In his latest mailbag, Matthew Cerrone answers questions about Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil, Kris Bryant, and more...
Is there any hope Brodie Van Wagenen can trade for Kris Bryant?
The only way the Mets acquire Bryant is if they're willing to exceed the luxury tax threshold. I see zero evidence that will happen. It's a shame, because in talking with people aware of Chicago's goal, there is a deal to be made with the Mets, but it would require Van Wagenen taking on all of Bryant's $16 million in 2020, as well as taking on a similarly expensive contract, such as Tyler Chatwood, who will make $13 million this season.
To read more on what a deal for Bryant could look like, read my Notebook from earlier this week.
Do the Mets need someone to be insurance for Jeff McNeil at third base?
Van Wagenen has intimated McNeil will be his starting third baseman in 2020, which means he must be eyeing J.D. Davis in left field and/or banking on the return of Yoenis Cespedes.
In this scenario, it means a lot is riding on Jed Lowrie, who can play multiple positions, including third base. However, at 36 years old (in April), and after just eight plate appearances and countless lower-body injuries in 2019, there is no way to know what he will contribute to the Mets in 2020. He's a total mystery and should not be considered a backup plan when -- frankly -- the Mets need a backup play for him.
There are options on the free agent market, but I'd just as soon save that money, trust in Lowrie or simply hand the utility infielder role to Luis Guillorme. Guillorme is just 25 and he's an outstanding fielder no matter where he plays. He also hit .246 with a .326 OBP. If he can just cut down a touch on striking out and also get average luck on balls in play, his offensive stats should improve enough to more than justify being a go-to fill in.
By the way, I'm not at all worried about McNeil. He's more of an asset at third base, where he's a better overall player than when starting in the outfield. The more comfortable and active he is in the field the better he tends to be in the batter's box. Last year was a learning experience that ended in injury. This season I say he's winning a batting title and making his second All-Star team.
How important is it for Amed Rosario to take a big step forward in 2020?
It's very important. For the most part, the the lineup is fairly reliable, including McNeil. I'd even put Davis in this category because he's always hit well during his professional career and he showed on multiple occasions last season that he can shake off adversity and sporadic playing time and continue to hit.
Rosario, though, has been up and down since the moment he entered the league. His 2019 was a tale of two seasons.
He was a mess early, but as soon as he got himself stable and performing well in the field, he started swinging at fewer pitches out of the zone and more pitches in the zone. Not surprisingly, he also started making more and better contact overall, while also reducing how often he struck out. Also not surprisingly, as he turned his game around, the Mets turned their season around. I don't think this is a coincidence.
"To be able to take the next step I just need to keep working hard and focus on the little details the same way I did in the second half," Rosario told me. "I want to be able to produce like that for a full season. With consistency and hard work the results will be there."
Rosario, 24, is high-energy, he's got a big smile, he's liked by his teammates and he works extraordinarily hard. He's one of those rare players that -- when active, confident and producing -- can up the game of people around him.
So, in that sense, if the Mets make the postseason, he will have been a major factor.
Where is the best place to go and how do you get autographs during Spring Training?
Players will occasionally stop between workout drills to sign autographs, but that is rare. Remember, they're in camp to do a job, there's a schedule and potential consequences if late for an assignment. So, don't be offended or feel disrespected if a player runs by and can't stop.
Instead, it's best to catch players at the end of practice when they exit through center field on Field 7 or jog along the interior fence on Field 2. Typically, for whatever reason, most position players exit through Field 7, while minor leaguers, pitchers and catchers tend to go through Field 2.
To read more, including details on hotels, places to eat, and how to navigate the team's complex, check out my full guide to St. Lucie and Mets spring training by clicking here.
Jon Matlack, Ron Darling, and Edgardo Alfonzo will be enshrined in the Mets Hall of Fame this year. Who should be next on the list?
There are currently 27 people in their Hall of Fame, just 16 of which are players.
Davey Johnson and Gil Hodges are both in as managers. Terry Collins and Bobby Valentine both took their teams to a World Series, but each lost unlike Hodges and Johnson. That said, Valentine and Collins have more overall wins than Hodges. So I have to think -- at some point -- both will be considered.
Of the 16 players in, Mike Piazza and John Franco are the only guys who didn't win a World Series, though they all did get to a World Series. Personally, I don't think getting to the Fall Classic should matter, but it's a touchy quality and seems to be important to the elite people in charge.
So, based on who's in already, World Series success and what they've done in uniform, it seems Al Leiter, Sid Fernandez and eventually David Wright will make the cut.
By the way, if he has just two or three more dominant seasons, Jacob deGrom will already have more career WAR than Jerry Koosman and Doc Gooden. He'll also have more career WAR than Darling, Matlack and Leiter combined.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.