David Wright has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which varies in its severity. While doctors are hoping it can be alleviated with rest in David’s case, it has also been known to be more severe, as it caused Lenny Dykstra to end his career at the age of 35. Whatever the case may be, oh Captain our Captain will be out for a while longer, leaving the Mets weighing their options at third base.
When Wright went down with his initial hamstring injury, the Mets recalled utility player Eric Campbell to play third base in his absence until he started slumping and was sent back to the minors.
In yesterday’s 8-2 loss to the Pirates, Campbell went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, lowering his batting average on the season to an abysmal .188 with only 1 home run and 7 RBIs.
While his ability to play most every position is valuable (he even learned to catch in spring training), Campbell is not producing enough to be a viable solution at third base in Wright’s absence. Campbell has shown he can hit in a reserve role, but as an everyday player it’s a totally different story and his current 0-for-20 skid is too big to look over.
In 15 games at AAA Las Vegas this season, Campbell slashed .440/.569/.820 with 4 home runs and 13 RBIs. He’s a career .288 hitter in the minors and he hit .263 off the bench last season playing in 85 games, so his .188 average is an outlying data point. Nevertheless, he is not hitting and with the Mets starving for offense, they can’t afford to have him at third base because his defense is not good enough to merit continued playing time.
So what internal options do the Mets have at third base?
- Daniel Murphy – It seems like the most logical option, as third base is arguably Murphy’s best position. If Murph moves to third base, middle infield prospect Matt Reynolds could theoretically be called up to play second base. At AAA Las Vegas this season, Reynolds is hitting .282 with 2 home runs and 26 RBIs. He has 46 hits in 41 games to go with 30 runs scored and 7 steals, and is proving the impressive show he put on in spring training was not a fluke. He is playing shortstop but some scouts think he profiles more as a second baseman.
- Ruben Tejada or Wilmer Flores – Tejada has already played some third base this season and didn’t look half bad, however with the Mets offense gasping for runs, giving Tejada more playing time would most likely not help the cause. If Wilmer Flores were to move to third base, Tejada would take over at short and the same principle applies.
- Michael Cuddyer – Cuddyer has played 174 major league games at third base, accruing a lot of experience. His strong arm would fit well at the hot corner, and would give the Mets an opportunity to bring up a prospect that improves defense in the outfield, where Cuddyer is somewhat of a liability. We signed him to hit and he is starting to do that, and he absolutely has the track record to show he can. His bat needs to stay in the lineup.
- Travis d’Arnaud – With Kevin Plawecki impressing a lot of people behind the plate, speculation is rampant about what will happen when d’Arnaud comes back from his finger injury. Because of Travis’ athleticism, some scouts have suggested he could move out of the catcher’s position, and even GM Sandy Alderson mentioned this as an option during Spring Training. Without a timetable for Wright’s return in sight, it could be prudent to have d’Arnaud take some ground balls at third base and see if he’s truly as athletic as everyone seems to think. This would enable the team to keep both d’Arnaud and Plawecki in the lineup to generate some additional offense, which the Mets are currently struggling to do.
The Mets need to score runs, and at least right now, Eric Campbell is not helping. In my opinion, whatever option the Mets pursue, the primary issue that needs to be addressed must be the offense. The Mets currently have a .657 OPS as a team which ranks 29th in baseball.