Projected Opening Day Roster: The New York Mets are healthy, now face roster crunch

The New York Mets have a problem. All of their players are healthy.

Just kidding, well, kind of. The team is going to have a tough time telling players that they are going to be in unfamiliar roles, or heading back to AAA Las Vegas. Here is a breakdown of the Mets and what their Opening Day roster should look like under Terry Collins, who is entering his 7th season at the helm of the club.

Outfield

The Mets acquired Jay Bruce from the Reds last season, resigned Yoenis Cespedes in the offseason and still have Curtis Granderson under contract for 2017. Former first round picks Michael Conforto (who turns 24 next week) and Brandon Nimmo (who will be 24 by opening day) are of the age where it is time for them to either get regular playing time or be used in a trade.

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Michael Conforto should be on the Opening Day roster, even if he does not receive regular playing time. (Photo by slgckgc on flickr)

Oh, and there is Juan Lagares. That gold glove winning outfielder who has battled injuries, consistency at the plate and is signed through the next three seasons. Lagares is set to make $9,000,000 in 2019.

Nimmo should head back to Las Vegas at the end of camp, I’m not sure he will ever turn into a starting Major League outfielder. Conforto is the real deal, and needs to be with the Mets in Queens, even if he is only getting a couple of starts per week. The Mets need to know if he can handle regular playing time, as Bruce and Granderson will likely be wearing a different uniform in 2018.

Who should head north? Cespedes, Granderson, Bruce, Lagares and Conforto (5)

Infield

Three-quarters of the Mets infield struggled to stay healthy last season, with Asdrubal Cabrera being the only one who was able to stay healthy.

David Wright, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker all struggled with injury issues last season, allowing guys like Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes to receive regular playing time.

Former first round pick Gavin Cecchini will be entering his age 23 season, but struggled defensively at shortstop over the last few years.

Guys like Cecchini and T.J. Rivera best serve this organization as role players when there is an injury to the starters. They should begin the year in Vegas, get regular playing time and be ready to go in the event there is an injury. The versatility of Reyes and Flores is also a major plus for the organization.

Who should head north? Duda, Walker, Cabrera, Wright, Flores and Reyes (6)

Catcher

Travis d’Arnaud gave Kevin Plawecki every opportunity to take his job, and he couldn’t do it. Journeyman Rene Rivera seized catching responsibilities for the better half of 2017 and the position is certainly influx for this contender.

Prospect Tomas Nido has a big year ahead of him. If d’Arnaud continues to struggle or can’t stay healthy, the organization may look to Nido (who should get his first look at AA pitching in April) to be the catcher of the future.

Who should head north? d’Arnaud and Rivera (2)

Starting Rotation

Stud after stud, injury after injury. Noah Syndergaard was the only starter that was able to stay healthy through all (most) of 2016 and headlines a staff that claims it is ready to go.

Jacob deGrom has recovered from offseason surgery, as well as Steven Matz and Matt Harvey. Zack Wheeler, who has not pitched in a Major League game since 2014 is reported to be progressing well. Throw in Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and the Mets have plenty of options.

Who should head north? Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Matz and Gsellman (5)

Bullpen

Much to the surprise of Mets fans, the front office opened their wallet this offseason not only to resign Cespedes but also to ensure that the bullpen remains a strength for the team. Addison Reed was retained and Jerry Blevins was resigned to bolster the back end that will likely be without closer Jeurys Familia for some portion of time to start the season.

Along with the aforementioned triumvirate, the Mets have Hansel Robles, Josh Edgin, Fernando Salas, Josh Smoker, Erik Goeddel and Sean Gilmartin to try and round out the bullpen.

Who should head north? Familia, Reed, Blevins, Wheeler, Robles, Edgin and Salas (7)

The toughest news to break will be to let Wheeler know that he is going to the bullpen. The Mets need to commit to this idea and stick with it throughout the 2017 season in order to get Wheeler back into game shape and competing at the highest level. The Mets are best served with either Gsellman or Lugo at the back end of the rotation (in my opinion, Gsellman) and sending Lugo back to the Minors to stay stretched out until an injury occurs with one of the starting pitchers.

While the ever-smiling Nimmo will not be happy with his demotion, he is an injury away from being called upon to join the Mets.

This organization has depth, experience and a nasty rotation that will compete with the Nationals all year in the NL East.

Projected Starting Line-Up

  1. Granderson (CF)
  2. Cabrera (SS)
  3. Cespedes (LF)
  4. Bruce (RF)
  5. Walker (2b)
  6. Duda (1b)
  7. Wright (3b)
  8. d’Arnaud (c)

Bench

  1. Rivera (c)
  2. Reyes (2b/SS/3b)
  3. Flores (UTL)
  4. Conforto (OF)
  5. Lagares (OF)

Projected Rotation

  1. Syndergaard (RHP)
  2. deGrom (RHP)
  3. Harvey (RHP)
  4. Matz (LHP)
  5. Gsellman (RHP)

Projected Bullpen

  1. Familia (RHP)
  2. Reed (RHP)
  3. Blevins (LHP)
  4. Wheeler (RHP)
  5. Robles (RHP)
  6. Salas (RHP)
  7. Edgin (LHP)

McCutchen is talking like his days are numbered in Pittsburgh

I was listening to Buster Olney’s Baseball Tonight podcast yesterday and he had an interview with Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen, who sounds like he is completely miffed that he is moving to RF this season.

McCutchen, who is coming off of a disappointing 2016 campaign, is entering his age 30 season with a relatively team friendly contract. He is set to make $14 million this year and there is a team option at $14.75 million for next season. With his diminished skill set, especially defensively, the Pirates have decided to move him to RF and could ship him out of town before the trade deadline.

According to Baseball Reference (via Fielding Bible) Marte is clearly the superior defensive outfielder when manning CF. Marte was -2 when it came to defensive runs saved (DRS), which is just below the league average for center fielders.

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Gregory Polanco by Mike McBride

Conversely, McCutchen -28 in DRS when playing center, which is 23 runs below the league average.

With super OF prospect Austin Meadows ready to go in the minors, Starling Marte under team control through 2021 and Gregory Polanco under team control through 2023, it seems that McCutchen is the odd man out in the Pirates outfield. A number of rumors were swirling this offseason, but look for McCutchen to be wearing a different uniform by the July trade deadline.

Baseball is Back: Spring Training notes and more

Good Morning and happy Friday! There were three Spring Training games yesterday, all pitting Major League clubs against college teams. Thankfully, all were able to avoid an embarrassing loss to their amateur opponents. While the scores are largely irrelevant, it is fun to report a score and a few statistics. Spring Training action continues today with six games, five of which are exclusively Major League teams.

Back to yesterday:

Phillies 6, University of Tampa 0

Is that Mark Leiter? Yes! Mark Leiter, Jr. is a prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies and started the game yesterday. Leiter spent all of last year at AA, going 6-3 in 17 starts and 23 total appearances. Leiter pitched one perfect inning yesterday.

Leadoff hitter Roman Quinn spurred the Philadelphia offense, going 2-for-3 with a solo HR in the third. Quinn is listed as the Phillies 7th Overall Prospect by MLB.com, and even earned a cup of coffee in the Bigs last season. With an impressive spring, Quinn could be in Philadelphia sooner rather than later.

This game saw a collection of Phillies prospects, including JP Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Dylan Cozens and Scott Kingery take the field.

Red Sox 9, Northeastern University 6

The hometown (…kind of home away from home?) fans were treated to a number of Major League players yesterday when Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland and Pablo Sandoval played against Northeastern University.

In his first game action for the BoSox, Moreland hit a three run HR in the third. The Red Sox will be counting on Moreland to replace some of the power that retired when Big Papi retired at the end of last season.

I really wanted to write this article without talking about Pablo Sandoval. I’m sick of reading about how many calories he ingests in the fifth inning of Thursday games played after a double header…UGH. But give Panda credit, he is only 30 years old and is looking to bounce back after only playing three games last season.

LHP Brian Johnson (26 years old) started the game for Boston, hurling two no-hit innings while striking out three.

Tigers 8, Florida Southern College 0

Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus penciled in a number of Major League players in his starting line-up on Thursday, as the team defeated FSC.

Third baseman Nick Castellanos doubled and catcher James McCann drove in a run as the Tigers pitching held the Moccasins (the snake, not the footwear) scoreless.

 

Check back tomorrow for a comprehensive review of the games that are going on today and sometime this weekend for a preview of the NL East- the land of topflight shortstop prospects. Good day!

 

Beer Review: Happy Banana Bread BEER Day!

Happy Banana Bread Day! As the night winds down I was happy to realize that one of the mix-six-packs in my fridge contained a Banana Bread Beer from Wells Brewers. Pairing this brew with a delicious chocolate chip banana muffin (special thank to my wife on that) qualifies me as the most festive person celebrating this holiday. I just want to know who the jamoke was on Twitter that made this day up when they were sitting in their mother’s house eating banana bread with their comic book. Anyway…

The Wells Brewing Company is located in England, just north of London, and has been brewing since 1876. According to their website, Wells makes 22 different beers.

The Banana Bread Beer is uniquely refreshing. The banana aroma is evident from the moment you open the can and the taste stays with you throughout the journey with this 5.2% ABV beverage. It’s smooth and sweet, without being gimmicky.

While I couldn’t pound a ton of these out at a local pub, I am enjoying the one I have here and could go for another. I would recommend this to the adventurous beer snob, or anyone who is looking for something that is uncommon. Nice job, Wells.

 

Thursday Morning Notes: CarGo extensions stall, Indians will rely on the rotation in 2017

Carlos Gonzalez has been with the Colorado Rockies since 2009 and is set to make $20,000,000 this season in the last year of his contract. According to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post (@markkiszla), contract negotiations have stalled.

Kiszla reports that Gonzalez has felt that there is a lack of urgency from the Rockies organization to get a longterm deal done to ensure that he stays in Colorado for the rest of his career.

Even more alarming is that Kiszla met with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich and reports that Bridich refused to even discuss the topic of Gonzalez’s contract or future with the team.

With the Rockies on the brink of becoming a serious contender and making a playoff appearance for the first time since 2009, this has to be alarming for Rockies fans.


Mike Melaragno (@MikeMelaragno22) of Burning River Baseball believes that the key to the Indians season is the team’s starting rotation. Check out his detailed report, it is a great read.

While the Indians lack the big names of the Mets, Nationals or Cubs, these guys can flat out deal. America was introduced to this impressive staff last fall, and they should continue to produce this season.

The rotation, led by the 31-year-old Kluber, is only getting better at this point. Expect the Tribe to contend again in 2017.

Also, kudos to Melaragno for a Brad Radke reference in the article. I haven’t heard that name in a while!

Phillies Farm Report: Crawford and Williams have a lot to prove before making the jump

Earlier today, MLB.com announced their top-30 prospect list for the Philadelphia Phillies. Ben Harris (@Ben27Harris) of Crashburn Alley published a comprehensive review of the MLB.com’s evaluation and offered his own feelings on the prospects that were discussed. Check out the article, it is really well done.

Taking a look at a couple of the top prospects in the organization, I am less than impressed. As Harris noted, J.P. Crawford (#1) and Nick Williams (#3) seem to have flat lined in 2016.

After hitting .288 between A+ and AA in 2015, Crawford scuffled to the tune of a .250 AVG. between AA and AAA. Crawford’s OBP also fell from .380 to .349. To be fair, Crawford was only 21 years old last season and competing against players that are much older than him at both levels.

While a dip in numbers would be expected, especially for a young player at the upper levels of the minor leagues, it is a bit troubling. When comparing Crawford’s numbers to those of Mets top-prospect Amed Rosario, they are rather pedestrian. Rosario was hitting .309 before his promotion from A-ball to AA, where he then went on to hit .341 in 214 AB’s. Rosario was only 20 years old last season.

Trea Turner, another superstar shortstop prospect from the NL East (article coming on that tomorrow), also adjusted to AAA ball better than Crawford. Turner was 22 years old when he made the jump to AAA in 2015, and he continued to hit for a high AVG (.314) and hit .302 for a few months at AAA in 2016.

As for Nick Williams, his first season at AAA was pretty average. Hitting .258 with 13 HR’s and a weak .287 OBP. Williams also struck out 136 times in 497 AB’s. Throughout his career in the minors, Williams has struck out in more than 25% of his AB’s.

While Mickey Moniak, Sixto Sanchez (great baseball name) and Daniel Brito all made the list and seem to have plenty of upside and momentum, they are years away.

Crawford and Williams will need to improve in 2017 to legitimize their place at the top of the Phillies prospect rankings and ultimately earn their place on the Major League roster. This is a year of transition for the organization, and both should be playing a role in the show by the All-Star break. Spring Training and the first few months of the season will be pivotal in their overall growth.

Check back tomorrow for an analysis of the next generation of shortstops in the NL East (minus the Miami Marlins).

 

 

 

Wednesday Morning Musings: Wieters to Washington, don’t forget about Burdi with the White Sox

Matt Wieters is headed to the Washington Nationals on a two year deal (with an opt-out after one) to become the starting catcher. This move seems to sure up on the only spot in their everyday starting line-up that had a glaring hole.

Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post points out that the move is more than baseball, as the ownership groups of the Orioles and Nationals are “embroiled in a legal fight, one in which the Nationals believe the Orioles are denying them a fair share of the revenue generated by the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.”

While the legal case is yet to be determined, the message that the Wieters move sends throughout baseball is clear. The Nationals believe that their window to win is relatively short, and that Wieters is an essential piece for this club to compete over the next two years.


In Arizona, the Chicago White Sox and new manager Rick Renteria are enjoying the fruits of their off-season trades. Young studs like Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito are all reportedly turning heads at camp. While these are all higher profile players, Renteria reminded the news media yesterday about Zack Burdi, the club’s 2016 First Round Pick.

It is hard to believe, but a former first round pick seems to be flying under the radar. Burdi, a 21-year-old right handed reliever, went from Class A to AAA last season in dominating fashion. Throughout the year, Burdi struck out 51 in 38 innings and only allowed 3 HR’s. Expect to see Burdi in the Sox ‘pen at some point in 2017.

The White Sox are in full rebuild mode, and it seems that they had an incredible off season. I would not be surprised if Joe Quintana and David Robertson are moved before too long.