Mickey Callaway spoke to reporters before yesterday’s 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays and when broached with the subject of Dominic Smith, the skipper said that he is a “bench piece” that will receive more playing time in the next few days with the team having a doubleheader on Monday.
On the year, Dominic Smith is hitting .218/.246/.400 with one home run and one RBI in 55 at-bats since being called up to the majors.
As everyone very well knows, he was a significant disappointment last year when the team called him up as he hit .198/.262/.395 with nine homers and 26 RBI while also being 40 pounds heavier than he is at this point.
However, his stats are not the point of this article.
The point of this is that it is absolutely absurd on Callaway’s part to not give Smith playing time this season as the team’s starting first baseman, not just an occasional role player.
With the team moving to 35-50 yesterday, they are nowhere in sight of contention and should be giving all the team’s young players a chance to earn their place on the team next season.
Apparently, that doesn’t apply to Smith, which, just to remind everyone whether or not they personally likes or dislikes him as a player, was a top-50 prospect last year before being called up.
He also happens to be a first-round pick, which means he really needs to be given every chance to earn a job. And while it normally would be fine to make a player like his earn a spot in the lineup, it really doesn’t work for this team the way it is constructed.
Right now, Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce are hurt which allows Smith to play games in both left field and first base. However, once both of those guys eventually return, Smith will no longer have any playing time available to him as Cespedes will likely man left-field and Bruce will most likely start getting most of his reps at the first base position.
And, again, normally sending someone like Smith back to triple-A would be okay, even if not preferred. But, right now, arguably the team’s best hitting prospect, Peter Alonso, is sitting in triple-A as well, meaning that Smith very well might never get his chance ever again if it doesn’t happen this season.
Now, some think that the Mets are trying to showcase Wilmer Flores for a trade and maybe even Jose Bautista, who is having a resurgence of sorts this season, but the fact is that Smith is part of the future of this team while the first two names are not going to have major, if any, implications of the future of this team.
Why is Callaway doing this then?
Well, I personally think this is about a young manager believing that he is managing for his career right now, knowing that this team has fallen well short of expectations and feeling like he could be a potential casualty as a result.
So, in turn, he is going out there each day trying to put out a lineup card with the best chance to win that day, and ignoring any development issues or the future in the process.