2018 TOPPS HERITAGE MARK VIENTOS
Mark Vientos hit two homers in a Spring Training game against the Marlins today, which made me search for one of his cards. This Heritage card jumped out to me, with its ultra-tight shot of Vientos. But what really caught my eye was the double yellow combination. The big circle is yellow and the name METS is also in yellow, too. It didn’t seem right.
My first instinct was that Topps didn’t do that yellow-yellow combo in the original 1969 set But that turned out not to be true. The set started with the previous year’s leaders. But the very first individual player was the Tigers’ Mickey Stanley, who got the yellow-yellow treatment. And card #18, Cardinals infielder Dick Schoefield, also got the double yellow.
Of course, the Mets cards in the ’69 set had a purple circle, not yellow. While the Vientos card had his last name in red, the original ’69 Mets cards had the player’s last name in yellow. So, there was a type of double yellow going on. But not this … gauche.
Brandon Nimmo’s card in this Heritage set had the familiar purple circle. Turns out there’s a variety of Vientos with the purple, too. But the version featured here is the “Minors Blue” version. A nice little reminder why I stopped collecting around the turn of the century.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about Vientos. It seems to me the Mets aren’t being exactly fair to him. Do the Mets have a fiduciary responsibility to guys they drafted? In a cold, bottom line view – they do not. Yet it doesn’t seem right with the ways things are unfolding.
Assuming that Pete Alonso stays with the Mets, this is Vientos’ best shot to establishing himself in the majors with the team that drafted him. He could have been the backup 1B and the righty part of the DH platoon. Instead, they went out and signed Tommy Pham, despite the fact that he’s old, lousy and can’t really play CF. The Pham signing likely blocks Vientos from making the Opening Day roster. The Mets will have four reserves and we know that Pham, Luis Guillorme and Tomas Nido will be three of them.
My feeling is that the club really wants Darin Ruf to be the fourth bench piece. But Ruf has been slowed by a wrist injury and has yet to play a game in the Grapefruit League season. Maybe the door’s not shut on Vientos after all.
We all know Spring Training stats are meaningless. But Vientos has a 1.047 OPS while Pham has yet to have a hit.
Before we think that the Ruf injury opens the door for Vientos, we have to consider it might be another rookie who gets the nod, instead. Brett Baty has had a great time with the bat in Florida, too, and the consensus is that he’s a much better fielder at third base than Vientos.
In 2024 and beyond, it seems like Baty and Ronny Mauricio have a brighter future with the Mets than Vientos. This is the last year that Vientos has any edge. That edge is that he already has a full season at Triple-A, while Baty and Mauricio do not.
If the Mets cared about such things, they would have looked for a role immediately for Vientos, trying to get him established in the majors as a 250-PA player this year. Instead, we’ll get treated to Pham in that role. On an optimistic day, my thoughts wonder if they’d release Pham if he gets off to a Robinson Cano-like start in 2023. A boy can dream.
It’s not my way to run a team, to prefer a declining veteran who was last good three years ago on another team. And while it’s a drop in the bucket, Pham’s salary offends me, too. It would have been a much better allocation of resources to sign a veteran reliever with that money, whether that be Andrew Chafin or the just-signed Brad Hand.
Here’s hoping Vientos takes those blue borders and that yellow circle and forces his way onto the 2023 Mets sooner rather than later.