Predicting New York Mets’ Opening Day 25-Man Roster
New York Mets: Predicting the Opening Day 25 Man Roster
As we near the beginning of Spring Training, every major league team has quite a few question marks dotting its' 25 man roster. While some teams have more certainty than others, position battles are one of the key things to watch as teams slowly whittle down their rosters in preparation for Opening Day. Spring Training is also traditionally a time where certain players come out of nowhere to make their respective teams and everyone thinks the sky is falling if the star player hits under .200 in limited at bats.
All of the above applies to the New York Mets, who will kickoff their Grapefruit League schedule February 28th against the Washington Nationals. The Mets have quite a few positions up for grabs this spring, as they've seemed to every year since their rebuild started, and there will be no shortage of players trying to lay claim to a 25 man roster spot.
Some of the position battles to watch in Mets' Spring Training will be first base, between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, center field, between Juan Lagares and Chris Young, and the bullpen, where the Mets have Bobby Parnell, Vic Black, Josh Edgin, and a plethora of open spots. New York also inked quite a few players to minor league contracts and those players will also be fighting to fill the precious last few spots on the Opening Day roster. Unfortunately, not everyone can make the team and some players who signed minor league deals have opt outs before April in the event those players don't find themselves on the 25 man roster. With all that said, click through the slideshow for a prediction on who will be left standing when the dust clears on March 31st.
David Wright is the most obvious name here. As the Mets captain and all-around best player, he'll be batting 3rd and playing third base on Opening Day
New signing Curtis Granderson will be starting in one of the outfield corners and protecting Wright from the cleanup spot in the lineup. The Mets hope that Granderson can replicate Marlon Byrd's surprising power supply from last season.
After spending most of last season in the minors, the catching job is Travis d'Arnaud's to lose in 2014. d'Arnaud figures to open this season as the every day catcher and will be a vital piece in determining New York's level of success.
Despite trade rumors that continue to swirl around him, at this juncture it appears as if the Mets are going to roll with Ike Davis at first base to start the season. After Davis' poor starts to the last two seasons, he figures to have a very, very short leash in 2014.
Daniel Murphy will be starting at second base for the Mets on Opening Day. After questions about his ability to handle the position surrounded him last spring, Murphy quieted detractors enough that he's entering 2014 as one of the surer things for New York.
Signed to a one year contract in the off-season, Chris Young will attempt to rebuild his value which has come tumbling down since he left Arizona a few seasons ago. Young figures to slot into the other corner outfield spot, opposite Granderson, although if for some inane reason the Mets choose not to start Juan Lagares, Young could find himself in center.
Juan Lagares shot on to the scene in 2013, quickly becoming the Mets' everyday center fielder after he proved to be one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball. While there are still some whispers in Mets camp that the team could start Eric Young, Jr., with Chris Young in center, I'd chalk those up to being nothing more than motivation for the young Lagares, whose bat needs to be sufficient enough to keep up with his glove.
Ruben Tejada is the incumbent shortstop for the Mets, but right now that's more by default than anything else. Tejada is coming off a horrendous 2013 season, which saw him demoted to Triple A for a good portion of the season, and has to prove to the Mets that he's more the player they saw in 2012 than last year. Although New York could still bring in a replacement from outside the organization, as of now, the job is Tejada's to lose.
Eric Young, Jr.
Eric Young, Jr. led the National League in stolen bases after coming over from Colorado mid-season in 2013, but he might have trouble replicating that feat this season in what figures to be a part-time role. Young, Jr. could find himself as the ultimate utility man, spelling all three outfield positions, as well as second base...that is, unless Terry Collins makes the mistake of starting him every day for his "lead-off" capabilities.
Jonathon Niese struggled with injuries last season and wasn't able to take the next step after a promising 2012 season. Despite his up and down season, Niese was expected to take the ball Opening Day for the Mets, but he's now returning to New York for a MRI on his shoulder, so that outcome has to be considered in doubt.
The Mets signed Bartolo Colon to a two year deal this off-season, in part to fill the gaping hole left in the team's rotation from ace Matt Harvey having Tommy John surgery. Although Colon will turn 41 during the season, he was 2nd in the American League in ERA last season and moving to the more pitcher friendly National League should help him out even if he regresses back to the norm a bit.
After returning last season from a scary blood clot issue that ended his 2012 season early, Dillon Gee struggled mightily to start the 2013 campaign. However, after an impressive outing against the crosstown Yankees in May, Gee went on to become one of the better pitchers in baseball for the rest of the season. He'll slot into the middle of the Mets rotation this season and likely provide them with consistently good innings.
After waiting several seasons to make his big-league debut, Zack Wheeler did just that last season and showed Mets fans that the wait was justified. Wheeler is one of the most promising young arms in baseball and, wherever New York chooses to slot him in to their rotation, he's going to be a big part of this organization going forward.
Jenrry Mejia entered 2013 as largely a forgotten man; once considered the Mets' top prospect, Mejia's star had been dulled quite a bit by injuries. However, during a brief mid-season stint, Mejia looked like a completely different pitcher and has to be considered the favorite to land the Mets' 5th starter spot. Even if the Mets choose to go with a veteran to fill out their rotation, Mejia should find himself on the Opening Day roster pitching out of the bullpen.
Bobby Parnell is the Mets closer and, without a doubt, the best and most consistent arm in their bullpen. Parnell was enjoying a tremendous 2013 season until he was shut down late in the year due to a herniated disc in his neck that eventually needed surgery. While the team is bringing Parnell along slowly this spring, it's imperative that the Mets get him back healthy in time for the season to start.
Vic Black was acquired late last season in the deal that sent Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh. Black was impressive in a September cameo for the Mets and he enters 2014 as the de facto setup man to Parnell. Although Black is no lock to make the team, he's likely got the inner track on many of the other young arms that are in Mets camp trying to win a spot.
Josh Edgin began 2013 as the Mets primary left-handed specialist, but he had a horrific start to the season and was sent down to Triple A Las Vegas shortly thereafter. Thankfully for the Mets, he returned in the 2nd half of the season and pitched much better, cementing his status as the go to lefty in 2014.
Scott Rice is the other lefty in the Mets bullpen, a journeyman who had spent countless years in the minor leagues before finally getting his shot last season at the age of 31. While Rice's overall numbers weren't great, he was very effective against lefties, something that figures to earn him a spot on this year's roster, too.
Jeurys Familia is one of the most promising young arms in the Mets organization and was supposed to be an integral part of the bullpen in 2013. In typical Mets fashion, however, Familia was injured early in the season and missed almost the entire year. Familia is back to full health this spring and, once again, figures to be looked upon as one of the key arms in the bullpen.
The Mets signed veteran Kyle Farnsworth to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, but with the lack of reliable options competing for the bullpen, it's a good bet than Farnsworth will earn himself a spot come Opening Day. Although Farnsworth struggled last season with Tampa Bay, he was a lot better in a few late season outings for Pittsburgh, so the Mets are hoping they get the latter Farnsworth.
Like Farnsworth, Jose Valverde is another well traveled veteran who signed with the Mets on a minor league deal. Although Valverde only pitched sparingly last season for Detroit, he enters camp as one of the favorites to make the opening day pen because of his experience closing. If Bobby Parnell is not healthy for Opening Day, the Mets could turn to Valverde as their temporary closer, which means Met fans better hold their collective breath.
What happens this spring with Lucas Duda will be one of the more interesting things to watch. Duda figures to compete with Ike Davis for the first base job, but if he doesn't win it, his role on the team will be in serious question. While Duda could spell Davis at first, they both bat from the left side, not ideal for a platoon situation, and he's obviously incapable of playing a capable outfield. Even so, for lack of better options, he could find himself as the power bat off the Mets' bench this season.
Josh Satin has spent quite a few years in the Mets' minor league system and finally got his shot in the big leagues towards the end of the 2013 season. Satin was very effective in his super utility man role, a role he figures to reprise this season. He could serve as a right handed platoon partner for whomever wins the first base job and is also capable of playing second and third base.
Anthony Recker was the backup catcher for the Mets last season and, although he's got some competition this spring, he seems to be the odds on favorite to fill that spot again. Although no one will ever confuse Recker with Mike Piazza, Recker does have some pop in his bat and is surprisingly adept at throwing out runners. Unless he's beaten out by Taylor Teagarden or Juan Centeno this spring, Recker will be back in New York come April.
Anthony Seratelli is another player whom the Mets signed to a minor league deal this off-season. Seratelli can play any number of positions, but the Mets largely signed him to backup the middle infield spots, the kind of player they didn't feel they had in their organization assuming Ruben Tejada starts at shortstop. Seratelli's not a lock to make the team, by any means, and if the Mets bring in another shortstop to supersede Tejada, Seratelli could just as easily find himself in Triple A Las Vegas.