Non-roster invitees seldomly push aside established guys during Spring Training but you wonder how tempted the Mets might be this year.
I’m thinking specifically of the reserve roles in the infield and behind the plate, where it would seem either one of Johnny Monell or Daniel Muno might not be a bad idea, given the unique makeup of the club otherwise.
I didn’t give much thought to Monell when the Mets acquired him as a minor league free agent in November. But his left-handed power and 393/433/750/1.183 line in a handful of Spring at-bats was intriguing enough to make me take a second look, only to discover that he’s a Met Legacy: His father, Johnny Sr., was an outfielder in the Mets system for six years in the 80s, reaching as high as Class AAA Tidewater. Johnny Jr. was also once drafted by the Mets but chose not to sign; his road here included cups of coffee with the Giants and Orioles.
From what I’ve read (and heard) defense isn’t Johnny’s strong suit and his very aggressive approach might not fit with the club’s philosophy, but, look: If he hits 200 points less than he’s doing now, remains a so-so defender, and still provides the occasional thump, you’ve got Anothny Recker, only a left-handed version, and given the Mets’ prevailing righthandedness, that might be a useful thing to have. Can he fake it as an emergency third baseman or outfielder? Maybe then you can carry both.
The other guy on my mind is Muno, who snuck up on me by virtue of being assigned a Spring Training number (74) 10 digits higher than the one he had last year. Like Monell, Muno is a lefty (actually a switch-hitter) in a pack of righties vying for a backup infield job (Ruben Tejada, Matt Reynolds, Eric Campbell, etc). Daniel Murphy‘s injury could in fact exacerbate that need.
Muno’s also having a solid spring, hitting .400 although in a very small sample, and unlike Monell, is a guy whose approach at the plate is appropriately Sandy: A career .395 OBPer in four minor league seasons, and began to show some power last year with 14 home runs in Las Vegas. Plays three positions. Switch hits. Gets on base. That’s a good guy to have on your team. Trade in that lineman’s number for … how about the vacant No. 1.
Whether either of these guys would be worth risking a Recker or Tejada on simply to have in hand when the bell rings is something for the suits to decide but I would hope they’re thinking about it. I remain pretty bullish on the 2015 Mets.