Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Kevin Plawecki knows there are folks out there who hold low expectations for the Mets' catching tandem. And, yes, he's aware that some baseball pundits have suggested this winter that backstop is still an area of real Met need, that it should be fixed by bringing in free agent Jonathan Lucroy or another catcher.
But Plawecki, who split duties with Travis d'Arnaud at the end of last season, believes he and his teammate are being misjudged. It's part annoying, part motivating.
"I think we're very underestimated," Plawecki said in a telephone interview with SNY.tv. "But that comes with the territory of playing in New York. They underestimate a lot of things.
"I know we're very confident with what we can do. At some point, it (angers) me a little bit, that they want people there. I see where they're coming from, at times -- I, personally, haven't put up the numbers I'd like. But there's been so much improvement."
Plawecki, who will be 27 in February, points to the tail end of the 2017 season, when he and d'Arnaud split time and both thrived. The Mets seem committed to trying the tandem again this year, too.
From last Aug. 19, when Plawecki was called back up from Triple-A Las Vegas, to the end of the season, Plawecki batted .303 with a .411 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging in 27 games. During the same period, d'Arnaud had a slash line of .297/.350/.571 in 30 games and added six homers and 20 RBI.
Lucroy seems perennially linked to the Mets, who tried to trade for him at the deadline in 2016 before getting Jay Bruce. As the pilot light has been snuffed on this winter's Hot Stove, Lucroy is still on the free agent market.
While Plawecki says he's not an avid reader of winter news, he acknowledges, "Just like any job, you're going to be aware of what's happening around you…It's a career. You want to know what the free agent market is doing, the team, bits and pieces of what you hear."
And if there are some fans and media stumping for Lucroy to be a Met, well, Plawecki is going to use that as fuel.
"That's the beauty of New York -- they always keep you motivated whether they are trying to or not," Plawecki said. "We want to do great. It does take a little bit to get used to New York, playing in New York, get used to the fan base, the media. But, as we saw in '15, they are the best fans in the world. You have to get used to the fans, the high expectations.
"It'll be fun. Everyone wants change so quickly, but we know the kind of catching tandem we can be. We're harder on ourselves than they are. You can't get caught up in it, but you can use it as motivation. Obviously, there's room to get better. You use it as motivation and enjoy the ride."
Plawecki lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the two friends -- Plawecki and his wife, Tayler, were in the wedding party at d'Arnaud's nuptials earlier this winter -- recently got together there.
For 10 days, they met with Mets catching instructor/third-base coach Glenn Sherlock and hitting coach Pat Roessler. Sherlock put the two through catching drills and Roessler continued honing their swings.
Working with Roessler and former hitting coach Kevin Long over the past few years has gotten Plawecki's swing "in place now," the catcher said. "It allows me to use my legs a lot better and I have more power and consistency in my swing."
In this era, launch angle is king. But Plawecki says he's still trying to hit liners between outfielders. "That's where I've had the most success in my career…My swing is in a position where I can take more shots at hitting homers, but I have my most success when I'm thinking gap-to-gap," he said.
But, Plawecki added, "The way my swing is built now, it allows my misses to be in the air rather than the ground."
Maybe that will add more power to his game, which in turn will force doubters to raise the expectations for Plawecki and d'Arnaud. Plawecki believes they can handle it all -- defense, the relationship with pitchers, offense.
Don't underestimate them. "Trav and I love working together and we know we had success last year working together," Plawecki said.
"Our offense kind of took off. Hopefully, we can both keep going in the same direction."