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With three weeks left, uncertainty remains at 1B & SS for Mets

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Opening Day is about three weeks away, and the New York Mets have not really found clarity on many of the major issues they faced going into spring training.

Ike Davis flails at a pitch on Saturday (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Ike Davis flails at a pitch during a game last season. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Terry Collins wanted to get Ike Davis 90 to 100 at-bats this spring, but that’s not going to happen. On Monday, Davis was limping around the clubhouse in a walking boot intended to protect his sore right calf. He played in two games before getting injured, hitting a home run and striking out three times in six at-bats.

Unbelievably, Davis had not gotten an MRI yet even though he’s been out of action for nearly a week already. According to Newsday’s Anthony Rieber, Davis hopes to play again by the beginning of next week. Collins hopes to get Davis into minor league games as the DH this weekend, according to ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin.

The primary challenger to Davis for the first base job is Lucas Duda, and he’s been out of action for most of the past week with a hamstring injury. He managed a double and a home run in seven at-bats before landing on the injury report.

Neither candidate has been able to stay on the field long enough to win the job.

Ruben Tejada (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Ruben Tejada (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

At shortstop, Ruben Tejada looks like a man who’s confidence has been shaken by all his unnamed critics in the Mets’ organization. He certainly hasn’t impressed, and I will be shocked if he isn’t booed loudly during Opening Day introductions at Citi Field.

To data, stopgap veteran Omar Quintanilla has gotten the most playing time at shortstop this spring: 30 innings in five games. Tejada’s played there in 26 innings over four games, and career minor leaguer Anthony Seratelli has 21 innings in five games. Despite all of the early camp discussion of giving Wilmer Flores a chance to play there, he’s only gotten six innings over two games.

That’s not really showing much of a commitment to anyone.

The Seattle Mariners continue to send scouts to Mets games, so there has almost certainly been at least some discussion about a trade involving Mariners infielder Nick Franklin… but the cost in prospects is likely to be high. Will Sandy Alderson be willing to pay it? Should he? My Magic 8-Ball says “Ask again later.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his Mets debut on Aug. 23, 2013 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

One area where clarity does seem to be developing is the starting rotation. Daisuke Matsuzaka seems to be the favorite for the fifth spot, though it’s still too early to say with any certainty and I disagree with the choice. His main competition, veteran John Lannan and youngster Jenrry Mejia, seem to be getting consideration for the Mets’ bullpen.

After lefties Josh Edgin, Steven Matz, Adam Kolarek and Jack Leathersich were among the first round of cuts Monday, Collins talked about getting Lannan some work out of the bullpen soon. (Someone should let the Mets’ skipper know that Lannan is not a prototypical lefty specialist – for his career, both lefty and righty batters have an identical .755 OPS against him.)

And though Mejia wants to start, it looks more like the Mets are considering him for the bullpen. Consider that Dillon Gee pitched four innings in a “B” game on Monday morning, while Mejia worked two innings in relief of him.

There’s still time for everything to shake out, and Opening Day lineups matter more to fans than they probably should anyway. Just ask Collin Cowgill.

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2 thoughts on “With three weeks left, uncertainty remains at 1B & SS for Mets

  1. Nick Franklin is 23 years old, won’t be arb eligible until 2017 and won’t be a free agent until 2020. He hit 12 home runs last year and batted .225. Scouts seem to agree that the 12 home runs is about right–maybe more as he develops–but that his average should be much better than that. The kid can hit (they say). As a shortstop, he’s adequate…a little better than Murphy is at second. Scouts say Flores plays the middle infield like he’s running in quicksand and they’re not convinced his bat is major league ready, though they believe he will hit eventually. Chances are good he’s a DH. And we know about Tejada. Seratelli is a utility guy, at best, so he’s competing with Quintanilla for that bench spot.

    Now… the question is what do you consider a high price in prospects? Seattle has said they want Montero. That’s a negotiating position. What do they really want and need? They need a centerfielder and they want a young arm. You obviously don’t give up Montero, but we’ve got young arms to spare. A package of Lagares and, I dunno, Leathersich or Matz or similar pitching prospect probably gets it done. I don’t think that’s too high IF you think Franklin’s the answer.

    Me, I’d shoot the moon at this point. Since both our first basemen are hobbled, I put Flores on first. I go north with Guillorme as my shortstop. Don’t know how he’d do with the bat, having only a season of rookie league under his belt, but he’s major league ready at shortstop today. He’s clearly the best natural shortstop in the organization. I really don’t care how he does with the bat. And, while I’m one of those who doesn’t want Thor promoted prematurely–I want him to have an extended stay at AAA–Montero is ready; I make Montero my 4th or 5th starter and bring him north (or wait til May, but no longer, if it looks like we won’t need a 5th starter for a while). That’s what I’d do. You’re wasting Guillorme if you don’t make Montero your 5th starter. It’s pitching and defense, not canon fodder (Dice K, Lannan, etc) and defense. If you’re really intent on being cautious with Guillorme, then I (of all people) finally see a value in signing Drew. If I would bring Guillorme north today (and I would), you can afford a stopgap like Drew for a year or two. It’ll hurt us in free agency next year, spending that money on a crap shortstop like Drew, but he is a better option than the law firm of Tejada, Flores, Quintanilla & Seratelli, and, short term, better than Franklin.


    1. I finally saw Wilmer Flores play shortstop long enough to get a few chances today. I think he could do about as well as Justin Turner did there, which is not a strong endorsement. But I could see keeping him around as a utility infielder over Anthony Seratelli and especially Omar Quintanilla.

      I have not seen Nick Franklin play, but no one seems to think he’s going to be a good shortstop. He’ll probably be an above average hitter for the position eventually, but the thought of what a double play combo of Franklin and Daniel Murphy might mean for the Mets’ pitchers worries me almost as much as the law firm of Tejada, Flores, Quintanilla & Seratelli. (I love that line, btw.)

      I’ve never actually been excited about Stephen Drew – he represents mediocrity. But he does buy time for the Mets to develop one of Sandy Alderson’s draft picks, whether it’s Gavin Cecchini or Luis Guillorme. (You may not care if Guillorme hits, but it will do nothing for his confidence or fans’ patience if he looks over-matched at the plate every time he comes up.)

      I had no problem with the Mets signing John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka to provide depth & push the prospects, but I really wanted to see them go to Las Vegas after Jenrry Mejia or Rafael Montero won the open rotation spot.

      A pitching rotation that includes both Bartolo Colon and Matsuzaka would really depress me when young starting pitching is supposed to be an organizational strength.


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