In his latest Mets mailbag, Matthew Cerrone weighs in on the outfield situation, Yoenis Cespedes, what Edwin Diaz' role should be, and more...
What's the opening day outfield? ~ @JoeBacci
Barring a blockbuster trade, which for an outfielder at this point is improbable, the outfield is set up to be J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto.
Yoenis Cespedes is the wild card. If Cespedes is jacking the ball, running well and showing strength, I think he and Davis platoon from the start of the season, with Davis also backing up Jeff McNeil at third base.
In the event Davis looks in spring training like he did last season, my hunch is they leave Cespedes back in extended spring training, let Davis start and see how he handles being an everyday player. This will give Cespedes additional time to prepare himself, while also letting the front office and coaching staff evaluate Davis.
Do you think Cespedes can play at least 100 games and be an impact batter? ~ @tommyjets
I mean, based on the video he's been posting of himself in camp, it certainly looks like he can play 100 games. However, no one -- including the Mets -- should land on that conclusion until we see him in game competition, playing hard, hitting and remaining healthy. Until then, he's more myth than man.
When Cespedes is healthy and it being a contract year, you're gonna have to run him out there every day. How will that affect the rest of the OF rotation? ~ @AntLombardi
This is good point. However, there's no guarantee he'll stay healthy and hit like the Cespedes of old just because he's in a contract year. I think this only becomes a factor in management's decision if he's playing every day and consistently hitting for power. In that situation, be it because he's motivated by money, ego or winning, you ride out his success until he gives you a reason not to.
Who's going to close games? ~ @RealKevinWigand
Edwin Diaz. But, he'll get a short leash. Luis Rojas can't afford to ride it out in hopes that Diaz "gets going," as baseball people like to say. In my world, he either immediately gets it going or he steps aside in favor of whomever Rojas and Brodie Van Wagenen believe has the track record and mental toughness to succeed in those game situations.
If I had to bet, I'd say the job goes to Seth Lugo because he's shown he can handle the role in high-leverage, late-season moments and do it under the spotlight of New York. After him, probably Jeurys Familia or Dellin Betances, though given the statistical revolution in baseball and the new-school thinking from new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, it's possible he and Rojas solve it by committee.
Who's the backup catcher. Are there any decent free agents available? ~ @RealKevinWigand
I can't see any reason why Rene Rivera doesn't get the job. Tomas Nido is not good enough and Ali Sanchez does not yet provide more than Rivera, who has a terrific track record working with Noah Syndergaard.
Also, because he's been this team's backup before, Rivera enters camp knowing most of the pitching staff. So, unlike bringing in a free agent after pitchers and catchers have already started working out, Rivera doesn't need to spend tons of time getting to know guys and indoctrinating himself with their routines, mindset and repertoires.
Rank the following in terms of importance for a bounceback: Thor, Edwin, Cano, Familia, Lowrie, Cespedes. ~ @chez1er
1) Diaz, because him shutting down the end of the game will have a positive ripple effect on the rest of the staff.
2) Syndergaard, because among the entire staff he'll likely spend the second-most amount of time on the mound.
3) Cano, because he keeps the line moving and provides protection and experience for the rest of the lineup.
4) Cespedes, because if he's hot, hitting him behind Pete Alonso would be amazing, captivating and inspiring.
5) Familia, because bullpen.
6) Lowrie is last because they lived without him last year and they can live without him again.
Is the team banking on trying to trade one of their six starters during spring training if they're all healthy? ~ @sjmets
I don't think so. That ship has sailed it seems, unless of course someone comes calling and wants to overpay. It seems this happens every season for most teams and it's exactly why you go get depth in the rotation and bullpen, because nothing ever plays out the way it is drawn up on paper.
Someone will get hurt at some point, or someone will struggle, and need to be sat down, demoted or put on the injured list. It happens to nearly every team in every season, especially the Mets. Keep them, keep them all!
When you say that GMs around the league hold McNeil as a high value player, but then refuse to trade him for Betts or Arenado, why the hell does his value even matter? I like the guy, but this is like if the '98 Mets said they wouldn't trade Alfonzo for Chipper. Ridiculous. ~ @metnix1
This is an interesting point. It's like if everything is great than nothing is great, it all cancels itself out and ends up at zero. I get it. I think the overall point is that McNeil is awesome and viewed as such around baseball, not just by the Mets and their fans.
There have been countless times in history where I felt a player was fantastic and a huge asset, yet fans from other teams didn't understand what I was thinking or seeing. This is not the case with McNeil, who has a financial value that likely tips the scale.
How often he was asked about in trade, and based on the fact that the Mets didn't want to move him -- even in a deal for Francisco Lindor or Mookie Betts -- indicates McNeil is not a fantasy. He's legit. You know it, I know it and it's nice to know the rest of the league knows it.
Why is Nimmo still on this team??? ~ @Louis_Onofrio
Because he's really, really good and -- with his personality and story -- could become one of the most popular players in team history. Seriously. I truly believe that if he improves on his 4.0 WAR season from 2018 and does it with his smile and authentic love for the game and this team, he'll have a massive impact on us and the team's identity.
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.