Pre-Spring Training Thoughts

spring-trainingMets pitchers and catchers report officially Saturday, but many of the smart or eager players are already in Port St. Lucie. Yes, the guys are throwing, running, fielding grounders and talking to reporters, who are tweeting out blurry pictures. These are important traditions after all. It’s baseball activities if not actual baseball.

Here’s the reminder: there will be next to no news generated this week unless some pitcher’s arm falls off, or a guy breaks a bone.

Here’s a primer on the major battles for the 2014 Mets.

5th starter
Jenrry Mejia is the incumbent, sort of. He will have to hold off the old guys – John Lannan and Dice K – and the prospects like Jacob deGrom, or Rafael Montero. I regard guys like Cory Mazzoni  and Logan Verrett as better fits in the bullpen. Noah Syndergaard will not make his big league debut until well after the Super-2 deadline. So enjoy watching him in Spring Training, and then wait a few months (Hey, it worked for Harvey and Wheeler).

Mets VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development, Paul DePodesta explained to Kristie Ackert regarding the team’s pitching depth:

Our pitching is at a critical mass. You look at the arms we’ve had at Triple-A and we’ve got pitchers who are very, very close. We know the history, we know not every pitcher makes it, but we have enough of them that certainly some of them will.

“Maybe they are starters, who will transition back to being starters later, or maybe they won’t because they have become so valuable in their role,” DePodesta continued. “Thats the situation we’ve wanted to be in.”

Ike Davis or Lucas Duda?


I’m actually more interested in who the right-handed half of the platoon will be. This is Josh Satin’s job to lose as he will mostly have to hold off Wilmer Flores.

I think, that assuming health, and no major spring training meltdown, this unit is pretty close to set for Opening Day.

By my count, six of spots are relatively secure.
Closer: Bobby Parnell
Scott Rice, Josh Edgin
RHP: Vic Black, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia

If the Mets do decide to head north with seven relievers, Gonzalez Germen has the incumbent advantage. He will be fighting more journeymen than prospects: Ryan Reid, Joel Carreno (NRI), Kyle Farnsworth (NRI), Miguel Socolovich (NRI). There’s a chance that deGrom, who worked in Vegas last year as a starter, slides into this battle with a solid spring if Mejia fends him off for a rotation spot. On the prospect side, RHP Jeff Walters, Logan Verrett and Cory Mazzoni, all of whom ended 2013 in double-A, are unlikely to jump the guys in front of them and will begin the year in triple-A Vegas. 


I actually think everyone battling for the 5th Starter job will get at least one start this year. I have no idea of Mejia can stay healthy or if healthy...if they will let him throw more than 100- 120 innings. Lannan should start the year as the swing-man if he loses this job. Matsuzaka is the wildcard; early Mets Matsuzaka gets cut, latter Mets Matsuzaka wins the 5th job and sends Mejia to Las Vegas. 

Something has to give with Davis and Duda. I think the money's on Davis being traded in late March with Duda getting the 1B job. If Davis produces in the Spring, then Duda should be in Vegas, but now the Mets are saying they might give him some time in the OF...just when you think we are not a joke right?? Satin is the RH side of the platoon.

Farnsworth and Valverde get bullpen spots, probably bumping Familia to go close in Vegas. Speaking of Vegas, that team will be absolutely loaded in the first half of 2014 - led by a rotation featuring Syndergaard, Montero, deGrom and a lineup led by Flores, Lagares, Lutz, Dykstra, den Dekker, Nieuwenhuis, etc.


I'm nervous about the bullpen...

51's rotation would seem to be pretty crowded going into this year. Anyway you think they move a guy like Gorski or Verett to bullpen in spring training or close thereafter to position them to help the big league club asap?


Farnsworth and Matsuzaka have XX-B rights and can refuse going to Vegas.  

Carlos Torres is the only notable player without options. 

I could see them making room and sending Familia to AAA at least to start the year.  I do expect Familia and Germen to be in a sizable group of guys who see time for both the Mets and 51s. 


@grandpamet They could also have one of them starting in Binghamton at the beginning of the year to see how things shake out.  And as they have shown in the past they can go to a 6 man rotation if a level has 'too many' arms. 

Lannan, Noah, Montero, deGrom and Goeddel would be my guess, and isn't exactly crowded unless you are Schwinden or Verrett and looking for starts. 


@natew @grandpamet  I was thinking the 5 you mentioned plus Mazzoni, Dice-K (Im not familiar with what you referenced below, would he refuse to go to LV and then get cut? Or if he makes the big leagues then its Mejia in this spot) and Gorski. 

Gorski & Mazzoni have both played 2 years at AA. Lannan/ Dice K/ Meija arent going to AA. neither are Thor/ Montero/ DeGrom. That leaves Goeddel to repeat AA, which I wouldnt hate as he had a 4.38 era and 4 BB/9 among other less than impressive stats. 

My rotation would be: Thor, Montero, DeGrom, Dice-K, Lannan, Mazzoni 

Put Gorski in the bullpen and Goeddel repeats AA


In my hypothetical Matsuzaka either makes the Mets, or pitches poorly and gets cut, or pitches well and opts to go somewhere else as he can do.  They won't waste AAA starts on him unless there is a rash of injuries and he chooses to stay.  

Understand your choices, there is a case for a lot of guys at either level.  I don't think Gorski or Cohoon really have the stuff for the PCL, so repeating AA yet again is fine.  Also there are few guys from St. Lucie's 2013 rotation that are forcing their way to AA, so some ml veterans will get some starts there early.