Predicting The New York Mets’ Opening Day Lineup
Predicting The New York Mets' Opening Day Lineup
With spring training finally underway and Grapefruit League games starting at the end of the week, New York Mets manager Terry Collins needs to get used to filling out his lineup card on a daily basis. That means this is the perfect time to make a prediction that Collins is going to put on the field on opening day of the 2014 MLB season since the lineups he uses during spring training could tip off what he plans to use during the regular season.
Despite all the changes to the Mets’ roster over the past year, there is a strong chance that the infield Collins puts on the field on opening day is the exact same infield that started the season for the Mets on opening day last year after the team failed to upgrade at the shortstop position and were unable to trade away one of their first basemen. However, there is zero chance of that happening in the Mets’ outfield, which has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past year going back to the promotion of Juan Lagares last season, the trade for Eric Young Jr. and the free agent acquisitions of Chris Young and Curtis Granderson.
Of course, with several position battles set to take place during spring training, a few of the spots in the Mets’ lineup remain unspoken for with the regular season a little more than a month away. But even with a few positions still up for grabs, here is a prediction of the Mets’ opening day lineup for the 2014 season.
1. Eric Young Jr., Left Field
Mets manager Terry Collins seems bound and determined to put Young Jr. in the lineup and in the leadoff spot. There's an interesting conundrum between him and Juan Lagares, but at the end of the day, Young Jr. gives the Mets speed that they don't have anywhere else. There's no denying that his presence at the top of the order was a catalyst for the Mets' solid second half last season, and that is why Collins is going to have him in the leadoff spot on opening day.
2. Daniel Murphy, Second Base
The Mets would like Murphy to be more patient and draw more walks, but it's hard to argue against him being one of the better second basemen in the National League last season. Ultimately, the Mets would like to see a more patient hitter emerge as a viable No. 2 hitter so they could bump Murphy to third in the order and lengthen out their lineup. But until that happens, Murphy is going to hit in the two hole.
3. David Wright, Third Base
With a little more protection behind him than in past years, the Mets are hopeful that Wright can have one of his best seasons in 2014. Until the Mets get the top of their order figured out, Wright is going to hit third, which is where he'll be on opening day.
4. Curtis Granderson, Right Field
For $60 million, Granderson is certainly going to be hitting cleanup for the Mets. If he can shake off the injuries he suffered last year and show some power, he'll provide great protection for David Wright, giving the Mets at least two proven run producers in the middle of their lineup.
5. Ike Davis, First Base
This is where things get complicated as Davis could still be traded. However, assuming he isn't traded, he'll be the Mets' opening day first baseman. Technically, he and Lucas Duda are competing for the spot during spring training, but if Davis is still around, the Mets are going to give him a chance in the regular season because he has a higher ceiling. If Davis ends up having a good spring like he did last year, manager Terry Collins will be hopeful and put him in the middle of the order.
6. Chris Young, Center Field
Ultimately, Juan Lagares could end up playing a lot here, but the Mets gave Young over $7 million on a one-year contract and they promised him regular at bats. So until he proves to be unproductive over an extended period of time, he's going to get a lot of playing time which means he'll be the Mets' opening day center fielder.
7. Travis d'Arnaud, Catcher
The Mets hope this is the first of many opening days that d'Arnaud is behind the plate for them.
8. Ruben Tejada, Shortstop
For a lack of a better option, Tejada will start at shortstop on opening day for the third consecutive year. There is a lot of skepticism surrounding Tejada at the start of spring training, but unless something changes, the Mets don't have many alternatives, meaning it's Tejada's job until he proves otherwise.
9. Jon Niese, Pitcher
Manager Terry Collins has said he prefers Niese; general manager Sandy Alderson has intimated that 40-year-old Bartolo Colon is an option; and youngster Zack Wheeler has said that he wants to be the guy to start opening day. If Matt Harvey were healthy he'd be the obvious choice, but the Mets really can't go wrong with any of the other three options -- or Dillon Gee for that matter. In the end, it won't matter much who starts on the mound on opening day, but right now Niese has the advantage after getting the opening day start last year.