The flurry of trades and signings the Mets front office made recently has come to the praise of many, in addition to the dismay of many more. That part at least is typical Mets, but what is unusual is the moves themselves.
In past offseasons the Mets have made minimal moves. This is not necessarily a bad strategy as free agents often come overpriced and with flaws, and the Alderson Administration should be given some credit for making important smaller signings like the minor league contracts given to Marlon Byrd and Rene Rivera. For the most part, a contender was built from talent from the farm system, and then complemented with trade additions like Yoenis Cespedes and Addison Reed without trading the top talents.
However, after their 2016 wildcard game loss they came to Spring Training with essentially the same roster, and the results were well… not good.
While indeed injuries plagued the 2017 Mets, there is a cure for physical ailments (and no it’s not always firing the trainer). It is called depth, and the Mets seem to have great depth heading into 2019.
As a fan you root for the rookies to excel in a starting spot, or for the players you have rooted for over the years to finally break out. My last article on Juan Lagares is perhaps an example of the latter. I even own a Mike Baxter shirsey because I was convinced he would be a fixture in left field. Unfortunately, having the Ty Kelly’s and Daniel Muno’s of the world is not part of the formula to win rings.
Having a plethora of major-league proven hitters is.
Many Mets fans would have wanted to see an opening day infield of Peter Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario and Todd Frazier, but that infield was most likely not the 70’s Dodgers. There was room to improve that infield, and it appears some combination of those four with Robinson Cano and Jed Lowrie will do just that. It’s not like McNeil is never going to see the light of day behind the 36 and 34 year old.
Look at recent champions and you’ll find not a set lineup but a group of many talented players splitting time. The 2018 Red Sox lineup felt deep 1-12. Steve Pearce had an OPS over .900 and ended up winning the World Series MVP. They also had pluralities at multiple positions with Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, Mitch Moreland, and Ian Kinsler playing partial roles.
The year before the Astros had super utilityman Marwin Gonzales, slugger Evan Gattis, and defensive wiz Jake Marisnick all playing partial roles and moving around. J.D. Davis was also on that commissioner’s trophy team for the end of the regular season.
These are just two of the most successful teams to employ roster rotation with a deep bench, and it is refreshing to see the Mets potentially do the same. Going into the season the Mets’ best asset outside of pitching is their position player depth. While they have been platooning players ever since Casey Stengel was in charge, it has been a while since a Mets manager has had so many quality ballplayers at their disposal.
Many say that when it comes to playoffs, teams win based off their bench and their bullpen. At least in January it appears the Mets have a pretty deep bench. If they are more successful this year it will be in part due to their ability to consistently write legit major league hitters in the order instead of complaining about injuries and putting out replacement level players.