The New York Mets are ready to defend the National League pennant. The majority of the 2015 team will be returning minus Daniel Murphy. However, Sandy Alderson has done a phenomenal job of adding depth to this group. The additions of Alejandro De Aza and Asdrubal Cabrera have truly strengthened the infield and outfield.
Starting players from last year’s club will now have to adjust to new roles. It’s always a good problem to have for the manager, when he has a plethora of talent. The bench will be filled with a combination of youth and experience. Some players will have a chance to platoon more often than others. What player will steal the most playing time away from a starter this year?
One player expected to be getting his fair share of playing time is fan favorite Wilmer Flores. Flores split most of the season between shortstop and second base. This year, he will be playing the super-utility role. Flores will be able to spell David Wright at third, while facing lefties in place of Lucas Duda at first base. These roles will provide a large number of at-bats, but Flores will also slide into his normal positions of second base and shortstop occasionally. With all the position options, Flores is expected to make over 500 plate appearances.
In the outfield, Juan Lagares has become the forgotten man. The addition of De Aza gives tremendous depth to the outfield. At this stage of De Aza’s career, he is what he is. Lagares is a young player who has not truly hit his prime. Having won a Gold Glove, Lagares has proven his worth defensively, but not at the plate. Flashes of greatness have given hope to Mets fans, specifically in the 2015 postseason. Lagares will have plenty of opportunities to play center field, but the platoon could hurt his comfort level at the plate. Lagares will be healthy this season and looking to rebound from a disappointing 2015 regular season.
I believe Lagares will play well enough to earn himself a starting role with another organization. The Mets have young outfield talent on the way and can afford to let Lagares go for an asset. Curtis Granderson will continue to play right field, and for the short term Yoenis Cespedes is the best option for center field.
Behind the plate, Travis d’Arnaud displayed his plus power, but he left much to be desired defensively, and in the World Series the Royals stole bases at will. D’Arnaud has struggled to stay on the field, but he will need to prove that he can play a full season behind the plate. Kevin Plawecki came up last year as a rookie and showed positive signs. Plawecki projects to be a better defender than d’Arnaud. Plawecki has power, but has a short stroke to all fields. Plawecki will have a chance to get comfortable at the big leagues this year backing up d’Arnaud. In the case of an injury, Plawecki may run with the job and never let it go.