Mets Holes Still Go Way Beyond Just Shortstop
With less than two weeks until Opening Day, the New York Mets don’t have a shortstop or a first baseman, and the identity of an Opening Day pitcher is still uncertain.
Shortstop Ruben Tejada’s struggles (and “struggles” is a mild description at this point) are well documented already, and yet, by default, he still appears to be the leading candidate to open the season at that spot.
There’s still no indication who might start at first base. The Mets hoped to use Spring Training as a proving ground to choose between Lucas Duda and Ike Davis as their first baseman. In truth, since the team probably isn’t thrilled with either option, they were actually intending to use Spring Training to determine which of the two big lefties to trade, release or option out at the end of the spring. But that competition has yet to get off the ground, as each candidate has been hurt and unable to play in spring games for the last couple of weeks.
It seems likely that right-handed hitter Josh Satin might end up as the right half of a platoon with either Duda or Davis, and, at this point, Satin might even see more than just platoon time. First off, Satin is actually a consistent hitter for average, and he could be trusted with a lineup position for the short term. In the long term, Satin’s lack of power or athleticism would become a problem. Right now, the Mets have power at only two positions—third base and right field—and they desperately need a first baseman who can give them 25-plus home runs. Failing that, they’d need Chris Young to break out with a 25-30 home run season in the outfield.
And, with Jon Niese enduring his second setback of the spring, his chances of being on the mound on Opening Day—even if there is no “structural damage” and even if the Mets talk themselves into believing Niese will be ready by the second week of the season—are practically zero. That leaves Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee as the most logical options, since the Mets don’t seem inclined to entrust sophomore Zack Wheeler—who has better stuff than either Colon or Gee—with the Opening Day responsibilities.
They also still have to figure out one rotation spot—and maybe two, if Niese is out for longer than they are projecting right now. Daisuke Matsusaka, John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia are all candidates. Perhaps rookie strike-thrower Rafael Montero should also be in that mix, but the Mets seem to favor keeping him in either the minors or the bullpen to start the season. The Mets could also give early-season starts to Carlos Torres, who performed surprisingly well as a swingman last season.
And, while these questions continue to go unanswered, there’s also the underpublicized but troubling case of Travis d’Arnaud, who, after failing to hit in his two-month stint in the majors last season, has continued to fire blanks at the plate this spring. There seems to be an assumption that the catching position is not an issue with the Mets, but it is until d’Arnaud actually starts to show he can, indeed, hit major league pitching.