Do the Mets finally have enough depth?

Last year was an outlier. 2017, like 2009, was a once every decade or so occurrence when a team gets snake bitten and injuries spread like pink eye at a pre-school. That said, injuries are inevitable and often times the team that are best prepared to overcome them are the ones left standing in October.

Clearly, no amount of depth could have helped the Mets overcome the losses of 4/5 of their rotation, their closer, best hitter, etc., last season. But a normal number of injuries can be managed when you have clearly identified bench players, bullpen arms and AAA reinforcements ready to step in when called upon. Now, given the limitations of payroll and the intricacies of a 40-man roster, there are limits to how deep you can go, but as of this writing, it looks like the Mets are prepared to overcome the more typical season bumps and bruises with an improved medical staff and training approach and yes, a deeper team than they’ve had in some time. Let’s take a look.

The Arms
At the moment at least, it seems the Mets have nine starting pitchers and there’s chatter about bullpen transitions, minor league options and even possibly trades. Who reading this wouldn’t bet their right arm that at least one of these guys will find a way to start the season on the disabled list or at least in extended spring training? Even if two or three wind up there, we should be okay to start the season.

Let’s make a few quick assumptions for the purposes of off-season speculation. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are 1 and 1a atop the rotation. That’s a darn good start. A healthy and hopefully rejuvenated Matt Harvey and the newly acquired Jason Vargas are 3 and 4. Whomever is healthy of Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler is 5. If by mystical powers of Zeus both are healthy, Wheeler goes to the bullpen, as does Rafael Montero, as he is out of options. Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman begin the season in AAA to stay stretched out as starters. More realistically, someone is injured which puts Lugo in the bullpen. This group is well positioned to withstand an injury or two.

The bullpen can say the same. especially with support from the former group. At the back end Jeurys Familia and AJ Ramos can both close and we have two quality set up men in Jerry Blevins and Anthony Swarzak. Wheeler and/or Lugo can add to that mix. For the situational guys and middle relievers, Mickey Callaway plans to shuttle guys between AAA and the big league club to keep arms fresh. Paul Sewald looks like he belongs and Hansel Robles will be given one last chance to put his power arm to good use. A host of other arms will be available, including Jamie Callahan, Jacob Rhame, P.J. Conlon, Matt Purke, Kevin McGowan, and others.

The Bats
A bench of Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes, Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Plawecki is pretty formidable and it will welcome the addition of Juan Lagares once Michael Conforto returns to health. The bench will be further bolstered by the return of T.J. Rivera, who proved he can hit and play multiple positions. The versatility of Rivera, Flores and Reyes, not to mention Asdrubal Cabrera, will help this team overcome most offensive injuries. Having Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton in the minors offers depth at catcher for when Travis d’Arnaud inevitably slips on a banana peel.

If you go position by position, there’s not a single player on this team that doesn’t have a clear backup. Dominic Smith, who may end up starting the season in AAA may turn out to be an improvement over Adrian Gonzalez. Of course, in some cases the drop off is significant – Yoenis Cespedes, Syndergaard, deGrom – but as is the case with every team, keeping your stars healthy is essential to success. But having some insurance for the inevitable makes injuries a lot easier to overcome.

The Mets will begin the season with a pretty thin outfield, but the team wisely brought back Matt den Dekker, who will likely begin the season in AAA, but offers speed, defense, and the ability to play all three outfield positions, if not a big bat. Reyes and Flores have also been taking some reps out on the grass in spring training so that either can fill in in a pinch early in the season.

The Mets could stand to bring in some additional reinforcements in AAA. In this strange off-season, certainly we can find a few veterans to stash down there in case the injury bug hits again. Think of them as the emergency food reserves in a bomb shelter. We may not need them, but it’s reassuring to know they’re there and man, we sure could have used a few cans of soup last year.

20 comments for “Do the Mets finally have enough depth?

  1. February 23, 2018 at 9:45 am

    From your lips to God’s ears, Matt…

  2. February 23, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    And so it begins…

    Dominic Smith was pulled from the lineup of today’s Grapefruit League opener because he was late for a team meeting.

    So much for that newfound self-discipline we’ve been hearing about…

    • MattyMets
      February 23, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      listening to Howie Rose broadcast now and it’s my birthday. Stuck at the office but with a smile

      • TexasGusCC
        February 23, 2018 at 3:48 pm

        Happy birthday Matt, many more!

      • Pete in Iowa
        February 24, 2018 at 10:43 am

        Hard to imagine a better birthday present Matt.

    • Mike Walczak
      February 23, 2018 at 9:42 pm

      Awesome – Smith must have hung around with Wilkerson of the Jets.

    • February 24, 2018 at 12:05 am

      Let’s not make this into a capital offense. He was late, his manager both instituted a punishment and expressed his displeasure publicly and Smith owned his mistake. A bad situation was handled in the appropriate way.

      My guess is this doesn’t happen with him again.

      • Chris F
        February 24, 2018 at 9:44 am

        I disagree. This is not the first occurrence for Smith according to nice article by Abbey Mastracco:

        “Smith claims this has never been a problem, but last fall a source told NJ Advance Media that he had been late to the park a few times after getting called up and was reprimanded by veterans.”

        Look at the sequence of events and its not good. Ive been replaced for no reason. Then, Callaway wanted to be sure others get ABs, then we hear he was called in to meet with Callaway, then we find out its a reprimand. Then we find out its for being late to a team meeting on day 1. His comments through the day are appalling:

        “Not that late, but late enough for it to be a problem”
        “I shouldn’t have been cutting it close like that as it is.”

        Quite frankly, its not clear he understands that hes playing against guys like Bryce Harper who will kill himself to get an out.

        • February 24, 2018 at 10:52 am

          I stand corrected on the frequency.

          I do wonder who needs to be an anonymous source about a rookie being a prima donna…

          I will adjust my thinking to make him prove that this isn’t going to happen again. But I’m not going to make a mountain out of, what at this time, is essentially a molehill. Surely there are bigger things to worry about than this.

  3. John Fox
    February 23, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Yes its clear that deGrom/Syndergaard are the 1-2 pitchers, but the rest should fight it out in ST for the other 3 starting slots. My prediction would be Steven Matz for the #3 starting role, he has pitched well when healthy and that ulnar nerve injury he had last year to end his season is one where pitchers generally recover well from, see deGrom in 2017.

  4. TJ
    February 23, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    Without going through a player by player comparison, this 40 roster plus other prospects may be the deepest Met roster I can recall. Not the most talented, but it looks to only be thin at catcher.

    • February 24, 2018 at 12:09 am

      I don’t believe catcher is thin. I think they have two reasonable guys in the majors and two reasonable guys at Triple-A.

      • TJ
        February 24, 2018 at 7:39 am

        Ironically, I am among what seems to be a minority that is fine with the big league tandem. I hesitated slightly before writing that, but I wanted to identify a group in the system that could require an import if things don’t go well, but I think essentially I am closer to your opinion than initially reflected.

        • Pete in Iowa
          February 24, 2018 at 10:48 am

          I don’t believe there is any doubt that the catcher position is clearly the weakest link on the roster. Sure would be nice to package up some of this depth to get a front line backstop like Realmuto, who is clearly available and could be had for the right package. Thinking along the lines of Flores, TDA and one of Lugo, Gsellman or even perhaps Wheeler.

  5. TexasGusCC
    February 24, 2018 at 3:04 am

    While the team looks to have depth, you made a good point concerning Cabrera in that he could just as easily be a depth piece. In fact, the Mets don’t have many star caliber hitters and many depth prices may be just as good as the starters. I can only put Cespedes and hopefully Conforto in the 4-star or above rating. Meanwhile, the Nationals have at least six and possibly seven if Billy Taylor breaks out. Therefore, the Mets will need to execute and pitch better than the Nats.

    There isn’t much they can do at this point to take advantage of this depth, but I would love to hear before spring training ends that they brought in Harrison for Cabrera and Gsellman or Cabrera and Wheeler, or maybe a couple of arms and Cabrera for Dozier; that would be a nice use of the depth.

    • MattyMets
      February 24, 2018 at 8:29 am

      Gus- thanks for the bday wishes. Depth helps to avoid seasons like the Mets had last year but it doesn’t win championships. The Nats are more talented but they are top heavy and lack depth in some areas. They are WS contenders on paper, but they could easily be derailed by injuries. For that reason I still see the Cubs as a better team.

      • Mike Walczak
        February 24, 2018 at 4:24 pm

        Watch out for the Cardinals as well especially if they get Reyes back.

  6. Eraff
    February 24, 2018 at 3:18 am

    Quick Overview of Catcher RBI by selected teams….. I name the front line Catcher, the Team, and the total RBI for the Catcher Position for each team.

    Molina/Cardinals…. 91
    Contreras/Cubs …..100
    Posey/SF……… 112
    d’Arnaud/Mets….96
    Weiters/Nats…….63

    I believe the Mets have way, way upside here. d’Arnaud had a .250 babip in 2017. The Catchers are still youngish and should be in their prime. They will each get good rest and work schedules.

    I’m not crazy about the specific defense of either guy, but this is a solid offensive slot for the Mets when you consider the facts about MLB Catchers.

  7. Eraff
    February 24, 2018 at 3:35 am

    The Fairy Tale 2018 versus the 2017 Nightmare….

    It’s late June…the Mets Pitching is performing the way we’ve always hoped. Smith and Rosario are Starting and performing at a strong level. Conforto is back since June 1st, and He’s hitting his stride. Cespedez has been electric, performing at an MVP level for the first part of the season. Bruce and Cabrera and Frazier are steady, providing everything from the back of their baseball cards. The Bullpen is solid…a next man up performance repertoire.

    Plawecki is now playing 60% of The Time… Rocking an .810 OPS with improved defense…..finally justifying Eraff’s long standing support.

    The Minors are Buzzing…Oswalt and Flexen are Humming. Desmond Lindsey and Giminez are Killing their leagues. Vientos and Alonzo and Molina are surging… Kay and Dunn and Petersen are Knocking for Promoitions to their next Levels.
    There are suddenly 5 Mets in the Top 100 Prospects, with another 2-4 on the edge.

    Only Guillorme is sagging…. a .656 OPS at Vegas with 4 extra base Hits and a Sagging Walk Rate. Even Mets360 Fans have given up on Louis!

    Sandy is the talk of Baseball. Mickey is Baseball’s sudden Genius.

    Everyone still hates The Wilpons because they’re Still Dicks!!!!!

    Let’s Go Mets!!!!!

    • TexasGusCC
      February 24, 2018 at 11:36 am

      Where do I sign!?

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