Written by Steven Nosomowitz
Edited by Webleedorangeandblue
For the 2017 baseball season, Mets fan are in for something they may have never seen in a while. In 2017, the New York Mets have depth. The biggest debate is that who would be on the Mets Opening Day bench.
The latest injury to the Captain, David Wright has made Jose Reyes the primary candidate at 3rd base Opening Day. Reyes was supposed to be the Mets super utility guy off the bench who could fill in at 3rd, shortstop, 2nd and a little bit of the outfield. Let’s preview what could be the rest of the bench.
I think the Mets should have 5-man bench. A team needs to have at least 2 guys for the outfield and 2 guys for the infield plus a backup catcher. The biggest question right now is regarding first base. With Lucas Duda’s back injury last season and the back spasms this Spring Training, he is a question mark for Opening Day. I am going to be positive and think he’ll produce in 2017.
A spot that is a given on the bench is the backup catcher role. I do expect Rene Rivera to be the Opening Day backup catcher. He is primarily Noah Syndergaard’s catcher, so expect him every 5th day.
I expect Wilmer Flores to be the backup 1st basemen that will play against lefties. Flores is one of those utility player’s teams love to have. He can play every infield position besides catcher and is a solid right handed hitter that crushes lefties. His main job this year will be first base as well as a right-handed hitter off the bench.
Another bench player this year will be Juan Lagares. The 2014 Gold Glover has had his share of injuries over the past couple of years. He is still another right-handed bat off the bench and he is a much needed late in the game defensive replacement. You may even see Lagares having more playing time to give guys days off.
This year the Mets have a left-handed/switch hitting happy starting lineup, minus Cespedes and d’Arnaud. I’m a true believer that Michael Conforto needs to be an everyday player. The 2014 first round pick is really in a pickle this season. With Cespedes, Granderson and Bruce basically locked in as the everyday outfielders, Conforto really doesn’t have a spot. He is a young and talented player who needs to get at bats. If the Mets were able to find a suitor for Jay Bruce during the off-season, Conforto would almost be a lock for the everyday lineup
I have been a fan of this kid since watching him play for Oregon State in the 2014 College World Series. I know it’s only 5 games, but Conforto has been “tearing the cover off the ball” as they would say. This will be easily the hardest decision for the organization as the season approaches. If they do decide to send Conforto to Vegas, I fully expect Brandon Nimmo to make the opening day roster.
The 2011 first round pick has really struggled to bring his bat to the professional level. In 2015, he made some adjustments to his approach and it helped him have a solid season in AA Binghamton and an even better 2016 in AAA Vegas. Better known for his glove, I can see Nimmo making an impact later in the season on the bench.
The final spot on the bench will go to Bronx native T.J. Rivera. The reigning Pacific Coast League batting champion really made an impact on the 2016 team. He is another guy who is able to fill in at multiple positions. Rivera really found a home at 2nd base in late in the 2016 season when he replaced Neil Walker who underwent back surgery. With Asdrubal Cabrera’s knee issues and Walker coming off of season ending back surgery last year, Rivera will be another important guy on the bench this year for the Mets.
I believe, on April 3rd, the Mets bench will be Flores, Lagares, Rene Rivera, Conforto and TJ Rivera. The Major-League Baseball season is a 6-month marathon, injuries happen, and the 2017 Mets are poised for success with plenty of depth to combat that.