The Mets roster is not quite ready for Opening Day

For informed Mets fans this has been a pleasantly surprising off-season. The front office was active, ownership opened the checkbook and the team filled all of its most glaring holes. Now, midway through spring training, the coaches and executives are evaluating talent to finalize what should be a solid 25-man roster entering the season.

Of course, we already know for certain that the team that takes the field on March 29 will not be the same team that trots out of the dugout on May 1, let alone during the dog days of summer and hopefully a pennant race. Michael Conforto will be back. T.J. Rivera will be back. Heck, fingers and toes crossed, David Wright may even be back at some point. Some players who may start the year in AAA will force themselves onto the roster and some who make the initial cut may fall on their faces – literally or figuratively – and get Wally Pipped.

The roster will be fluid all season, probably even more so than in previous years with new skipper Mickey Callaway‘s plan to shuttle relievers back and forth to keep the bullpen fresh. So while it’s a fun exercise to debate who will make the opening day roster, in many ways that’s less important than who makes the 40 man roster. Having quality, Major League ready talent stashed in Las Vegas will give Callaway and his coaching staff the flexibility they need to keep this team firing on all cylinders through injuries, slumps and dead arms.

As it stands now, it looks like we’ll have some valuable players to call upon when needed, including a starting pitcher or two who would make most teams rotations out of spring training and infielders trying to make the leap like Dominic Smith, Gavin Cecchini, and even Luis Guillorme. There will also be a few relievers with upside who we already got to see on the hill last September with varying results. Tomas Nido gives us an important emergency third catcher, as does the veteran Jose Lobaton, who has not been guaranteed a roster spot. The same goes for outfielder Matt den Dekker and pitcher A.J. Griffin.

We snicker when the Mets make signings like that, but they serve as injury insurance. For instance, you begin the season with five outfielders, so if one gets hurt, yes you have backups, but who moves up to take the now open reserve spot. Injuries trickle down and multiple injuries compound like interest.

There’s been a lot of discussion about trading away depth, including Gold Glover Juan Lagares. Given the lack of a clear path to playing time it may be hard to justify Lagares’ salary, but he’s an injury away from starting, not to mention our best defensive outfielder hands down.

If we’re in win now mode, this is the type of foolish penny pinching that could really come back to bite us. Let’s say we trade him. With Conforto beginning the season on the DL, we’d have a starting outfield of injury prone Yoenis Cespedes, not entirely proven Brandon Nimmo, and Jay Bruce. Guess who the fourth outfielder becomes? den Dekker. And beyond that? *Crickets chirping* Kevin Kaczmarski? Zach Borenstein? It’s like that scene in Major League. Yes, Conforto wil be back soon, but he’s coming off a serious shoulder injury and what if Cespedes pulls a hamstring muscle in the April cold?

If a month or two from now Conforto and the rest of the outfielders are healthy and a rival GM calls with a good offer for Lagares, sure it’s worth considering, but right now, dealing him away for the sake of saving money could be a costly mistake. Contending teams don’t put themselves in a precarious position like that. But still, couldn’t we find a cheaper reserve outfielder than Lagares? No. Ready for the tantalizing list of still available free agent outfielders? Jayson Werth, Jose Bautista, Matt Holliday, Seth Smith, Frankilin Gutierrez, Andre Ethier and Melky Cabrera. The last guy mentioned is 33, still pretty good, and wouldn’t dream of signing on to be a fifth outfielder. The other guys could get together and form an old-timers game.

A smarter idea would be to add depth, not strip this team of flexibility and security. Other than Alex Cobb and Greg Holland, the free agency aisle has been picked pretty bare, but there will be DFAs and minor trades coming as teams solidify their rosters. Maybe the Mets could trade from an area of depth to flesh out a thinner area. Surely Hansel Robles‘s power arm or Rafael Montero‘s former prospect status will entice someone to part with a AAAA outfielder. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

16 comments for “The Mets roster is not quite ready for Opening Day

  1. March 16, 2018 at 10:50 am

    We have the conflicting story lines of how good the offseason moves were and how bad Grapefruit League results have been. I wonder if having the worst record in MLB will encourage the front office to make another move, like trading Lagares or signing another player. Or both.

    • MattyMets
      March 16, 2018 at 11:37 am

      ST is far from over. Questions still need answering and a few guys need to start hitting. To me the lack of speed is glaring. When half the sluggers aren’t slugging you play the station to station game.

      We’ve seen encouraging signs from most of the key pitchers. Montero and Robles have really hurt their causes though.

    • Chris F
      March 16, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Lots of ink on the notion of trading Lagares…and the beat writer info from the team is…not gonna happen.

      Even if Nimmo were to leapfrog Lagares, the OF depth is non existent past these two (sorry den Dekker), and the idea we might have Ces and Conforto down at the same time is far from unimaginable.

      Additionally, given the contract values these days, the feel is no one would trade for Lagares without expecting sandy to eat some $. Not gonna happen.

      They can blow smoke up out butt about ST results, but two things are clear beyond the record: the starters after JdG and NS are not much to talk about, overall the offense is offensive, and defense is not much to talk about. So take out the standings, and quite frankly its hard just to celebrate “process” either.

      One of my biggest disappointments has been Guillorme, whos defense has been quite horrific to watch. Seems even ST play is much faster than minor league ball.

      • TexasGusCC
        March 16, 2018 at 9:20 pm

        Chris, it kills me to agree with everything you said, but I must. Let’s put it this way, sometimes I feel you are quick to condemn my peeps, but not this time. And can Flores get to play?

        • Chris F
          March 16, 2018 at 11:14 pm

          🙂

  2. Name
    March 16, 2018 at 11:31 am

    tgpMets updated their options section for 2018 so here’s a rundown.

    Anyone have news about Montero? He’s out of options so either we carry him or DFA him. I think another team would (stupidly) claim him, but there’s a possibility he would pass through waivers. Sandy has some secret love affair with him or something and can’t seem to let him go so my inkling is that he gets a spot to start the year.

    Somehow Plawecki is also out of options as well. He’s going to make the team for sure but if he continues to suck once the season starts he might get scooped up during the waiver process.

    Robles, Lagares, Matz all have an option remaining if we choose to go down that route.

    Nimmo with his <300 PA career also down to his last option, meaning if he doesn't show enough this year he may not be in the org next year.

    • TJ
      March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      Name,
      Good rundown. Unfortunately for Montero, he will need to pitch perfect baseball for the remainder of the spring or is a certainty to be DFA’d. I have no idea how these options work, but Plawecki and Nimmo have seen enough of the minors, they need to get it done in the show and put AAA/AAAA behind them.

      It will be interesting to see what happens once TJ Rivera is healthy, as that infield is crowded and it may mean that an underperforming Reyes or Cabrera could be released.

    • Chris F
      March 16, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      Can only hope some team would claim Montero on waivers…let them deal with him. Complete train wreck. If he has dirt on the Wilpons, just make a settlement, and get on with life. Has no business in the big leagues.

  3. Mike Walczak
    March 16, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    If you really look at it, they are not a solid team. A few good players and a lot of mediocrity. They could get lucky and win 90 games or they could suck and lose 90 again. I really believe that deGrom and Syndergaard will be solid, but after that, it is a real toss up.

    No speed, that is why I hope Nimmo plays well and gets most starts in C.F. I am really worried about first base. A key position and no solid answer. I really hate to say it, but Duda may have been a better bet.

    So lets wait and see.

    • MattyMets
      March 16, 2018 at 8:59 pm

      Chris – you made me laugh

      Mike – Is agree. First base is a potential problem.

      BK – I think Nimmo is Alderson’s Scott Hatterberg.

  4. BK
    March 16, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    My concern is that they will make roster decisions based on the spring training version of Nimmo. I’m not convinced it’s the real deal.

  5. Metsense
    March 16, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    It is all about the pitching and Syndergaard and DeGrom are more than ready. Harvey and Vargas look good in the middle of the rotation. The other potential starters are healthy.
    It is a solid roster especially if Plawecki and Nimmo keep developing. The roster will be ready when Conforto gets back and Cespedes is healthy.

  6. TexasGusCC
    March 17, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Matt, after rereading you article this morning, it seems to me this conversation is every spring. Every spring the Mets are being put together on a shoestring budget due to this or that reason, and have at least one retread. In fact, this year I’m going to say they have at least two because the corner infielders are both lesser players thrust into a production role they aren’t suited for. Therefore, despite Alderson’s mantra all winter about revaluing defense, he cannot because his offense is insufficient, and we’ve seen it all spring. Lagares’ glove alone would help more than Bruce’s bat + his glove, but it needs to be marked down to get money off the books and bring in a LOOGY, or minor league reliever, or maybe some international draft money.

    Lagares must go, who even at .230 (and he’s a career .260 hitter) would be a great help to the pitching staff, to put in Jay Bruce whose previous good year was in 2011, ironically his previous contract year.

    At the Bruce signing, I said that the outfield was not the need and was rather versatile already, but if Bruce were to play first base I could live with it. However, Bruce is telling us that he will only play first in an emergency and thus getting a lesser hitter than Bruce for first base makes the architect of this design look like a fool once more.

    What is it about Alderson and free agency? He’s always making promises about use that handcuff the team to marginal quality players, and in fact, Cespedes was the only strong quality player he has ever signed.

    Meet the Mets.

    • MattyMets
      March 17, 2018 at 7:27 pm

      Gus – even having written this post, I could read it now and think differently. This team has enough strengths and depth to be solid to good, but too many weak links to be great. I understand that Alderson does not have a blank check book, but I don’t understand his insistence on building a team in the mold of the 70’s Orioles. Power is great, but you need some speed to avoid team slumps. He also undervalues defense. Though the left side of the infield should be pretty good and either AGon or Smith is better at first than Duda.

      We’re especially critical of our team as die hard fans. Look at the Nats, Dodgers, Cubs, Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, Indians – the teams everyone expects to make the playoffs. They clearly have more talent, but do they have the depth to overcome injuries? These teams have holes and question marks too. The Mets are right there with the next tier fighting for the wild cards. You can’t tell me the Cards, Brewers, DBacks, Giants and Rockies are any better than us. And the other six NL teams have virtually no chance.

      • Chris F
        March 17, 2018 at 7:34 pm

        I agree with Gus and I agree with Matt at the same time, so you can imagine how that makes me feel.

        😉

        • TJ
          March 18, 2018 at 5:54 pm

          +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: