Kevin Plawecki looks to leap Travis d’Arnaud in September

It’s hard to believe now but back when the Mets traded R.A. Dickey, the main get was Travis d’Arnaud, who was billed as a star two-way backstop. As a franchise, the Mets have been blessed with some pretty strong catchers throughout the years and it seemed like d’Arnaud was going to take his place along with previous All-Stars Gary Carter, Jerry Grote, Todd Hundley, Paul Lo Duca, Mike Piazza and John Stearns.

But it hasn’t worked out that way at all as d’Arnaud hasn’t been able to stay healthy. And when he has been healthy, the results have been underwhelming, save for the stretch run in 2015. Last year he was healthy in September when the Mets were battling for a Wild Card spot. But he ended up sharing time with Rene Rivera because neither guy was really hitting and Rivera, even with his own defensive shortcomings, did a better job of controlling the running game.

It’s been more of the same for d’Arnaud here in 2017. Yes, there was the completely expected trip to the disabled list in early May. But once he returned after a three-week absence, there just hasn’t been the production we hoped to see, especially considering that he hasn’t missed any time due to injury. In 254 PA since being activated from the DL, he has a .239/.280/.378 line that can only be described as disappointing.

Meanwhile, Kevin Plawecki started the year in the minors. As bad as d’Arnaud was in 2016, Plawecki was worse. He saw some time while d’Arnaud was disabled early on this year but it was just more of the same, as he managed just three hits in 28 trips to the plate. Plawecki soon found himself back in Triple-A but somehow things were different this time around.

What people forget about Plawecki is that while he’s struggled mightily in the majors, he’s never really hit in the top level of the minors, either. But in his second stint with Las Vegas here in 2017, he put up .338/.386/.529 line in 233 PA. That’s an OPS 83 points higher than what he did at the same level in 2016. Finally, he produced numbers worth noticing with the 51s.

Rivera ended up being claimed on waivers by the Cubs and the Mets let him go, opening up a spot for Plawecki. And this time around, he’s actually hitting in the majors, too. In 39 PA since his recall, Plawecki carries an .870 OPS, with four of his 11 hits going for extra bases. It’s a tiny sample, and comes with a .323 BABIP. But it’s still an encouraging thing for a guy who entered this season with a .572 OPS in the majors.

Last year, the Mets ended up giving equal time to d’Arnaud and Rivera in September. But this year, the majority of the playing time should go to Plawecki. You could make the argument that the Mets should run a strict platoon at the position, as d’Arnaud has pounded lefties to a .963 OPS this season and lifetime has a 65-point OPS edge against southpaws.

To me, Plawecki has looked like a guy who could hit when he stepped into the box but the results have just never been there. It’s very possible that this is nothing but a small sample mirage. But hopefully he’ll get in the neighborhood of 75 more PA this season. That still won’t be a very large sample but if Plawecki keeps up an .800+ OPS over the rest of the year, he could leapfrog d’Arnaud in the team’s pecking order.

This offseason will be d’Arnaud’s second year of arbitration eligibility. If Plawecki continues to hit in September, it could make d’Arnaud a non-tender candidate. Last year, it was a no-brainer to retain him as the top backstop at a relatively low $1.875 million. Do the Mets want to pay more than that for him to be their backup at the position? This year, they gave Rivera $1.75 million to be the backup. But Rivera had worked well with Noah Syndergaard and had the reputation of a good defensive backstop.

Will the Mets be willing to pay $2 million for d’Arnaud to be a lefty masher? They gave Wilmer Flores $2.2 million here in 2016 so it’s not out of the question. Surely, the Mets would prefer not to be in the market for a catcher, too, this offseason. They’ll likely be closely watching the output of both of their backstops the final 24 games of the year, hoping at least one turns in a strong finishing kick.

36 comments for “Kevin Plawecki looks to leap Travis d’Arnaud in September

  1. Sinhalo27
    September 6, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Plawecki largely hit well at the upper levels of the minors, re-check your numbers. With that, TDA is still garbage… maybe fit to be a backup but likely should be switched to another position amd likely out of the organization. Plawecki wasn’t rushed to majors for an extended period this season for the first time and still appears to be the best likely long term solution at catcher.

    • September 6, 2017 at 10:30 am

      No, you’re mistaken.

      The only thing I said in the article was that he hadn’t hit in Las Vegas. And you have to remember that Las Vegas is a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league. An .800 OPS in Las Vegas is not anything to get excited about. This year the team average is a .776 OPS and that includes pitchers. Shoot, Rafael Montero had an .833 OPS in Vegas and that guy can’t hit to save his life.

      Here are KP’s numbers in Vegas;
      2014 – .766 OPS
      2015 – .608 OPS
      2016 – .832 OPS

      If you call that hitting well, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  2. Jimmy P
    September 6, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I like d’Arnaud in a platoon role, especially against LHP.

    I don’t think Plawecki is a serious upgrade, but he’s put himself back into the conversation.

    In effect, Mets would be going with two backup catchers in 2018.

    With Lacroy’s numbers way down, he might be gotten at a good price.

    Ultimately, Sandy has failed so spectacularly, the Mets have holes all over the roster, more than they can possibly fill.

    This organization fears change and risk much more than they desire excellence. So they remain stuck. Sandy will promote the next guy in line, deserving or not. He’ll keep Cabrera and Reyes, he’ll do something “medium” to get some fan attention, he’ll cash his annual $5 million or whatever he makes, the Wilpons will stay afloat, and the Mets will slog through what is increasingly looking like a lost decade (with a two-month blip).

  3. Sinhalo27
    September 6, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Quite the opposite… it’s been one of the better decades the franchise has had. Back-to-back playoff appearances for only the 2nd time ever.

    • Jimmy P
      September 6, 2017 at 11:31 am

      You are deluded by the second WC. Look at win-loss records, look at the non-competitive seasons. You are flatly wrong.

      • Sinhalo27
        September 6, 2017 at 12:02 pm

        Actually I’m heroically correct. Thats the measure of success in the modern game, like it or not it just is. Look at their records through the years…esp with the history of this franchise. It is. Sorry..

        • Jimmy P
          September 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm

          Heroically correct?

          That’s pretty great. Wildly wrong and patting yourself on the back about it.

          I salute your positive self-image!

          • September 6, 2017 at 1:26 pm

            Around a dozen years ago, I used to be active at this board called Baseball Primer. Whenever someone left a comment that was particularly well stated, another commenter would nominate it for a “Primey.”

            You just earned a Primey!

  4. Chris F
    September 6, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Alderson said yesterday that he views both Plawecki and TdA as “above average” catchers and is happy to go forward with this pair. He cited a lack of availability at the C position as well. The long and short of it is this: These are your catchers for 2018, and likely beyond.

    According to Mike Puma today, Alderson also made clear the 154M$ in salary for this year was more than where ownership wanted to be. I think it is safe to say that 2018 will be less money. Although the mantra is to say “we intend to be competitive” there is little reason to be enthusiastic with this news. Furthermore, Alderson *again* is baking on full recovery of the “we be illin’ ” starting rotation, despite all evidence to the contrary. He mentioned needing a “Colon-like” vet starter. What that tells me is he is waving the white flag already.

  5. Sinhalo27
    September 6, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Ah yes… cherry picking, turning this into a one-dimensional OPS convo… where you’re comparing him to some fake self-imposed standard across all players which shows complete lack of understanding and roster awareness… he produced. 2014 was less than a month after earning a promo from AA, which is an upper level he hit well in and more indicative of the conditions in NY… but still 2014 was good good month there first time there. Conveniently left off 2017. Either way he’s a catcher and catchers are instructed defense first, everything everything second… he has done well and they’re feasibly a better team with him over as catcher.

    • September 6, 2017 at 10:53 am

      It’s not cherry picking – I presented all of his numbers at Las Vegas. I clearly said in the article that he finally hit in Vegas in his second stint this year.

  6. Sinhalo27
    September 6, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Actually that’s the definition of cherry picking. One start from one period to push a false narrative that covers a broad definition of non-commensurate comparison, sorry. He hits well and is more productive than other catchers… that’s the most proper and correct comparison to make. He was productive, drove in runs, got XBHs, decent BA and OBP… again all at a defense first position. Either way if you’re relying on offense from a Mets catcher and his name isn’t Piazza or Carter or Hundley then your team is in much bigger trouble than you’re giving them credit for.

    • September 6, 2017 at 11:13 am

      So, 2014 and 2015 and 2016 are one period. That’s good to know.

      He has to hit enough to be a major leaguer, not better than the backup catchers at Las Vegas. You say he’s productive without giving any evidence to support that claim. Just because you say something – or in your case say it multiple times – doesn’t make it true.

      His production has to be examined relative to the environment in which he created it. Sure, his defensive position is absolutely relevant and the bar to be a succeesful offensive catcher is different that a successful offensive first baseman. But prior to his demotion back to Vegas in 2017, Plawecki had not cleared that bar. Unless you somehow think a .281 OBP and .319 SLG – his translated numbers from 2016 when he had his best production – are acceptable.

      • Chris F
        September 6, 2017 at 11:28 am

        Guys, it doesnt matter. He and TdA will be the catchers next year. The third catcher likely to be Carillo.

        It is what it is.

  7. September 6, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Hey Beebop – your comment was sent to the trash. In case you missed it, here’s what I said in regards to your last name change:

    This is the last alias that gets approved for you. For the love of all things holy, Koos/Oops/Popeye/Alex/Dudd/Ironman777/Milo/Jerry k/Scott, pick one and stick with it. It’s not that hard.

  8. Sinhalo27
    September 6, 2017 at 11:27 am

    It’s useless trying to twist or disfigure context, break that habit and break it quick. Here is all you need…

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=plawec000kev

    Now if you’re intent is to play 3rd rate lawyer ob a 4th rate blog you might be into something. His BA OBP and XBHs over extended periods are acceptable, not for a scattered month or two when tda gets crippled. They were a much better team with him barely hitting and catching in 2015 when TDA was injured and eventually got thoroughly embarrassed in the WS. When he gets to develop and gets extended time he produces and we’re setting that at the ML level the more time they give him now.

    • September 6, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Context is everything. If you think that performance in Las Vegas in the PCL is the same thing as performance in MLB please go somewhere else. You’re not smart enough to comment here.

  9. Jimmy P
    September 6, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I think it’s reasonable to believe that Plawecki can hit. Reasonable to have that faith.

    But to argue that he has hit, outside of 2017 in Vegas, that’s not accurate. He did have a good year in Binghamton a while back, as I recall. But the bat has been a disappointment and his defense/leadership is nothing that sets him apart. Functional with a weak arm, I’d say.

    Would love to see him become the hitter that the Mets hoped for when they drafted him in the 2nd round: Gap to gap power and high contact rate. If he can do that, it will play. It remains to be seen. I’m glad he’s getting some garbage time in 2017 to state his case.

  10. Sinhalo27
    September 6, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Actually I’m heroically correct. Thats the measure of dices in that modern game, Like it or not it just is. Look at their records through the years. It is. Sorry.

  11. Metsense
    September 6, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I don’t agree with Sandy, the catching situation does need to be addressed. If they have to settle for a sub average offensive catcher then they should try to get a better defensive catcher to control the running game. Someone better than Rivera. I like d’Arnaud’s splits against left-handed pitching so he can platoon at a two million-dollar cost if that is what they want to do. Instead , I would try to trade him ,get a defensive catcher and use Plawecki as the backup. Plawecki can then hit himself into a starting position if he is capable to do so in 2018

    • Chris F
      September 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      I hear ya Metsense. I mean we are looking at two back up catchers battling for a starting position. I just think that of all the gaps that exist for next year the Alderson position is simply this: both are catchers at least. Its not a high bar to cross, except perhaps on the Mets. Since both are actual catchers, and money will clearly be an issue I just cant see much activity on that front. Alderson can call them both “above average” all he wants, but the numbers dont permit it. Some 1400 PAs into his career, and TdA has little to be particularly proud of: a cumulative WAR <2, career OPS+ <100, career BA < .250; there aint much defense to offset that. Although the MLB sample size is smaller for KP at about 500 PA, the offense is categorically anemic. Maybe his remade stance and approach at the plate will make him the new "Murph", but there is nothing in his MLB numbers to suggest he can hit in the bigs. I think his defense is better than TdA, and with defense a priority at C, he needs consideration.

      Look around the diamond. The team needs 2 starters, and preferably a front end guy. The infield is in shambles. The inly set position as far as I can see is SS. Smith looks ill prepared for the big leagues as of now making 1B a question mark, second base is a mess, and that black hole at 3B is hard to ignore. Alserson can mix an match all he wants, but an infield of Cabrera, Rosario, Flores, and Smith is headed for a lot of bad plays and no games of meaning is September, let alone October. Then we have the expectation of Conforto not reappearing until after the ASG if I had to guess, so we have OF needs unless we all think Lagares and Nimmo (and Aoki?) can fill the hole at CF and RF.

      All in all, with a reduced budget and this amount of work, 2018 looking already thin

      🙁

      • Jimmy P
        September 6, 2017 at 5:14 pm

        Alderson is lying when he talks about the $154 budget, because with the trades the reality is closer to $140.

        It’s the annual con job.

        The Wilpons are crooks and Sandy is complicit.

  12. John Fox
    September 6, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Competition is a good thing. Let them battle it out for the rest of this year and spring training next year, and be flexible enough to give whoever has the hot hand more starts.

  13. Sinhalo27
    September 6, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Doesnt matter, don’t take the bait.
    Now… the facts state this is among their most successful decades ever, not even a debate, doesn’t need your consent, it’s a concrete fact. 2nd time ever consecutive playoff appearances, format is irrelevant, can only play the hand you’re dealt, no choice in the matter. Career franchise .480 winning percentage through 6 different decades, 56 seasons, and 9 total post-season appearances…. back-to-back is very successful in comparison to how they’ve performed historically which is the only measuring stick this can be judged and qualified with. #Facts

    • Metsense
      September 6, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      1983-1992 883 wins won 1986 WS, 1988 lost NLDS
      1997-2006 841 wins lost 2000 WS, 1999 lost NLCS, 2006 lost NLCS
      1968-1977 807 wins won 1969 WS, lost 1973 WS
      2007-2016 807 wins lost 2015 WS, 2016 lost NLCS
      It looks like there were three better decades and the recent one is the worst of the group.

      • Sinhalo27
        September 6, 2017 at 3:35 pm

        yeahno, decades are classified in terms of 70s, 80s, etc… not randomly, cherry-picked, agenda-driven 10 year increments. Sorry, its a universally agreed upon standard… real real basic stuff here. This is one of the better ones.

        l

  14. MattyMets
    September 6, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    A lot of Mets fans have gone nuts since Anderson just basically said that the undynamic duo is likely to be back next year. I’m not among them. I don’t love either TDA or Plawecki but there are no great alternatives. There’s only one Buster Posey and a small handful of other good catchers who are not available. Lucroy is older, having a bad year and still won’t come cheap. Writers is overrated – maybe a slight upgrade for $10 million? Russel Martin might make a good short term trade option except that he has a bloated contact.

  15. Pete In Iowa
    September 6, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    The Mets should trade for JT Realmuto this off season, who would be a clear upgrade at the position. On both sides of the ball. Plawecki should be the back-up and d’Arnothing should be shown the door.
    How about this for being bold: Cespedes, Familia, Matz, Smith and Lagares for Realmuto and Stanton. Yes, Stanton. You know they are going to trade him before the real money kicks in.

  16. Sinhalo27
    September 6, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Cool so they’re gonna fields a tean with like 6 guys in the field. Stanton, Harper… their future contracts are team killers. They’re not gonna win wherever they end up.

  17. Jimmy P
    September 6, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    This is an old, old problem for the Mets.

    They go halfway.

    So they sign Cespedes for $27 million, that’s fine. I like it, in fact. But then you can’t retreat from the budget. Because it makes the original contract look lopsided, bloated.

    It makes no sense to sign Cespedes if you are then not going to spend the resources to address other areas on the team.

    Oh well. He built an abysmal farm system, failed utterly in that regard, and that was the key to winning on a shoestring.

    Watching Nimmo, Cecchini and Smith and I’m thinking, “Where are the tools?” Forget 5 tools. Where are any tools?

    Nimmo was drafted for plate discipline, but that’s cancelled out by Smith, who obviously has none.

    Oh well. As I keep saying, with expanded WC even a mediocre club has a real shot at meaningful games in September. And who knows, some years you might win a few of them and get to Game 163.

  18. TexasGusCC
    September 7, 2017 at 1:08 am

    The truth is, upgrading all that much at catcher may not be so easy. In fact, this team seems set in several positions.

    Conforto is due back the beginning of March, so Conforto, Lagares, Cespedes, Nimmo is a decent start.problem is the infield isn’t too sexy. Rosario is a given; Flores at second would be, but that can only happen if the third baseman and first baseman are better than average defensively. I would prefer trading a young arm for Adrian Beltre and Profar, but if that isn’t doable, Neil Walker coming back to play third may be an option. Do you give Walker a three year deal?

    My only hesitation is first base. Do the Mets see Smith as a long term answer? Problem with Mets fans is they are too quick to judge and want “sure things”. I heard Keith Hernandez say it took him three years to breakout. If the Mets can get Beltre, they can carry Smith for a few months to see how he does. If the Mets can’t get a good third baseman, they may need to sign an offensive option for first base.

    The player the Mets can use is Howie Kendrick. Good leader, winning player that winning teams trade for. He could be a partial solution at first base or third base and very good in the clubhouse.

    • MattyMets
      September 7, 2017 at 11:29 am

      Gus – a player I’ve liked forever might finally make sense – Brandon Phillips. He’s older but not injury prone. Still plays good defense and has a solid bat and OBP and it would be great to have his veteran leadership in the clubhouse and between the two kids in the field.

      • TexasGusCC
        September 7, 2017 at 5:46 pm

        Matt, Seems like a nice fit, but I didn’t like the way he dogged it in Cincy. But, if he’s cheap enough where we could cut him if he can’t find motivation, or I’d do one year and an option.

  19. Eraff
    September 8, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Scooter Gennett

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