Fans of the New York Mets haven’t had much to cheer about lately as their team has missed the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons. While the fans hope there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, too often that light represented an oncoming train. Even though the Mets went out and actually signed some significant free agents this offseason, it still seems as if the roster has been left woefully short in certain areas.
Coming into the offseason, general manager Sandy Alderson identified several major positions of need, including shortstop, first base and the bullpen. However, as of this writing, not one of those positions has been appreciably upgraded over last year’s grave disappointment. Add in the fifth spot in the rotation, which has been a question mark all spring, and New York is left with an inordinate degree of unreliability in more than 20 percent of their Opening Day Roster.
What compounds this issue further is when there seems to be an obvious choice for a roster spot, the Mets all too frequently opt for the “less obvious” choice. Now, that’s not to say that fans or journalists should tell the front office/manager how to do their respective jobs, but when there’s such a preponderance of evidence in favor of one candidate and the team goes against the grain to pick another candidate, it’s certainly fair game to question that choice. Although the Opening Day roster is not set in stone as of yet, the rumored thought processes being reported by some Mets beat writers have to, at the very least, concern members of this loyal but downtrodden fanbase.
Last summer, Jenrry Mejia, one of the organization’s most promising young arms, burst back onto the scene and had several impressive starts before succumbing to bone chips and fragments in his elbow. Mejia had offseason surgery to clean out those fragments and has looked strong and healthy in his work during Spring Training. However, Mejia, at one time considered the favorite to land the fifth starter spot, has seemingly fallen behind Daisuke Matsuzaka, who’s been getting lit up this spring. If the Mets don’t believe Mejia can hold up under a full season’s workload in the rotation and want to put him in the bullpen, that would be understandable given the uncertainty also surrounding the pen. However, to not include Mejia on the 25-man roster at all, a possibility that has been raised, would be inexplicable.
Conversely, while both players were thought to have incredibly short leashes to begin with, Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis have done nothing to forcefully claim their starting spots so far. Tejada has been a nightmare at the plate and in the field, mimicking a lot of the issues seen in his awful 2013 season. Davis hasn’t even played in a few weeks thanks to a calf injury, and New York hasn’t been able to get any read on his progress, if any, or shop him to interested teams. Despite these huge question marks, both players are penciled in to be every day starters for lack of better options.
The bullpen, which has been one of the worst in baseball for several seasons running now, has a chance to be a house of horrors once again. The Mets appear to be ready to hand two of their coveted pen spots to veteran Jose Valverde and John Lannan, both of whom have seen better days. Lannan, in particular, is likely to be used as a second lefty specialist, but the problem with that is his career splits against lefties are almost identical to those of righties. Again, it appears as if New York is trying to shove a round peg into a square hole instead of giving the chance to some of the team’s more deserving young arms.
Admittedly, these are only musings and projections until the 25-man roster has to go north to New York, but it’s disconcerting to hear these options being mentioned. If the Mets truly want to right the ship and engender themselves to the fans, they’ll try to put the best possible product on the field, something that doesn’t appear a guarantee as we sit here a few weeks before Opening Day.