A crowded Mets infield presents options

WrightThe Mets suited up 12 different infielders (not counting catchers) in 2016. The opening day lineup featured  an infield of Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, and David Wright. Wilmer Flores was the primary backup. Injuries beset all four starters and the Mets filled in with replacements from inside (Ty Kelly, Matt Reynolds, TJ Rivera, Gavin Cecchini) and outside (Jose Reyes, James Loney) the organization. Typically a team carries six infielders, but looking ahead to a season where it’s hard to rely on Wright to stay healthy, it might be wise to assume he’ll wind up on the DL and carry seven infielders – either by stashing an extra infielder in AAA or carrying a versatile player who could also serve as a fifth outfielder, like Johnson or Kelly.

Loney and Walker are not likely to be back and Johnson is a question mark. Here are four infield scenarios for the 2017 Mets:

A) Duda at first, Rivera at second, Cabrera at short, and Wright at third with Flores and Reyes backing up. In this scenario and others, Kelly, Cecchini, and Reynolds start the season in AAA and are ready to step in if needed.

B) Duda/Flores platoon at first, Rivera/Johnson platoon at second, Cabrera at short, Wright at third with Reyes the supersub.

C) Wright/Duda platoon at first, Rivera/Johnson at second, Cabrera at short and either Reyes or Flores at third, with the other serving as the supersub.

D) Duda gets traded. Wright/Loney platoon at first, Rivera/Johnson at second, Cabrera at short and either Reyes or Flores at third, with the other serving as the supersub.

Any of these options will come with questions. If Reyes comes off the bench then who bats leadoff when he’s not playing? If Wright is healthy, where does he bat in the lineup? Can he transition to first base the way Ryan Zimmerman has? Does Wilmer Flores deserve a chance to start at one position and play every day?

Which option do you think makes the most sense?


17 comments for “A crowded Mets infield presents options

  1. October 21, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Duda-Walker-Cabrera-Wright. Jose and Wilmer back them up. TJR to Vegas. Johnson gone.

    • Metsense
      October 21, 2016 at 7:32 pm

      Exactly Dan. This lineup would give the Mets their best chance to take back their division crown. Wright and Flores should always be in there is LHP. Reyes can spell Wright and get an occasional start for Cabrera. Flores can get his at bats for Walker and Duda.
      If Walker ends up elsewhere then Collins will probably slide Reyes in as the starting second baseman because that is how Terry operates. Kelly Johnson and his $2M salary should then be signed to insure a proven veteran bench presence who has excelled the past two seasons in New York while playing that role. TJ Rivera and Gavin Cecchini will get opportunities as the season wears on.
      Yes, the crowded Met infield does present options but more importantly it presents depth.

  2. Jerryk
    October 21, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Reyes is a starter and the lead off hitter. No way he is. Backup unless he suddenly stops hitting.

  3. October 21, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    My take is that the Mets are not looking for reasons to make Gavin Cecchini or Wilmer Flores full-time starters. TJ Rivera? Maybe. But at this point I expect them to make a strong push to retain Walker.

  4. Eraff
    October 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    The team needs to resolve itself without counting Wright…without counting on Wright.

    If he returns at 80% of his peak, he’s a nice ballplayer who will make his own space and provide the team with further opportunities. That needs to be the beginning and end to any plan for him.

  5. October 21, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    I say trade dude as I mention last year, and play Murphy there….but nasa, you let him walk away…sorry but wright should not be mention as part of the equation, yes he’s getting better, but he needs to be in playing condition day in day out, pray to get between 50 to 100 games out of him…you count on your core players of last year,,,,Keeping Johnson is a no brainer….Walker 1st base and 2nd base, etc…thats a start for you guys….and yes amuse to get the Closer from the Dodgers ….THank u

    • MattyMets
      October 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      If the writers of Mets360 had Sandy Alderson’s ear, we’d have pleaded with him not to trade Dilson Herrera for Jay Bruce.

  6. kwmets
    October 21, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    No way Reyes doesn’t start. Duh. He was clearly needed by this offense last year and it will be the same this year. We also have no leadoff hitter without him. He’s pivotal. Reyes will be a super utility guy, could be infield and outfield. Reyes will start for the mets in 2017.
    Also, Kelly Johnson is not a starter. Seriously. Not even close. I’ll take TJ Rivera every day over KJ, although KJ off the bench is fantastic! Each guy has his role, and non starters need to stay that way.
    Wright is the wild card here, time will tell how that plays out.

    Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

  7. TexasGusCC
    October 22, 2016 at 1:39 am

    A long answer, so my apologies in advance. Hopefully, it’s entertaining.

    Let’s start with really the most polarizing player on the Roster. Everyone is hoping he can be what he was, but it’s hard to believe that a player that needs three hours of stretching before a game, is outright unavailable for day games after night games, and cannot reach first base from third can be considered a third baseman. If, if, if, he is healthy enough to play close to a half season, his primary position must be first base. His -4.4 average defensive UZR rating the last two years paints an ugly picture. Further, notable players like Peyton Manning and Bobby Parnell were shells of themselves when they came back from neck surgery and that isn’t even Wright’s biggest problem!

    On offense, the first stat that jumps at you as a misprint is his embarrassing low .226 BA. Another troubling stat was his 34% strikeout rate. Watching a nationally broadcast game last year, Aaron Boone said that he believes Wright has become a “guess hitter”, that is looking for fastballs on fastball counts, and Boone also noted how frequently Wright went the other way as a sign of a slower bat. This is evidenced by a career high 37% oppo rate, when Wright usually sat in the high 20’s. However, the new uppercut swing yielded a soft contact rate of 8%, way lower than his average, and thus a hard contact rate of 48%, to go with a very high 49% fly ball rate when Wright has never been in the 40’s, ever! Conversely, the 23% ground ball rate was way lower than his normal high 30’s. Finally his O-Swing was 16.5% for normally in the mid-20’s, showing he will not chase and waste whatever swings he has in him, as the torque from swinging so hard must have a painful response on his bad back.

    For the maximum results, I propose a super platoon of Duda and Wright at first base. That should give Wright about 10 starts a month, keeping Duda fresh and Wright involved.

    At second base, I don’t know if Walker will come back, but really hope so. I’m not sold on Rivera as a full-timer because he reminds me too much of Josh Satin. His .778 AVG on line drives cannot continue (to compare, some guy named Murphy hit .622 on line drives) but hopefully his .087 AVG on fly balls can increase. Just a player that will probably single you to death in the majors, and that’s his upside, as it is his MO throughout the minors (unless he gets a coaching session with Marlon Byrd). Wilmer Flores has shown he belongs, and Cecchini should get a chance at some point (probably the second half after the Flores/Rivera tryout has shaken out).

    Reyes and Cabrera deserve their positions; they’ve earned them.

    • MattyMets
      October 22, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      TexasGus, bravo on a great contribution. Unfortunately there’s a lot more that will go into decisions about Wright than actual performance – contract, leadership,loyalty, hope, etc.

      • TexasGusCC
        October 22, 2016 at 3:13 pm

        Thank you Matt. I was thinking last night how I’ve learned to bring info to the table by the other contributors of this site, and not just always give a hollow opinion.

        Most of us truly wish Wright the best and he is one of our guys, but he can still be welcomed and used correctly. It would be sad for a great warrior and player to feel unwanted. Better to be a productive mentor than an albatross trying to play everyday.

        • MattyMets
          October 23, 2016 at 9:07 pm

          TexasGus – What would be the ideal scenario for Wright in 2017? I mean, short of him pulling a Michael Cuddyer?

  8. Eraff
    October 22, 2016 at 2:21 am

    Gus…it’s a somewhat cruel but on-point over-analysis. He cannot play anything close to a full schedule…. He is not the weapon he once was. To make things worse, he is basically unuseable on non-start days…. he cannot pinch hit because he needs to prep to play. The prep itself is a day’s work—if he preps, he may as well play. That shortens your bench for many games….when he doesn’t start, he’s basically on IR for the game.

    I believe he’ll try, and I think he should. I don’t think it works, and I wish it would/could. I cannot suggest that that he stop trying, but I believe he will retire.

  9. Nym6986
    October 22, 2016 at 6:02 am

    Walker was great when on the field and has consistently put up good numbers throughout the years despite battling back injuries. He is an above average fielder. He should be resigned. No telling if TJ continues his strong showing as a 28 year old rookie. TJ does make the team out of SP.
    Mets need Reyes at the top of the order or need to trade for a lead off hitter with speed to take that spot. He is their only real running threat and they otherwise have trouble manufacturing runs like so many other teams can.
    D Wright may be a option at first base which would eliminate his declining throwing arm but his power numbers are too low.
    Even with all the pitching injuries they ended up where they did because they hit so many home runs. When they failed to hit them they often lost.
    If the Mets do not keep Yo then they might just fall to third in the division. Extend him 2 more years for a total of $100 million and at least get that off the table. You have to believe that Bruce will return to his stronger form that he showed in the end otherwise they can trade him at next year’s deadline.

    All in all we should be optimistic about our 2017 chances. If our surgically repaired pitchers come back to form with sub 3.0 eras added to the performances of Lugo and Gsellman we might jump out to a big lead.

  10. October 22, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Time to stop dreaming of our captain, DWright as a full time player.
    Also, time to see what a full season of Wilmer Flores could do. If he can get 400 AB’s, I think we will see something like .270 BA 20HRs 75 RBI. Solid.
    Let him play 3B full time. Reyes must be the leadoff guy, there is no one else.
    Let him start at 2B. Cabrera is Mets leader and SS. Duda and Wright share 1B.
    TJ Rivera and Kelly Clutch Johnson the INF subs. Now, about that crowded OF….

    • Chris F
      October 22, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Flores has the potential to be the worst 3B in baseball, and that is fully achievable. If we have to suffer watching his defense, then put him on the right side, like a platoon with Duda at 1B. He has no business left of the second base bag. Too slow, too unsure, too weak.

      • MattyMets
        October 23, 2016 at 9:13 pm

        Chris F – While I agree that Flores is no Brooks Robinson, is anyone on this team really capable at the hot corner? If Wright’s healthy, his arm looks shot. Reyes, despite all the praise, didn’t impress me. He’s still got a great arm, but his lack of range and instincts hurt him. I was an advocate of moving Walker over to third and giving Dilson Hererra a shot at second before the ill-conceived trade for Bruce. Still a possibility I suppose if we give second to any of or a combo of Reyes/Flores/Rivera/Johnson.

        I sadly and reluctantly agree with most of you here though. Even if Wright comes into spring training healthy, which is a huge if, he no longer seems suited to every day play, especially at third. I see him as a part-time first baseman/DH/pinch hitter when he’s not on the DL. I’d love nothing more for him to prove me wrong.

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