Top 5 Things To Keep An Eye On During New York Mets 2014 Spring Training
5 Things To Watching During Spring Training
Today is a special day, as it’s the first official day of Spring Training for the New York Mets. Pitchers and catchers are reporting to camp in Port St. Lucie, FL, and position players are officially reporting next Friday, even though most are already in camp. The start of Spring Training and the start of a new season means yet another fresh start for the Mets after five straight losing seasons. But after five straight losing seasons, there’s a lot of work to do before the start of the regular season.
The Mets have left no stone unturned this spring. In addition to the players on their 40-man roster, the team has invited more than 20 non-roster players to camp, including many of their top prospects. This means that the Mets will have more than 60 players competing for 25 spots on the opening-day roster, with the hope of being able to put together a winning team. With so many players coming to camp, there’s going to be a lot of players and storylines worth keeping an eye on over the course of the next six weeks.
Of course, some things will be more important than others. A lot of fans will be interested in seeing the marquee free agents the Mets signed in the offseason, specifically Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon. There are also plenty of prospects worth checking out, even if they’re long shots to make the team. But here are the five things during the Mets’ Spring Training that fans need to pay attention to the most.
5. Travid d'Arnaud
Lost in the shuffle of all the headlines from the Mets offseason is the fact that one of their top prospects is set to be the team’s opening-day catcher, which is a title the Mets hope Travid d’Arnaud holds for many years to come.
After a sluggish start to his major league career last fall, d’Arnaud will be trying to put together a good spring and show that he’s ready for full-time major league duty. Of course, d’Arnaud also has a long history of injuries, so as Mets fans watch him in spring, they’ll also be holding their breath that he’ll be able to stay healthy.
4. The Bullpen
Even without Matt Harvey, the starting rotation looks solid. However, things in the bullpen are less certain. The health of closer Bobby Parnell is a concern, and while a few guys can be penciled in, there are more than a dozen legitimate candidates for seven spots, including several of the Mets’ top pitching prospects. The competition for the bullpen spots should be fun to watch, especially if the younger pitchers perform well during Grapefruit League games.
3. How Does Juan Lagares Hit?
We all know that Lagares is an elite defensive player, but the Mets have questions about his ability with the bat, as well as his plate discipline and his ability to draw walks. If he hits and gets on base during Spring Training, he could fight off Eric Young Jr. and become an every day player for the Mets. However, if Lagares struggles swinging the bat, he could find himself coming off the bench or even back in triple-A. So, how he hits this spring could have a huge impact on the shape of the Mets’ lineup this year and his role with the club moving forward.
2. Ruben Tejada
There will be a lot of eyes on Ruben Tejada this spring, and for good reason. He had a painfully pitiful 2013 season, but the Mets ultimately decided not to sign Stephen Drew during the offseason, which means that Tejada is in line to be their shortstop in 2014. Not only does Tejada need to have a productive spring, but he also needs to do the little thing well and show that he’s willing to play hard and earn the starting shortstop job, even if there isn’t a whole lot of competition for the spot.
If he can replicate the kind of season he had in 2012, he could be an important part of the puzzle this season. However, he’s a long way from proving that he can be that player again.
1. Ike Davis vs. Lucas Duda
This is perhaps the most intriguing position battle the Mets will have this spring, especially after they tried in vain to trade Ike Davis all offseason.
Neither player really deserves to be the every day first baseman based off of their performance last season, but in the end, either Davis or Lucas Duda is going to end up being the Mets’ primary first baseman this year, and how that competition unfolds throughout Spring Training should be fascinating to watch; neither has a leg up on the other heading into camp, nor does either player have a lot of confidence coming off of last season.