As an overabundance of Michael Bourn rumors float around in the minds of Mets fans everywhere, the team will see pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than a week.

Pending any new additions, the Mets have spots on the opening day roster available, which should create healthy competition between players for the open jobs.

Which spots are up for grabs? Who is most likely to earn the illustrious start on opening day?

Today we’ll look at the competition for the most gruelling position on the field, catcher.

The Mets received John Buck as one of the pieces in the R.A. Dickey trade and he will likely to be the opening day starter for New York.

Buck had a career year for the Blue Jays in 2010, which earned him a nice three-year contract with the Marlins. After a so-so ‘11 where he hit .227/.316/.367 and added 16 home runs and 57 RBI, the veteran backstop struggled last season hitting .192/.297/.347. Not the kind of numbers a team would expect from someone earning $6 million. Miami flipped him to Toronto in the 12-player blockbuster headlined by Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson. Toronto had no use for him so they ate a big chunk of his salary and included him in the deal for Dickey.

It looks as if Buck’s seniority, experience with handling a pitching staff and power potential should earn him the starting nod, but nothing is set in stone. We all know that players are lost to injury or can stink it up so bad in spring that their chance at the opening day gig flies out the window and they wind up riding the pine, collecting splinters from their behinds.

Anthony Recker is the favourite to win the back-up catching job. The 29-year old split last season between the A’s and Cubs, but didn’t do much with the bat hitting .167/.286/.389. He’ll have to earn the job and he has some competition.

The Mets have non-roster invites Landon Powell and Juan Centeno and Travis d’Arnaud – one of the top prospects in baseball – vying for a spot on the team, so the competition should be stiff.

The catching job will eventually go to d’Arnaud. The seat is just being kept warm for him, but unless he completely tears the cover off the ball in spring, he will probably start the season in Las Vegas.

Centeno has never played above Double-A and doesn’t seem to have a good chance at making the Major League club, although stranger things have happened and he could be a diamond in the rough amongst the Mets’ NRIs.

In my opinion, the real battle in spring training for the back-up spot is between Recker and Powell.

Powell has the most MLB experience of those vying for the back-up job. He has better career offensive numbers (.207/.284/.328) than his competition. He has some pop in his bat (10 HR) and he is less than a year older than Recker.

He could be the best of the options in camp, unless the team is willing to give d’Arnaud the shot.

Recker is currently projected to start the season as the Mets’ back-up catcher, but he isn’t a sure thing, d’Arnaud has the most upside, but may need time, Centeno is a long shot and Powell may be the one that everyone has forgotten about.

It should make for an interesting competition and should be one to watch this spring. Keep your eyes on it.

13 comments on “Backup backstop battle: Anthony Recker v. Landon Powell

  • Name

    The fact that Recker is already on the 40 man gives him a huge leg up.
    Since offensive stats in Spring Training are moot, unless Powell makes some sort of rapport with the pitchers that Recker doesn’t(and it has to be visible in the coach’s eyes), it is the only way that anyone has a chance of beating Recker out.

  • steevy

    Powell seems to have more potential as an offensive player,he and Recker both throw well at least.Centeno hit .285 in AA last year.

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  • Pete

    Hey Bryan. I don’t see any information in regards to Toronto eating a large chunk of Buck’s salary(or any amount for that matter). Cot’s has his 6 million dollars for the coming season listed on the Mets payroll with no partial payments from the Blue Jays.

    • Metsense

      That is what I read also. Recker also had a .793 OPS at AAA with 9 HRS in 244 AB last year. He also can play 1B. My money is on Recker.

    • Name

      They didn’t actually eat any of his salary. The Mets took on Buck because the Jays said they were already pushing their budget limit. Dickey + Thole’s salary = Buck’s salary, so it was an equal swap of money.

  • Degree Absolute

    I like Recker to be the backup out of spring training. He showed some pop in the minors and a solid walk rate. His defense seems pretty respectable as well. Hopefully he pans out and makes Buck expendable when D’Arnaud is given the starting job.

    Alderson’s Mets kind of give off a Major League vibe to me. I am ready see how this all pans out. It should be a fun season either way.

  • Pete

    I think its the other way around. Bryan stated that the Blue Jays were eating a large chunk of Buck’s salary in order for the Mets to take him. So while your statement is correct it doesn’t pertain to what the author claims.

  • Bryan Mcwilliam

    The Mets took on Buck’s salary in the deal in order to get both d’Arnaud and Syndergaard.

    That was a poor edit of my own article. That should have read ate a big chunk of salary, not his salary.

    Sorry folks.

  • Pete

    No need to apologize.I just thought maybe the Blue Jays had given the Mets some incentive on the deal. Besides it’s only for one season.

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