The following are insights, ideas and notes gathered from recent conversations with team sources, rival executives, reporters, front office assistants, and talent evaluators...
Based on conversations with team insiders, at this early point in the spring, it sounds to me like Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil will 100 percent be kicking off Luis Rojas' lineup in April.
After that, expect Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto and some flip-flopping between Willson Ramos and Robinson Cano. Amed Rosario seems destine to hit eighth or maybe even ninth on certain occasions, while the J.D. Davis/Yoenis Cespedes situation will impact left field and the heart of the lineup in a way that can't be known yet.
Observations from PSL...
Here are a few quick quotes from one rival talent evaluator watching the Mets the past few days...
"Andres Gimenez is already a better fielding shortstop than Amed Rosario."
"Tyler Bashlor has the goods to become a player for these guys down the stretch."
"Ronny Mauricio is hands down their best prospect. He's a dynamic talent. ... This kid will be a hot name in baseball by the end of this summer. ...He has two-way, impact player written all over him. His size and speed will also get people's attention."
"I can't remember the last time I saw Yoenis Cespedes looking this comfortable and relaxed at the plate. Actually, he was probably about to be a free agent then, too."
What's up, Old Backstop...
I'm a big believer in the importance of having an everyday, highly aware, self-reliant, down in the dirt, strong leader behind the plate. So, I keep close tabs on what is going on with the Phillies and J.T. Realmuto, who is amazing and will be a free agent after this season.
Unfortunately, as was the case three months ago, and six months ago, anyone in baseball I talk with all still expect he and the Phillies will reach a long-term contract extension.
"The Angels want him more than you do, but [Phllies owner John] Middleton is not going to let him touch the open market," a source texted me. "Please stop asking me about him."
Ha! Oops. Sorry, man.
Everyone has a first baseman...
Speaking of players once believed to be on the trade block, it seems Brodie Van Wagenen never had much chance of trading Dom Smith.
It's not that other teams needing a first baseman don't like Smith. The difficulty in finding a home for him is a direct result of the market for his position.
"The only way a team is trading for a first baseman is if he's a high-ceiling prospect or an elite player," a player agent recently explained. "Smith is a good player, but most teams have a Smith. What they need is someone that either has the potential to be better than Smith or already is better than Smith. And, at that point, the Mets may as well keep their own Smith."
Miami's big moment...
I've heard it before, but insiders keep telling me to keep an eye on the Miami Marlins.
This may prove to be a pivotal year for them or -- at the very least -- the first real test of their new management and ownership group. In the past, they bungled the development of burgeoning talent. For them, hopefully this current leadership handles things in a more productive way.
For the rest of the NL East, hopefully they don't.
"They have a broad spectrum of talent in their farm system. They've got options and a few ways they could go depending on their timelines," a rival source told me. "How they handle guys the next year or so will go a long way in capitalizing on the foundation they've been building since 2017."
I hope you like Cano...
Following talks with three rival insiders, I've been convinced Cano will never be traded and end up eventually retiring with the Mets.
Basically, all three see him as that perfect storm, aging veteran that -- because of the ridiculous amount of money he's due to earn as well as his age and increased injuries -- will either always be overvalued and too much of a short- and long-term risk to be acquired, or he'll be producing and just healthy enough for the Mets to keep him and justify that risk.
"It's going to be an awkward ending, but aren't they all," one person consulted told me. "This is why the game is finally, quickly moving away from giving these sort of deals to older guys like that."
Based on how the Mets talked about Conforto this past winter, all three insiders referenced above, as well as the same agent, all expect he will be signed to a contract long before he's ever traded.
"He's clearly part of their long-term plans," one person proclaimed. "It's not just what he does on field, but there seems to be a real reverence for his character and what he means to the organization. And teams usually find a way to keep the guys they respect like that."
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.