Competition is a good thing, and in Mets camp there is a lot of it. Many players have entered Mets camp this year hopeful they can win a job with the big league club. Let’s break down this completion position by position and name the favorites.
Center Field – Carlos Beltran’s injury leaves a void in center field. The Mets acquired Gary Mathews Jr. to compete with Angel Pagan for the opening day center field gig. Pagan did a nice job filling in last year for Beltran when he batted .306 in 88 games. Pagan has his flaws though, many question his decision making and his intelligence on the base paths and in the field as well as his ability to stay healthy. Pagan is very talented and Matthews is going to have a hard time trying to pry the starting job away from him.
Favorite – Angel Pagan
Dark Horse – Fernando Martinez
Fifth Starter – The Mets did not acquire a big name starting pitcher this winter, leaving an open competition for the fifth starter’s job. Jon Niese, Fernando Nieve, Nelson Figueroa, Hisanori Takahashi, and R.A. Dickey are all names that should be considered for that final rotation spot. The Mets doubted that Niese would be healed from off-season surgery, but he has proven his health. Nelson Figueroa and Fernando Nieve proved useful to the Mets last season, and are hoping to break camp as the fifth starter.
Favorite – Jon Niese
Dark Horse – Hisanori Takahashi
Set-up Man – The Mets acquired Japanese import, Ryota Igarashi to compete for the eighth inning role with former Angel, Kelvim Escobar. Escobar pitched in only one game last year after missing all of 2008. Escobar is most known as a starter for the Angels, but was an effective reliever in the past for the Blue Jays. Early word is that Igarashi has impressed Mets’ coaches. Bobby Parnell is also an interesting name in consideration for this role.
Favorite – Ryota Igarashi
Dark Horse – Bobby Parnell
Final Bench Spot – With Alex Cora, Henry Blanco, Fernando Tatis, and Matthews/Pagan guaranteed to make the bench, that leaves one spot open assuming the Mets go with a five man bench. Mike Jacobs, Frank Catalanotto, Chris Carter, and Anderson Hernandez are likely to compete for this spot. It’s believed the Mets want this bench spot to be occupied by someone who can potentially enter a platoon with Daniel Murphy at first base, so that knocks Hernandez out of consideration. Jacobs is a power hitter, who just two years ago hit 32 homeruns for the Marlins. Catalanotto is known for being a clubhouse leader. Catalanotto has a slight edge over Jacobs because of his ability to play first base as well as outfield.
Favorite – Frank Catalanotto
Dark Horse – Chris Carter