As has been a recurring theme in the Mets last few years, the injury bug has hit and its done a drastic reshaping on the entire roster in a matter of three weeks. How will the Mets manage to handle the loss of key players, with the addition of new, younger players who are talented, but untried at the MLB level.
With the rash of injuries on the offensive side of the ball, the Mets have three new players occupying their team and two of them are riding the pine at the moment. The new look bench at the moment replaces a good defensive player (Cedeno) with a player with endless potential and growing versatility/hitting prowess which would be 2B/SS/CF Jordany Valdespin. Valdespin had a breakout year between AA and AAA in 2011, hitting .294 with 17 home runs, 60 RBI and 37 SB’s. ‘Spin’s biggest flaw thus far has been an inability to draw walks. However, this season in 78 AB’s at Buffalo, Jordany had a 5/7 BB/K ratio which shows signs of improvement in either pitch recognition or contact ability. While he does have versatility on his side, with Cedeno on the shelf he will be seeing most of his time in the infield.
Jason Bay (slight rib fracture) was placed on the DL Tuesday, and to fill his spot came 25 year old Buffalo Bisons 1B/3B Zach Lutz. While Lutz does not fill the extra outfield spot, Lutz does provide the Mets with another right-handed bat, and a power bat at that. Zach has always posted good ISO numbers when he has played, and across four levels in 2010 put up 19 HR in 309 AB’s. Power like that doesn’t grow on trees, but when you play two positions occupied by David Wright and Ike Davis, that will not be the quickest trip to the big show. The knocks on Lutz are inability to consistently make contact, striking out in nearly 25% of his at-bats. However, the only RH options on the bench have been Scott Hairston, Mike Nickeas and Ronny Cedeno. With Bay’s injury, Hairston & Mike Baxter will be part of a platoon until the return of Andres Torres. The complex situation right now is Torres rehab, because once he returns it becomes a guessing game as to who stays and who goes.
With the bench as it stands, it will consist of Mike Nickeas, Jordany Valdespin, Justin Turner, Zach Lutz and one of Mike Baxter or Scott Hairston depending on the pitching matchup. The only downside in this is the bench will be leaning heavily on power to the right side, with the left side being more of a contact based approach.
Logic would say the first bat off the bench against lefties for power will be Hairston, and the first bat up against righties will be Baxter due to contact. While this bench provides more versatility and offensive prowess with Lutz and Valdespin, taking 15+ years of MLB experience off the team does hurt it. Hopefully, this two-week tryout can provide the Mets a sense of where the future lies with these two players.