For a team that has a sordid history of injury concerns, the Mets may need to call on their bench a lot more than they have to this year. Given the options they have available to them, is this a unit most Mets’ fans should feel comfortable with?
Let’s breakdown each player individually:
Justin Turner: Turner turned heads when he was called up last April. He was an instant hit as he was consistently driving in runs with countless clutch hits. However, Turner eventually came back to reality and finished the season with a modest .260/.334/.356 line for a .690 OPS. Turner is what he is: a solid hitter who can play multiple infield positions in a pinch.
Mike Nickeas: Nickeas comes into the 2012 season with a career .190/.246/.254 line, so you can basically deduce why Nickeas is expected to be the backup catcher and that would be because of his defense. Nickeas is well liked among the clubhouse and has a great rapport with the pitching staff. Nickeas is only good for his defense and if the team has to depend on him for an extended period of time they are in trouble.
Ronny Cedeno: Cedeno is yet another bench player whose main asset is his defense. Cedeno is a versatile middle infielder who can easily play both second base and shortstop. But with a career .246/.297/.339 line, Cedeno will pose no threat with his bat.
Scott Hairston: If healthy, Hairston is one player on the Mets’ bench who has the ability to go deep at a moment’s notice (just ask Brian Wilson of the Giants). However, Hairston has not shown the consistency to be a trusted option off the bench. Hairston is a career .244 hitter and considering his injury history, he can’t be considered a reliable option off the bench.
Mike Baxter: Ah yes the local product from Whitestone, Queens. Outside of the feel good vibes he generated when he was called up in August of 2011, Baxter has not demonstrated he has advanced tools to succeed in this game. In 42 career at-bats, Baxter has compiled a .214 batting average with only four RBI’s to his credit. Sure, the sample size is small, but nothing in Baxter’s game screams upside.
Adam Loewen: Admittedly, I don’t know too much about this pitcher-turned-outfielder. Loewen is a peculiar case though, as he has impressed the club with his ability to drive the ball this spring with power. However, so far this spring Loewen already has 17 strikeouts among his 33 at-bats. That stat should be major cause for concern.
As you can see, the track record of the players counted on to be productive bench options for the Mets don’t exactly inspire confidence.
If the Mets have to put many of its players on the DL this year (think Andres Torres, Scott Hairston and David Wright who are currently hurt and Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and Jason Bay who have a history of missing a bulk of games), then the ramifications could be far reaching.
If that were to occur, then a youth movement could be expedited with the club looking to Jordany Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt Den Dekker, Reece Havens and Josh Satin as possible options to jumpstart the franchise.
The play of the bench will likely play a vital factor on how the Mets progress this year and as a franchise for the coming years. For now, there is just not a lot of hope pinned on the the bench.
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