An alternate Opening Day roster for the 2017 Mets

Blend logoBefore Spring Training started, the Mets announced their starting right fielder, taking away one of the few storylines available in Grapefruit League play. By bringing back six guys who were either free agents or had an option, settling or offering arbitration to everyone and not bringing in a new catcher or third baseman, the Mets were opting to play a pat hand. There was little wrong with that decision; it just made for a somewhat boring Spring.

Here’s what the Mets had to do in camp:
Pick the fifth starter, although it feels like that was a done deal already, too
Decide on the last two bullpen spots
Choose who was going to be the fifth outfielder, although that was probably previously picked

The reality is that this is what you want from your team. If your squad goes to Spring Training with multiple starting spots up for grabs, it clearly means you won’t be picked as a playoff club, much less a World Series favorite. But after watching the Mets regulars get shut out by the Nationals bench players/minor leaguers yesterday, maybe we shouldn’t view this club as playoff bound, either.

So, in completely overreacting to one meaningless game, let’s try something here. What if what everyone had done previously in pro ball now didn’t count? What if the only thing that mattered were the Grapefruit League results after 17 games? With this as the outlandish premise, here is who would be on the club’s 2017 Opening Day roster:

SP – Jacob deGrom, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard

This quintet has combined for 26.1 IP, allowed 5 ER, gave up 6 BB and notched 22 Ks. And that doesn’t include Lugo’s 5.1 scoreless innings with no walks and three strikeouts against Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Essentially, the guys expected to start this year have done a great job in Florida (and Mexico, where Lugo’s gem took place.)

RP – Rafael Montero, Hansel Robles, Ben Rowen, Paul Sewald, Josh Smoker, Corey Taylor and Adam Wilk

Robles would be the closer, Smoker and Wilk the two lefties and the rest fighting to be the primary set-up guy. Rowen, Taylor and Wilk would be the longshots to appear in an actual game for the Mets this year. But Montero, Sewald and Smoker have helped their chances here in the early going. Let’s see if they can keep it up over the second half of Grapefruit League play.

C – Travis d’Arnaud and Rene Rivera

The injury to Kevin Plawecki opened up playing time for Tomas Nido but the youngster was unable to take advantage, as he managed just a .594 OPS.

INF – Luis Carpio, Gavin Cecchini, Lucas Duda, Phillip Evans, L.J. Mazzilli and Neil Walker

Terry Collins would have fun figuring out the starters here. The only given would be Duda at first base. Cecchini and Carpio would be the middle infielders but which one would play shortstop? Evans had the higher OPS but would the manager go off the board and put the veteran Walker over at third base, instead?

OF – Jay Bruce Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Travis Taijeron

Strictly by production, it would be Cespedes, Nimmo and Conforto as the starting three. And which one would play center? Nimmo’s supposed to be the center fielder but it feels like more of a coin flip situation here, with Conforto being the other option. Either is likely better than Cespedes, who opened at the position last year. Taijeron’s supposed to be a power hitter but his .400 OBP is what grabbed him the final spot.


Obviously, this would never happen. But it’s encouraging that Duda and Walker, two guys who entered camp as question marks due to their back injuries last year, have both performed so well here in the early going. And while d’Arnaud didn’t have a back injury, he’s just as likely to come down with one this year as anyone given his history. Yet he’s raking, too. Last year’s surprise starters are doing well and two of the three injured pitchers have come back strong, too. Even the heavily-lamented Bruce is swinging a hot bat.

It’s unquestionably a boring Spring Training but it’s been nice to see strong production from many guys who came in with injury concerns. The default assumption has been that at least one of the runner-ups from the fifth starter competition would wind up in the bullpen. Yet if the Mets opt to keep both of them in the minors, it’s good to know that someone like Sewald, who has performed well in the minors the past two seasons, is making the most of his chances this Spring and could earn an Opening Day spot. Also, it’s been good to see top prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith looking strong defensively, if not wowing us with their offensive performance so far.

15 comments for “An alternate Opening Day roster for the 2017 Mets

  1. MattyMets
    March 12, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I love Curtis Granderson but he should just fake an injury until the weather warms up in the north.

  2. Chris B
    March 12, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    I’d like to see Lugo as the fifth starter with Wheeler as a RP and Gsellman in Vegas ready for the inevitable hurt starter.

  3. Jimmy P
    March 12, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    I like Gsellman in the pen because it would be interesting to see if he could ramp up the fastball in one inning appearance. But Lugo has proven that he can adapt to a role in the pen. I don’t think there’s a wrong choice here.

    I’d like them both to pitch for the NY Mets. No need to stash a guy in Vegas when every game counts for the Mets this season.

    • March 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      And they could have the radical idea of using the loser of the 5th starter job as a true long man, rather than a guy who works a fraction of an inning at a time to they can play matchups in a game they’re losing by 8 runs.

  4. John Fox
    March 12, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    I’d like my spare outfielder to show more defense than Taijeron, he has not looked good in the field in the couple of games I saw

    • March 12, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      I’d have to say I’d be worried about the bullpen by a factor of 10 more than the guy who was the 5th OF.

      • Jimmy P
        March 13, 2017 at 1:39 pm

        I don’t think Taijeron can field.

        I still say that Ty Kelly has a shot because of his versatility.

        • March 13, 2017 at 1:50 pm

          Well, he can’t hit, either. He really should be buying one of those programs that helps you to speak Japanese because that’s probably his best bet.

          They took Kelly off the 40-man roster so I would be shocked if he made Opening Day over T.J. Rivera.

  5. Billy
    March 13, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Interesting… Harvey wasn’t in anyone’s dream scenario lineup…

    • March 13, 2017 at 9:03 am

      You missed the point. This had nothing to do with a dream scenario but rather on atual results.

  6. Eraff
    March 13, 2017 at 8:34 am

    somehwat off topic, but two guys on the list:

    Taijeron makes no impression with bat speed—looks about as 4A as it gets.

    I’ve seen Montero a few times this spring. He looks like he’s working on some delivery geometry, but every time he throws a 93 mph fastball, it seems to get barrelled. I think he’d do well to pitch as a starter at AA/AAA and continue to work on Geometry and Mix.

    • Jimmy P
      March 13, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      I think his FB is too straight and his off-speed stuff is not sharp enough. There’s just not a lot of variety or movement overall. But it’s encouraging that he’s shown the poise to even take the mound again after last season’s humiliations. It’s possible he has a few years of middle reliever in his future.

      • TexasGusCC
        March 14, 2017 at 12:44 am

        Guys, I was thinking that of Montero. His fastball is straight as a string. Why hasn’t he developed a forkball or splitter yet?

  7. David Groveman
    March 13, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Of the people you listed:

    Montero and Cecchini stick out as the guys who earned a spot on the roster.

    Obviously, Conforto has as well

  8. Jimmy P
    March 14, 2017 at 9:28 am

    A few things:

    * The 5th outfielder isn’t going to play. That’s the problem. It’s just a terrible role for Michael Conforto. Las Vegas is also horrendous for him, but at least he’d be playing baseball.

    * Often minor trades are made toward the end of ST to alleviate the numbers game, fill holes, address excesses.

    * I know I’m alone on this here, but I think the Mets pen is only good, not great, particularly to start the year. Fleeting thought, but I hope Reed is physically okay.

    * 40-man roster issues aside, I think of Kelly as a guy that TC likes. He can play 3B or OF. In the Mets WC game, TC sent him up as a PH and he came through. The Mets used 2 PHers that game, the other was Campbell who came in to play 1B. The thing about Kelly is that you don’t care if he sits for long stretches, you aren’t hoping to “develop” him.

    * More and more, it seems like the 2017 Mets are going to rely on Jose Reyes to have a strong season. I hope he gets regular rest. He’s an old 33.

    * Losing Duda last year was a significant loss. Having him around, and productive, has the potential to transform the lineup.

    * I still feel that Jay Bruce is a horrible fit for this team, but it still surprises me that other teams don’t find him attractive. He’d be a solid 6-hitter for any number of MLB teams, especially in the AL. I guess I still have that faint hope the Mets could work out a multi-player deal that returns a quality reliever.

    * Crazily, looking at Reyes and Flores at 3B — both mash LHP, very vulnerable to 75% of the rest of the league — I keep thinking that a LH-hitting 3B would be nice to have around. Yeah, Kelly Johnson.

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