Jay Bruce wasn’t gone long enough to even reissue his number 19, but speculation as to his uni is the least of my questions this morning.
It seems more than possible that given the shaky defense as constructed and a potentially crowded outfield again the Mets signed Bruce to a three-year contract not to patrol right field but to play first base, and that their extra outfielder (Nimmo or Lagares); and Dominic Smith, the young first baseman with a tenuous hold on his job, could be their on their ways out. I’m just making this up, but could two of them go in a trade for someone else’s center fielder? That would seem to make sense from a number of angles, and if that center fielder in question happens to be Andrew McCutcheon, well that’s convenient too in that he and Smith both rock No. 22.
I’m as excited as the next guy about feeding the big-league club with our own seedlings but Major League first basemen are especially hard things to develop in captivity. Maybe it’s been done before but you wouldn’t want to bet on a first baseman who may or may not be capable of contributing at the big-league level and also compete — just think about how long it took Lucas Duda to establish himself, and even then…
The other question the Mets need to ask themselves is if Smith works out, how good can he be? There’s little doubt the guy is capable of good on-base percentage and line drive hitting — there are worse skills to have and I’m not suggesting the Mets couldn’t use that — but if it all adds up to a career like James Loney and not like, say, Joey Votto, is it worth the investment? We’re more assured to have another young guy in the lineup everyday in Rosario anyway, and if we manage to hang onto Brandon Nimmo, we’ll get the seeming skill set of Smith anyhow.
If Sandy Alderson is thinking along with me, he just signed his regular first baseman and will very shortly be sending Smith to Pittsburgh in a Uni Swap. Perhaps Nimmo or (my preference) Lagares go along with him, but one of those two also gets moved shortly, if not in a Pirates deal to a loser in the Lorenzo Cain sweepstakes.
Oh, and welcome back, Jay. Thoughts?
Hey, have you checked out the new book yet? Here’s a Q&A I did recently about the site, the book, and other stuff with Diane Firstman at her site, Value Over Replacement Grit.
Also my friend Sam from Rising Apple had me on as a guest in his podcast this week. Our chat, with fellow Met historian geeks Mike and Rich, might still be going on but I had to feed the cats.
I’m trying to keep up hopes up over tonight’s game and the the entire season, but Juan Lagares just hit into a double play. Rats.
So there’s Travis d’Arnaud, aka “Shoeless Aud,” wearing his new No. 7 jersey. Could you also see him in a new lineup position?
Let me begin by saying I’m generally if not wildly optimistic for the Mets chances this year. I like the additions of Cuddyer and Mayberry. I believe that David Wright could still rebound, and I think Wilmer Flores is a bold choice in a year where offense is going to be hard to find. I think a solid starting staff and bullpen might be constructed just from what *doesn’t* make the opening-day roster this year. That’s all very encouraging.
Where I’m concerned is that they don’t really have an ideal leadoff hitter, and I worry especially that they’ll try to shoehorn Juan Lagares into that role. It’s not that I don’t believe Lagares could ever become a leadoff guy (though I have doubts), it’s that given his low walk rates and seeming luck on balls-in-play (he BABIPped at 340 vs. a league average of 300) I’d prefer he demonstrate whatever nascent leadoff skills he possesses as a 7th or 8th place hitter and let someone generally more qualified garner the extra trips and run-building opportunities that come with the role.
I’m not arguing that Travis d’Arnaud should be a leadoff hitter either, but I might be tempted to try him there sooner than I would Lagares. His walk rate is better and BABIP ought to improve, and his superior extra-base power could get us some early leads in road games, which I’d prefer over whatever advantage you might realize from Lagares’ stolen bases. Actually the club would seem to favor Curtis Granderson (or let’s face it, Kirk Nieuwenhuis) leading off, but I can see the argument for getting Grandy’s bat more in the mix off all those middle-of-the-order righties – yet another consequence of the Mets not having gathered in a lefthanded hitting shortstop over the offseason.
Who leads off for your 2015 Mets?