People love to say things which they think makes them appear smart. One of those is that Spring Training stats don’t matter. And on the surface, that’s true. It doesn’t matter if Player X is hitting .300 or Player Y has a 0.00 ERA. But there are things that are important and one of those is who’s getting playing time. And that’s especially true for guys who don’t have a spot on the roster guaranteed. It doesn’t mean anything that Brandon Nimmo won’t make his debut until today. It means something when you see all of the playing time that Luke Voit has been given.

Last year in Spring Training, the club wanted to see the Baby Mets and with several players away with the WBC, they got even more chances than they might otherwise. All four of those players had at least 33 ABs, with Brett Baty getting 40 and Mark Vientos getting 54, which led the team. Baty ended Grapefruit League games with an .885 OPS, with Vientos finished with a .791 OPS. But their success in Florida didn’t translate into success in the majors in 2023.

Which brings us to Spring Training 2024. Again, both are among the leaders in playing time. Neither one is having the success early on that they enjoyed in Florida last year. But that’s not necessarily damning. Certainly, Baty’s strikeouts – 5 Ks in 13 ABs – are a concern. We entered Spring Training thinking that Baty would get most of the playing time this year at 3B, while Vientos would be in the mix for playing time at both 3B and DH. But what they do in Grapefruit League play could alter that estimate, at least in terms of Opening Day assignment. And that would certainly mean something.

A PITCHER CONSPICUOUS BY HIS ABSENCE – With the injury to Kodai Senga, there’s a rotation spot up for grabs, at least for the first month of the season, if not longer. The front office did not change its tone as far as adding a pitcher from the top of the free agent market. And it also indicated that none of the pitchers from the BNG club last year would be under consideration. Which meant that the three healthy depth starters would be the primary challengers.

Both Jose Butto and Tylor Megill have seen action in two games and pitched well. Megill leads the team with 5 IP and also has 0 BB and 7 Ks. Butto hasn’t given up a run or walk in his three innings and also has three whiffs. But we’ve yet to see Joey Lucchesi this Spring and he’s not listed among the five pitchers listed to perform here on Sunday. Neither Rotowire nor Rotoworld – which are aggregators for news on players – have any notes about an injury. had an article on 2/24 about how Lucchesi had lost 19 pounds and the work he had done with an holistic therapist. But nothing on why he might not appear in early Grapefruit League action.

THE STRIKEOUT BREEZE CONTINUES – Former first round pick DJ Stewart made quite the impression with a hot streak in the second half of 2023. While it didn’t quite reach six weeks, Stewart had a 1.133 OPS over 94 PA from 8/15-9/15 last year. But in his final 41 PA, Stewart had a .332 OPS with 15 Ks, which is a 36.6 K%. This year in Spring Training games, Stewart has fanned four times in 14 PA, for a 31.2 K%. It’s one thing if you’re posting a 30% K rate if you’re delivering power. But combining the closing stretch to 2023 along with what he’s done so far this Spring, Stewart has just five hits and they are all singles.

THE BATTLE AMONG RELIEVERS ON THE 40-MAN WHO ARE OUT OF OPTIONS – There was an article by Tim Britton in The Athletic yesterday which listed 18 relievers battling for a spot on the Opening Day roster. Britton considered six spots in the bullpen already locked down, although $2 million contracts aside, why either Jorge Lopez or Drew Smith should be considered that way is a head-scratcher. Regardless, assuming Britton’s speculation is accurate, that means the Mets will have to expose at least two of four relievers who are out of options to waivers. The four hurlers are Phil Bickford, Yohan Ramirez, Sean Reid-Foley and Michael Tonkin.

Ramirez and Reid-Foley have both appeared in two games so far, with Tonkin scheduled to pitch in his second game today. Those three have yet to give up a run. Bickford, who defeated the Mets in an arbitration hearing earlier this offseason, has yet to pitch in a game this Spring. It’s certainly possible that Bickford and Lucchesi are seeing time in minor league games. Although any of us in their shoes would be getting antsy to see time in Grapefruit League action.

METS ANNOUNCE FIRST WAVE OF CUTS – Early Sunday, the Mets announced 10 players being either reassigned or optioned to minor league camp. The list included a bunch of top prospects, including Luisangel Acuna, Drew Gilbert and Jett Williams. One name not included is Alex Ramirez. Just to state the obvious, Ramirez has zero chance to make the Opening Day roster. But he’s done enough that the Mets rewarded him with an extended stay in major league camp.

There are now 58 players on the roster that the Mets released this morning, with two of those being Senga and David Peterson, who are both on the 60-day IL. There are nine outfielders still in camp, so it’s not like the Mets kept Ramirez because they needed coverage at the position. Among players who’ve yet to make their MLB debut, Ramirez is one of two hitters still in camp, with the other being Hayden Senger. A defensive-first backstop, this is Senger’s age-27 season. There are also two pitchers remaining who’ve yet to make their MLB debut – Dominic Hamel and Nate Lavender.

7 comments on “Lots of playing time for Brett Baty and Mark Vientos but not so much for Phil Bickford and Joey Lucchesi

  • Metstabolism

    Let’s start with: we’re just 9 games into a 30-game ST sked. Not much concerns me this early on. While I have no idea why Lucchesi hasn’t seen action yet, there’s still enough time for him to get in 4 or 5 spring starts if he gets into his first game within the next few days. And its not like this will be resolved by OD. None of the candidates is established, and all have options remaining. I expect this to be a revolving door, with all of them having their ups and downs.

    Not surprised about DJ Stewart. I did not believe his hot stretch was sustainable for him, but think he deserves a chance to show us one way or the other. 1) He still has time to straighten things out and get hot. 2) the guys chasing him for a roster spot – Choi, Voit (and possibly Short?) are not hitting either. 3) he does have options.

    And I still think keeping Ramirez around may be about getting him some work against more advanced pitching than he’d seen in A-ball in order to better prep him for a move up to AA. The clock is running on his options, and there is not time to waste waiting a full season for him to get acclimated to AA.

    • Brian Joura

      There are 22 games left over 20 days, as there are two days with split squads. Five games for Lucchesi at this point seems unlikely and even four might be pushing it, unless they are going to have him on a schedule as a relief pitcher, and pitch after just two or so days off, which seems unlikely. They can piggyback starters, which makes it possible for all seven SP to get work in.

      I assume he’s been pitching in minor league games, which means even if he gets just three Grapefruit League games in, he can go 3 then 4 then 5 innings and be pretty much ready to take a spot in the rotation. But as someone who thinks that Lucchesi has gotten the short stick from the organization, this seems like another example of the Mets giving preferential treatment to Megill over Lucchesi.

      Of course, there could be an injury in play, which would take preferential treatment in this instance off the table. But it would also mean that he wasn’t pitching in minor league games, meaning he’s unlikely to get the work in to be ready for Opening Day. Either way, it would be nice to know why he hasn’t had a Grapefruit League appearance yet.

      I’m sure that regardless of what happens in Spring Training, that all of the depth starters will get a shot this year. I just don’t want that shot to be like last year, when Megill got 25 starts with a 4.70 ERA, while Lucchesi got 9 starts at a 2.89 ERA.

      • Metstabolism

        If Lucchesi were to start a game tomorrow, and appear again every five days – not games – he would get five starts in. As for piggybacking, thats easily done this time of year since the starters are not stretched out yet.
        I wouldn’t dwell on last year. Last year was a different set of circumstances. Lucchesi was a huge question mark coming off of his terrible TJ rehab at the end of ’22, and Butto was completely unproven, and frankly, unready for MLB play at the start of the year. Once they did get called up, they both struggled in their earlier appearances. But both got better as the season went on. The deserve more of a look now, not sure that they did last spring.

        • Brian Joura

          It’s theoretically possible, which is why I said “unlikely” instead of “impossible.” If you’d like to wager on it, please let me know.

  • TexasGusCC

    My sleeper pick to make the team is Trace Thompson over DJ Stewart.

    • Metstabolism

      Its very plausible. Stewart’s option makes him vulnerable if he doesn’t hit in ST – and so far, he hasn’t. Then again, there’s the Sandy Alderson philosophy: if you go with Stewart and he flops, you can turn to Thompson and still retain Stewart by optioning him. If you go with Thompson first and he flops, you can call up Stewart but.. you lose Thompson as depth via DFA.

      • Brian Joura

        Stewart and Thompson are the type of guys who are available every year, as both signed with the Mets on minor league deals. If the Mets go with Thompson and he flops – that’s pretty much the expectation. I’m all for giving him a shot but I lose zero sleep if they have to DFA him and he goes to another organization. I think he’s a better bet than Stewart, but it’s not like Thompson is a great defender, which might give him a leg up with Stearns.

        I’d rather see Zack Short or Ji Man Choi than either of them.

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