A team’s bench in Major League Baseball can play a big role in that team’s success or failure, especially in the National League. These days, the bench for the New York Mets is looking a little cluttered, as the team tries to figure out who the reserves are going to be for the upcoming season.
Part of the problem is that the Mets have no reliable every-day outfielders, and so they are likely to end up playing a platoon of two players at two of the three outfield spots, if not all three. That leaves fewer spots left on the bench for true utility players that can play both infield and outfield positions, which will deprive the Mets of versatility on their bench.
Another issue is that two of the projected players on the Mets bench, Justin Turner and Brandon Hicks, are far too similar to one another. Both are capable of playing every position in the infield, but both have more experience playing the middle infield. Also, both are right handed hitters and both are singles and doubles hitters that haven’t shown much power in their careers. For the Mets to keep both on their roster is redundant and unnecessary. The only thing that might separate them is that Hicks is a better option as a backup shortstop, although Turner is also capable of playing that position.
The Mets need to consider only keeping one of them on the roster this season. Turner may not be as adept at shortstop as Hicks, but Turner would be relied on to play shortstop so infrequently that it’s not worth it to keep both players if that’s the only thing that separates the two. If starting shortstop Ruben Tejada were to miss any significant time, the Mets have shortstops in the minors that could fill in. In a short-term absence, Turner would be more than adequate at filling in for Tejada. Turner would be the favorite to win a spot over Hicks, as he is already an established player on the Mets roster, but if a team is willing to trade for him, the Mets should certainly consider it and allow Hicks to be the backup infielder.
By going with just one player between Turner and Hicks, the Mets would open up a spot on their bench for Zach Lutz, who could give the Mets bench something it’s missing, which is power. Lutz has hit at every level of the minor leagues, and done so with plenty of power. Although he has a history of injuries, that would be less of an issue as a part-time player. Lutz, a natural third baseman, has experience playing both infield corner positions, and may be a better option than both Turner and Hicks at those positions. By putting Lutz on the bench at the expense of either Turner or Hicks it would increase both the power and the versatility on the Mets bench, which is a move the team needs to consider.
As it stands now, the Mets bench is cluttered with platoon outfielders and infielders with repetitive skills. Before the season starts they need to make some moves to change that and strengthen their bench, by adding both power and versatility.