It’s weird the things we miss when they’re no longer available to us. Paul McCartney was asked about this after Beatlemania hit and he responded about riding a bus. This morning we got to do something that we typically do every day at this time but haven’t been able to do in four months – look at a box score. On a Sunday morning, there are usually 15 box scores to examine. My only view this morning was the Mets-Yankees game but it felt like as much time was spent on that one as usually is spent on 15.
It was a rush to read it, too.
The Mets used seven regulars yesterday, missing only Wilson Ramos and Jeff McNeil. The cardboard cutouts standing in for fans no doubt were very happy that they didn’t pay top dollar to see a Double-A lineup, which is frequently the case in Spring Training games. The Mets lost, which normally would have been a downer but it didn’t matter one bit.
There batting leadoff was Brandon Nimmo. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, that’s where he should be. There’s been talk about batting McNeil there, and as he wasn’t around we can’t completely shake the idea that they’ll screw up this particular layup. McNeil wouldn’t be a bad choice to bat first. It’s just that Nimmo is better. He finished the game with a hit, a SB and a run scored. Seems odd that there wasn’t a walk in there, too, but maybe he’s just not in midseason form, yet.
In the second spot was Pete Alonso. There’s a good case to be made to bat Alonso second but it seems like he’ll bat lower once the games start. Maybe it’s as simple as batting McNeil second and moving everyone else down a spot. We’ll see. Regardless, Alonso had two hits and an RBI. Few expect him to repeat – on a prorated basis – last year’s 53 HR season. After hitting 49 HR as a rookie in 1987, Mark McGwire hit 32 in a similar number of PA in 1988. Aaron Judge went from 52 to 27, but he had significantly fewer trips to the plate. Let’s hope we see an uptick in walks, singles and doubles for Alonso.
There’s an old joke about there originally being 20 Commandments but Moses dropped one of the tablets. No doubt the 11th Commandment was, “thou shall bat Robinson Cano third.” Maybe this is where he belongs. There’s a school of thought in lineup construction that instead of batting your best hitter third, you put the guy there that doesn’t fit anywhere else. But for those of us who grew up on the best hitter bats third logic, it’s tough to see Cano there. It feels like he should hit sixth or lower but there’s probably little chance that happens. Anyway, Cano went hitless but did score a run.
It was with great satisfaction to see Yoenis Cespedes batting cleanup. Not even the horrible DH designation after his name could wipe out the good feeling. After all of the missed time the past few years, it feels like the universe owes us a big season from Cespedes. He’s not close to being the most important guy for the team from a production standpoint. But from an emotional standpoint, he might be. Shoot, from a fun standpoint, he might be, too. Can’t wait to see those fluorescent yellow sleeves in the batter’s box and those underhanded throws from the outfield. Cespedes went hitless in the game.
In the fifth slot was Michael Conforto. This feels like the right spot for him. Maybe if he’s not hitting in the glamour spots of third or fourth, he can somehow relax and deliver the .900 OPS season that everyone knows he has in him. Conforto had a nice game with a double and a walk.
Batting sixth was J.D. Davis in left field. This is where he was expected to play this season but with McNeil out, it was at least a tiny bit curious that they didn’t have him at third base. Davis is supposedly working out at both positions, to be ready to be used wherever the team needs him. Of course, his best position is as hitter. He had a double and an RBI in the game. And Davis’ spring/summer camp slash line is a thing of beauty — .313/.368/.625
Hitting seventh was Amed Rosario. A lot of people speculated that Rosario might bat ninth in a lineup with a DH, giving the team the second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the order. Not a fan of that idea, so was pleased to see him higher in the lineup. We still don’t know how Rosario’s career is going to unfold. Gus has mentioned Xander Bogaerts as a comp more than once and that’s a better thing to shoot for than a ninth-place hitter. Rosario had a triple and a run scored.
Replacing McNeil in the lineup at third base was Max Moroff, who slotted eighth in the lineup. It was interesting that he got the start over Eduardo Nunez, who seemed to have a better Spring Training. Nunez did come in the game later and get a hit. Moroff went 0-for-3 with a K and made two errors. He didn’t exactly impress in this game.
Tomas Nido got the start at catcher and hit ninth, getting a single in two trips to the plate. Rene Rivera came on and replaced Nido. It would be interesting if the team had the ability to choose which player the DH was for, if the Mets would pick one of its pitchers to place in the lineup on the days that Nido or Rivera were giving Ramos a day off.
The Mets used seven different pitchers in the game. Rick Porcello gave up six hits, including a home run, in five innings and took the loss. Jeurys Familia and Dellin Betances each had strong outings, which was nice to read. Justin Wilson came on in the bottom of the seventh and retired the last batter of the inning, so he was able to have a one-batter appearance. Edwin Diaz was unable to get out of the ninth inning but no doubt Luis Rojas talked about how happy the club is with his performance and how great his stuff was. At some point we’ll be allowed to be worried about Diaz but five days before the games count doesn’t seem to be the case.
Welcome back baseball – we missed you!