Wheeler and Smith: Mets Spring Training Disappointments

The two players have a chance to start the year at Triple-A and try and redeem themselves.

While the Mets managed to end Spring Training on a positive note, there were two major disappointments in Dominic Smith and Zack Wheeler.

According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Zack Wheeler’s demotion to Triple-A isn’t exactly a shock:

“I sort of saw it coming, but I was hoping that it wouldn’t,” Wheeler said about his demotion. “It kind of is a surprise, but at the same time, I really haven’t done that much to help my cause.”

At the very least it’s a very mature response from the man who made it known that he wasn’t too pleased about the Jason Vargas signing earlier this winter. Wheeler’s ERA ballooned from a 4.50 in the month of February, to 9.00. He also struck out just 10 batters overall for the entire month of March.

It’s not exactly what Mickey Callaway was looking for in his fifth starter, to say the least. The job now belongs to much-deserved Seth Lugo until Vargas is activated off the 10-day disabled list.

At this point, it’s hard to know what to expect from Wheeler going forward. When do we hang up the dream of him being that final “ace” starter in this rotation? Perhaps he’s just one of those guys that suffered too many injuries and setbacks to be that player that the Mets originally projected.

Or maybe he is destined for the bullpen, where he may be able to thrive pitching less innings. He’s still young and this might be the path to his success in the Mjaors.

I imagine it’s an idea being considered by the Mets at the very least. This demotion will be crucial to the the right-hander and will give the Mets more of an idea of what they want to do with him.

Photo by Ernest Dove, MMO

Then, there’s Smith.

We had astronomical expectations for him going into Spring Training this year. The chants and hashtags of “Let Dom Start!” already feel as though they happened in a different lifetime.

Instead, he was sidelined almost immediately with a right quad injury, after he was initially late and subsequently scratched from the first spring training game. While Smith struggled to make it back to impress in a timely fashion, we had the luxury of watching Adrian Gonzalez struggle to put up decent offensive numbers.

If Smith had just had a decent spring and shown improvement, he would have given Gonzalez a run for the starting job and maybe even earned it. Instead, Gonzalez had no competition and became the de facto first baseman to open the season.

Smith didn’t quite impress at the end of last year, so it was difficult for the Mets to officially make him their first base guy from that performance alone. However, I wouldn’t consider Adrian Gonzalez a “solid upgrade” from what they would have received with Smith. Perhaps maybe just on the defensive end, but at the plate, I would much rather see Smith continue to work and improve.

Based on his tweet from several days ago, it seems like he’s taking everything in stride:

https://twitter.com/TheRealSmith22/status/976143406471802880

It will be interesting to see how this will play out for Smith back in Vegas, someplace I’m sure he didn’t think he’d be at the start of 2018.

I’d like to hope that if Smith is able to put up some great numbers the Mets won’t waste too much time in promoting him for his second chance in the MLB. Unless of course, (though I find it unlikely), Adrian Gonzalez suddenly hits his offensive stride from several years ago.

I think it’s likely we’ll see Smith back on the Mets roster before we see Wheeler. Smith still has the potential to be the guy the Mets already know he is, while Wheeler’s time just continues to run out.

It will be interesting to see how things shake out with both of these players. Hopefully the demotion to Triple-A will light fires under their rears and they can come back to Queens this season and make positive impacts.