It seems to me that the team is not as high or as confident in Travis d’Arnaud as they once were when they first acquired the catcher as the signature piece in the deal that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto.
On at least two occasions, Sandy Alderson expressed concern with D’Arnaud’s bat and his brief 99 at-bat debut. The Mets GM expanded on that a little during his interview with Mike Francesa on Friday, and had this to say about his catcher when asked if he was disappointed with what he saw offensively:
“A little bit, we saw flashes. I thought the approach was inconsistent, Alderson said. “I think anytime you get below the Mendoza Line, especially in a young guy, you panic a little bit. But, I think given what we saw in spring training, what we saw in Vegas, and what we saw in his minor league career, we have to assume that’s going to improve.”
Alderson was pleased with TDA’s work behind the plate, citing that on defense D’Arnaud was better than he expected and MLB caliber.
I agree with Sandy on both counts. I did expect D’Arnaud to hit the ground running like we saw Josh Satin do. One of my concerns is that D’Arnaud displayed a very long swing during his brief trial. I haven’t seen enough of him in the minors to say this was normal for him or something he adopted after he was promoted.
He also didn’t pull or drive the ball the way I expected him too. When he did hit the ball he seemed to just hit them where they were pitched and mostly up the middle or to the opposite field. He rarely turned on anything.
However, on the plus side, D’Arnaud exhibited excellent patience and a willingness not to chase balls out of the strike zone. His 10.7 walk percentage will likely score lots of points with the front office.
Regardless, D’Arnaud will be the Mets starting catcher in 2014 and everyone will be eager to see him improve on last season’s numbers and most importantly – avoid any injuries.
While Sandy initially said that acquiring a solid veteran backup catcher was a top priority this offseason, he backed off on that during the GM Meetings in Orlando, and spoke highly of Anthony Recker who I think has some surprising power in his bat.
D’Arnaud and Recker will likely do the majority of the catching next season. But Kevin Plawecki could make things interesting if he continues to produce in the minors as he has in his last two seasons. Plawecki has quickly climbed up the ranks to become one of the Mets’ top prospects.