From Left Field: Is Having Too Many Options Actually A Good Thing?

An article by posted on February 20, 2014

Spring Training will answer plenty of burning questions for New York Mets fans.

Who will play first base consistently?

What will the team do with young prospects Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores?

Is the team confident enough in Ruben Tejada at shortstop?

Who will start Opening Day?

Who will win the fifth starter’s job?

How will the bullpen shake up?

What is to become of top pitching prospects Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero?

lucas duda ike davisOf course, the Mets will have only 25 guys on their roster come March 31 when they open the 2014 campaign at home against the Washington Nationals.

The above questions will all be answered by then. But here’s the thing: Last time I checked, the baseball season is six months long.

The Mets are going to need way more than 25 guys to survive the grueling cold of the early season months and the dog days of summer – and if we’re lucky, a playoff push in September.

Right now, it’s a puzzle of who is going to play where. But as we’ve seen too many times with the Mets, injuries are bound to happen, and then it’s the next man up.

Here is where depth comes in handy.

We always talk about who will be a team’s starting five in the rotation, yet most teams wind up having at least eight or nine – if not more – different pitchers start a game throughout the season.

The Mets likely feel comfortable handing the ball off to 10 pitchers at this point: Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lannan, Jenrry Mejia, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom.

Sure, younger guys like Syndergaard, Montero and deGrom should not be thrust into big-league action unless a dire situation occurs, but if any one of them had to make a few starts early in the season, the team would not suffer all that much.

As far as the lineup goes, there may eventually be a full-time starting first baseman like Ike Davis, or it could wind up being a platoon situation with Josh Satin and Lucas Duda. Again though, the great thing is that if the system that starts the season is not working, just change it up.

eric youngSame goes for the outfield. We’ve been hearing that Eric Young Jr. is this team’s prime candidate to leadoff. The problem is he may not even be in the lineup every day, with Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Juan Lagares also fighting for starting jobs – though Granderson’s is guaranteed in one of the corner spots.

And for Ruben Tejada: He might be given the chance to start, but if he falters, Wilmer Flores may be called upon to fill in at shortstop, just to get his bat in the lineup.

Depth is always a plus in baseball, even if that makes it seem in Spring Training that things are all over the place – like they are in Port St. Lucie. The Mets are a National League team, so they’re going to need a deep pitching rotation and a deep bench if they have any chance of competing.

Of course, all fans would like to see a team with an All-Star at every position. But rather than cross the Throggs Neck Bridge to see that kind of team play in the Bronx, Mets fans are sticking to reality in Flushing.

We’re bound to see many different combinations of lineups throughout the spring and early season until something hopefully catches on for Terry Collins. Having too many options in this case could actually work in the Mets’ favor.

About the Author ()

Jim Mancari hails from Massapequa, N.Y. He earned a Master's degree in journalism from Hofstra University. He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets fans, Jim has plenty of hope. He also writes as the sports reporter for the Brooklyn Tablet newspaper and the senior editor of metroBASEBALL Magazine. Be sure to visit http://www.jimmancari.com/

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