Meet ‘depth,’ the Mets’ best position player

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.

25 comments for “Meet ‘depth,’ the Mets’ best position player

  1. January 17, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Depth was always an issue under Alderson every year and had to trade for it late in the 2015 season as far as 2016 Loney was absolutely terrible and Alderson had to trade for Kelly Johnson again in 2016. I mean Eric Campbell had the most at bat at third base in 2015 due to Wright’s injury.

  2. John Fox
    January 17, 2019 at 9:53 am

    No depth at shortstop so far, Amed Rosario is not going to play 162 games, so unless Luis Guillorme or Andre Gimenez makes the 25 man roster there is no one who can play an acceptable short behind Rosario.

    • Artie
      January 17, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      Giminez needs to play every day!

  3. Eraff
    January 17, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Mets can use Lowrie or McNeill on Rosario’s off Days. Carrying a non-bat middle infielder as “backup” is probably a dead option during the regular season because of short benches.

    The exposure at SS is an injury that forces your Org Depth guy to play for a sustained period….. Gulliorme, Cheech… If Gimmie. If it’s a long break, it forces a trade.

  4. Artie
    January 17, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Depth can also prevent injuries. A guy has a tweak or is tired a good bench can give him a day or two off. A guy with a nagging injury can go on the DL rather than sit onthebech for a week and then come back too soon and tweak the injury again. How many times did the Mets do that?

  5. Pete from NJ
    January 17, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Agreed on the team’s offensive strength. But as far as the SS backup, I don’t think McNeil is the answer and Lowrie is now 35ish and has not played the position in years. I hope Rosario is eating his vegetables.

    I’d like to argue with you on the Detroit Cespedes trade though. Trading Michael Fulmer for a rental was expensive. To illustrate: the Carlos Beltran trade for Zach Wheeler was suppose to be an act of genius for the Mets so then Detroit’s move was an equal act.

    • Bob P
      January 17, 2019 at 5:31 pm

      It was definitely a good trade for Detroit because they got a good pitcher for a player they weren’t going to re-sign. From the Mets perspective it worked out great – it may have been a rental but no way they are in the 2015 WS without Cespedes. Some trades work out on both sides.

      • Brendan Vachris
        January 19, 2019 at 1:54 pm

        Michael Fulmer’s Rookie-of-the-Year 2016 season certainly cast some doubts on the Cespedes trade, but he has since regressed. I was hesitant to talk about the trade in the article but looking at Fulmer’s pre-injury 2018 numbers (4.69 ERA, 4.52 FIP, 7.48 K/9inn) it doesn’t seem like we gave up all that much for an impact bat especially considering our starting pitcher depth at that time.

  6. MattyMets
    January 17, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    A Mike Baxter jersey? Outside of his immediate family, you may possess the only one.

    I agree about Alderson coming up short with depth. He was too focused on the 25 man roster and not enough on the 40. I pointed that out a number of times over the years. Injuries hurt twice as bad when there’s no contingency. Yeah, he stashed Jose Lobaton in AAA last off-season, but we need to do better. The Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers never write off a season to injuries. And it’s not just about budget. They wisely stock their roster so that there is a suitable alternative at every position, not just someone who owns that type of mitt.

    I’d really like to see a Renee Rivera type catcher brought in as a #3. If TDA or Ramos get hurt in ST we’re right back to square one.

    A backup shortstop is a waste of a roster spot when you have a young SS who should play every game. If Rosario needs a day off or gets hurt in game, Lowrie or McNeil can fill in. If he goes on the DL, we call up Guillorme or Checcini. If a serious injury occurs, we make a trade. To me, a backup SS is needed when you have Howard Johnson or Wilmer Flores playing there and you need a defensive replacement or you have 40-year-old Derek Jeter stubbornly refusing to change positions.

    • Brendan Vachris
      January 18, 2019 at 1:34 am

      I have to agree with you on shortstop. If Rosario goes down this team would have to go outside the organization, but indeed at the other positions around the diamond it seems more like a world series type bench than a “cross your fingers” and hope one. Also would love to see a defensive-minded catcher be sitting in Syracuse. Then all this team would need is a corner outfielder from Whitestone who bats left handed and saves no-hitters.

  7. Eraff
    January 17, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Brock Holt started 22 games as ss for the sx

  8. January 17, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    I see a lot of infield depth. . not so much in the outfield. There are really only two major league quality hitters out there at this point. Really hoping neither Nimmo nor Conforto goes down for an extended period of time this year.

    • Jack Strawb
      January 19, 2019 at 11:57 am

      Yeah, it did seem odd to add Lowrie but leave the third OF spot (and the rotation, and the still-thin bullpen) largely unimproved.

      I’m sympathetic to the problem of having the 3rd OF spot without a clear starter for a completely uncertain stretch of time, but at least the Mets prior to whatever Cespedes might contribute now have two good starters and in Lagares, Broxton (4 bWAR in 798 PAs), and JD Davis three good or promising supporting characters. That’s better than making Austin Jackson your starting CFer for something like 1/3 of the season.

      Still, the lack of a star-caliber position player who can compensate for other players faltering, the new weakness at C with Plawecki dealt for very little, the uncertainty at 1B and SS, and the slender bats in CF; then the thin bullpen and starting rotation, all suggest a team that’s going to struggle a lot.

      • TexasGusCC
        January 19, 2019 at 2:02 pm

        Jack, you need a drink with an umbrella in it.

        Every team has weaknesses and they aren’t done. Let’s give him a chance.

        As for the players they gave up that would have gotten them Kluber, tell me what package of those guys would have been good enough, please. And don’t forget, the Indians aren’t rebuilding.

        • Jack Strawb
          January 19, 2019 at 9:12 pm

          Try not to get so upset by straightforward, fact-based comments not addressed to you, diddums. If they cause you write like a 6 year old whose ice cream cone fell on the sidewalk, something’s obviously missing from your character.

          As for Kluber, given the Mets have already traded away 9 players including premium prospects (with more still on the farm), they clearly, easily had enough to get Kluber and to top any other team’s offer. Surely you can follow that?

          • TexasGusCC
            January 20, 2019 at 3:08 am

            Jack, your own words from below:
            “The Mets dealt away more than enough talent to be able to get, say, Corey Kluber, whose past 5 years are actually significantly better than deGrom’s.”

            My straightforward question is who among those mostly low minors kids that they traded away would have been packaged to get Kluber? Remember before you answer, Cleveland wants to win now. Since you are comfortable with straight forward…

            And as for my ice cream cone, all I said is the off season isn’t finished yet and if they pull another move, I’m going to be expecting some fact based comments from you about how wrong you were for critisizing prematurely. Of course to show that you are of strong character and can admit when you jump the gun in the middle of January with CarGo, Parra, Gio, and several pretty good free agents not expecting $30MM per year are still available.

  9. Metsense
    January 17, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    BVW’s off-season moves have given the Mets depth that they haven’t seen in years. Callaway likes to rest his players unlike the former manager TC. There will be many at bats distributed this season. Lowrie will give Rosario his weekly rest. He may have lost a step but he still can turn the DP. The Outfield is very thin ( even in the minors) and some what an “if” with McNeill being pencilled in as the fifth OF.

    • Jack Strawb
      January 19, 2019 at 11:48 am

      “Callaway likes to rest his players unlike the former manager TC.”

      Callaway, perhaps under the orders of to FO, relentlessly played his older and injury-prone and ineffective players into the ground.

      –He played Cespedes in 37 straight games and ended his season except for the one game against the Yankees.
      –He played Bruce something like 50 straight when Bruce was putting up career worst OBPs and SLGs and was clearly injured. He did the same after Bruce returned, driving his OPS down to .800.
      –He played Lagares in 30 of the team’s first 40 games and broke him for the year.
      –He played a struggling, hurting Frazier until he hit the DL for the first time in his career.
      –He overplayed Cabrera, as well. He played Mesoraco, Bautisa, and Jackson far more often than their health, age, and performance warranted, until they became ineffective.

      –Callaway even put McNeil, who had lost most of the previous two years to injury, on pace to play 157 games in the season.

      His record in this regard is demonstrably terrible.

      • TexasGusCC
        January 19, 2019 at 1:59 pm

        Lagares got hurt diving for a catch. Too, in his “playing in 30 games”, he barely had 60 plate appearances. So, how much did he play in some of these games? An inning or two?

        Also, go read the quotes: Callaway was repeatedly asked by reporters about Cespedes coming out of the lineup or Bruce resting. In both cases the player requested a stay. In fact, I recall him giving Cespedes a scheduled rest and Cespedes going into his office and making him change the lineup card.

        Same was true for Cabrera because Cabrera was in his walk year and didn’t want the stigma of being injured affect it. Cabrera wanted to play hurt even though at times he couldn’t run and on defense… LOL, defense… LOL.

        Yes he did overplay Jackson and Bautista for whatever reason, but I don’t see why the FO would want to see those guys unless it’s for evaluation purposes.

  10. TexasGusCC
    January 18, 2019 at 2:11 am

    Many times this off season we have seen that Brodie likes to lie in the weeds and pounce. There are a couple of relievers left that I’d find acceptable, but he maybe holding back the moolah in case Pollock comes to his senses.

    As for the depth, I hope so because I saw that Lagares only had 21 plate appearances in winter ball and he needs alot more than that! I get the “don’t get injured in your walk year” stuff, but this guy needs at bats. Unless Cespedes really does come back in July, then, we can mix and match for three months. Otherwise, our outfield depth will be McNeil, Broxton, JD Davis and Smith. It may work, but cross them fingers tightly. I’m not putting much stock in Rajai and Gregor.

    • Brendan Vachris
      January 19, 2019 at 1:42 pm

      Brodie Van Wagenen does seem to have been working the market. Despite his recent comments about the team’s aggressiveness in the offseason, he certainly has been smart with his limited budget. The below market signs of Wilson Ramos and Jed Lowrie illustrate this. Perhaps he does have a cheap deal for Pollock in the works.

  11. NYM6986
    January 18, 2019 at 7:34 am

    This is certainly the most depth the Mets have had since ‘86 but they still lack a bat that teams will fear and they can’t wait on Cespedes’ return or they may find themselves mired in 4th place. Our starting staff could be amazing if healthy and we have bolstered the pen. Think BVW will pull off another substantial trade packaging some players who are expendable due to recent additions like Lagares, Smith, tDa, and Frazier whose contract is moveable. I too would like to see a strong defensive backup to Ramos like a Nido who can hit a bit. Overall very encouraged to get the season underway. #LGM

  12. Jack Strawb
    January 19, 2019 at 11:40 am

    The absurdity of the Wilpons’ offseason is highlighted by the failure to provide any meaningful depth where it was most desperately needed: the rotation.

    The 2018 Mets gave 76 starts to pitchers with below league average ERAs as starters. The Dodgers had 3 such starts. The Astros had 1. And yet the Wilpons did almost nothing to change this.

    The Mets dealt away an enormous amount of talent without actually adding a desperately needed starter to the rotation or a starting position player at a position of need. How is that possible? The Mets dealt away more than enough talent to be able to get, say, Corey Kluber, whose past 5 years are actually significantly better than deGrom’s. Instead, the 2019 Mets will be unable to weather even one of their top 3 starters faltering for a half season. They’re also, absurdly, counting on Zack Wheeler, whose ERA was over 4 for much of 2018, to turn into the ace he pitched like for 2/5ths of a season over the last 6 years.

    This was a team that could rather easily have been added to, to create a 90 win true talent team. Instead of adding frontline talent, though, they strangely went the “depth” route. That increases the likelihood they’ll win 85 games but does very little to drive them towards the postseason.

    That last sentence probably tells us everything we needed to know. The three guys running team found it far more in their interests to field a team that would be “competitive,” rather than “contending.”

    Shouldn’t surprise us. After all, in his first major interview, with Francessa, BVW quickly defaulted from the word “contention” to “competitive.” What’s that saying, about listening to what someone actually says–since so often they’ll tell you very specifically what they are and what they’re doing? We were warned.

    • January 19, 2019 at 12:14 pm

      I absolutely agree that Kluber would have been a better target than Cano/Diaz.

      But I think you’re missing the boat on your description of Wheeler. The ERA was dreadful for the first half of the year because of two lousy starts early on when he gave up 14 ER in 10 IP.

      1st 7 starts – 5.92 ERA
      2nd 7 starts – 3.92 ERA
      3rd 7 starts – 2.17 ERA
      Final 8 starts 1.96 ERA

      His final 22 starts he had a 2.62 ERA. I’m going to count on a guy who finishes strong and who pitched well for the final 3/4 of the season. And his 2.88 FIP in this frame supports that ERA.

  13. January 20, 2019 at 9:58 am

    I’ll take it that the Plawecki deal is a reflection of Confidence in Nido and a decent return by d’Arnaud….and they must really like Davis. I’m hopeful that they may have opinions on player and knowledge that I do not Have!!!

    As for Jack’s opinion that the Bullpen is Unimproved….. Diaz, JF, Lugo, Gazelle…… some younger arms and guys who perk up. I don’t see a built in failure.

    Of their strong opinions, they may believe that the super utility types will cover both their IF and OF rotations.

    Two final Points—I agree with Gus that they are not done yet. Beyond that, a team should never feel “Finished”….not on January 19, and not on May 19th either. They’ve kept and gathered assets. They’ve been incredibly active and they have certainly taken some very strong positions on players on both sides of their trasactions.

    I like their off season a lot. There is no “perfect”, but this feels very different. I’m optimistic!

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