help in the future as I see that as the Mets biggest bench weakness.

  11. May 9, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    We’ve seen how many years of Tejada? By this point we know he’s not a starting MI but he’s certainly a better hitter than these stats. Could be a slow start, could be adjusting to a part-time role, but he’s plenty serviceable as a backup SS and 2B.

    Recker has always been known for average-above average defense, decent pop and horrible average. He’s also playing with a bone spur in his elbow that will need to be surgically removed after the season. Not sure if that’s an issue (ala 2014 Wright).

    I’d be interested to see how Monell and Plawecki figure into the mix once d’Arnaud returns. Maybe send Recker under the knife sooner than later?

    Campbell was definitely exposed playing everyday. Wonder if he can make the adjustments to become a serviceable bench piece or if he’s due to languish in the minors.

    Mayberry is known for hitting lefties and doesn’t have a track record of being this bad on righties. No clue what’s happening with Captain Kirk though. Wish he’d pull his head out of his .

  12. Matt Netter
    May 10, 2015 at 10:17 am

    I never understood the signing if Mayberry. For a few mil more we could have had Michael Morse.

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