Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Adrian Gonzalez is about to lose playing time at first base to Jay Bruce, but the Mets view the move as a way to create at-bats for Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares - and not as a condemnation of Gonzalez's performance.
And while the front office expects to huddle during Monday's off day to discuss a wide range of issues, Gonzalez's roster spot is not in jeopardy. Even before the first baseman broke out of a 1-for-17 slump and drove in five runs on Sunday, team brass was reasonably happy with Gonzalez's peripheral statistics.
For example, Gonzalez's walk and strikeout rates are in line with his best seasons, and his batting average on balls in play is .225 - which indicates that his .200 batting average is artificially deflated by luck. Those underlying metrics suggest that his performance has not fallen off to the degree that it might appear.
Indeed, after Gonzalez homered in the seventh inning on Sunday, an evaluator who has remained high on the player texted to say, "That's why you can't be quick on Gonzalez."
Still, the veteran will spend more time on the bench starting this homestand. Wilmer Flores will continue to start against lefties most of the time, and Bruce will move from right field to first occasionally. This is because the Mets want to find more playing time for Lagares and especially Nimmo, about whom the front office is especially bullish. Moving Bruce creates more flexibility in the outfield.
If Gonzalez's production picks up in the way that his peripherals suggest, he can force the Mets to continually re-evaluate. Or he can be a valuable role player. Either way, the team's plans for him are more gradual and subtle than a simple DFA. The only reason to do that would be if he seemed like a shot player, which neither metrics nor evaluators believe is the case.