Bench a weak spot for the Mets

Do the names Justin Turner, Mike Nickeas, Ronny Cedeno, Scott Hairston (if healthy) and either Mike Baxter or Adam Loewen excite you?

Me neither.

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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5 comments for “Bench a weak spot for the Mets

  1. Marc
    March 24, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Should be Valdy, Wimberly, Satin, Nickeas and Loewen.

  2. Metsense
    March 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    The Met bench was constructed, hopefully, because of financial restraints this past winter. The Mets needed a backup right handed hitting catcher to spell Thole. A left handed power hitting OF to platoon with Bay and therefore on those days Bay would be the right handed power hitting pinch hitter. A strong defensive OF to be a late inning replacement for Duda and possibly a backup for Torres. A power hitting corner IF to be used primarily as a pinch hitter. A strong defensive middle infielder to spell Tejada and replace Murphy in late innings. IMO power off the bench is important late in a game in order to catch up and defensive replacements are used for suspect defenders so that leads can be preserved. This is the purpose of a good bench. Cedeno was the only one they got right. Oh well, maybe next year. Anyway, Let’s Go Mets.

  3. Dan Stack
    March 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I agree Metsense.

    The bench was constructed because of the financial issues facing the squad. That’s why they didn’t go for a guy like Ankiel.

    • Metsense
      March 25, 2012 at 8:13 am

      I think Ankiel was an affordable replacement (he signed a minor league contract) but Endy Chavez, the much better player, was the “unaffordable” one.

  4. Brian Joura
    March 25, 2012 at 10:28 am

    If all players are healthy, I’d rather have Hairston than Ankiel or Chavez. Over the last three years, Ankiel has a .235/.297/.378 line in 1,059 PA. That’s a .675 OPS. The Mets had a guy last year who played CF and was four years younger than Ankiel who put up a .679 OPS and they didn’t think he was worth bringing back — Jason Pridie.

    As for Chavez, he had the second-best year of his career last year but if you look at his numbers it was very Justin Turner-like in that he had one crazy month where he had a .995 OPS and then he fell off from there.

    If we just break it down pre and post All-Star break, here are Chavez’ numbers:

    Pre — .330/.366/.528
    Post – .280/.293/.353

    His 2nd half OPS of .646 is not too far off his career OPS of .686

    Even with a rotten .264 BABIP last year, Hairston put up a .773 OPS. That’s better than what Chavez did with a .321 BABIP

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