Sunday, July 19, 2020

Thoughts Heading Into the Final Days of Camp

The Jed Lowrie
Action Figure
Some thoughts on the Mets as we are only a few short days away from the start of the 2020 season. First of all, I'm going to avoid coming to conclusions based on this weekend's exhibition games. In a normal spring training I try not to read too much into those games, and there are a lot more of them to evaluate. The Mets didn't really look ready to start the season yesterday, but I'm not sure how ready it's reasonable to expect them to be after only a couple of weeks preparation. In a season that is sure to be chock full of weirdness, I'm not sure what to expect from the Mets once the games start counting.

I think I would expect the pitchers to be a little ahead of the hitters when things get underway. I thought Rick Porcello looked pretty good last night. I also liked the way Familia pitched. His stuff looked solid. It's harder to evaluate relief pitchers in exhibition games, because they're not pitching with regular season adrenalin and you only have a few pitches to go by, but I'm hoping Betances has a little more in the tank than he showed in that game.

I found it interesting that Edwin Diaz pitched the ninth, or should I say started the inning. I wonder if this is Rojas signaling that Diaz will at least begin the season as the closer. I would think it would be between him and Lugo at least to start the season, and Lugo is valuable as a multi-inning reliever. If Diaz slips up I would think that either Familia or Betances would need to pitch well and earn a look at closer. It seems to me that both of them would benefit from establishing their season in the lesser glare of setup roles. If I was Rojas, I would allow Diaz to attempt to seize the closer's job at the start, anyway. You don't want to take it away from him unless he shows that he can't handle the job anymore.

I'm less comfortable with allowing Robinson Cano to start the season in the 3-hole. The guy missed some of training camp and doesn't look great. I'd rather see him moved down in the order for now and only move him back up if he earns it. The Mets have a pretty tough opening schedule with 7 games against Atlanta, 4 with the Red Sox and 2 against the Nationals. That's a pretty tough way to open, and it kind of feels like leaving Cano batting third is more of a gesture to him than something he's earned. I hope Cano gets off to a hot start and makes my concerns moot, but if he continues to struggle like last season I hope Rojas will make some sort of a move. I know Cano is here for three more seasons, but his spot in the order shouldn't be based on the hitter he was a few years ago.

I'm not sure what to make of Cespedes not running full speed in the game yesterday. At the very least it seems unlikely that he'll be playing any LF any time soon. I wonder if he does anything but DH this year for the Mets. Since he's playing for a contract I would think that he's got some incentive to show teams that he can still be an outfielder at least part time. If he's hitting then he's valuable to the Mets in the DH spot, but if he can play some outfield and they can rotate some other players through DH, that would be best.

I remember when the Mets signed Jedd Lowrie, I thought it was a decent move. He was coming off of two consecutive seasons for Oakland where he played more than 150 games. With his defensive versatility and solid offense, I thought he would really help the Mets. Now I just wonder who gave him his physical before they signed him, because Lowrie showed up to training camp last year hurt. I doubt very much we'll see him this year, since any normal person with normal injury problems should have healed with as much time off as Lowrie had this year. The Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail had fewer physical problems than Jed Lowrie. Live and learn, but no team should give that guy a new contract unless it was close to 100% based on incentives.

It's been a bit of a rough weekend for me with the ongoing back problems. I'm going to settle down, medicate myself and watch some Mets baseball. Hope it's not as sloppy as yesterday's game. Thanks for stopping by today. Please stay safe, be well and take care. Talk to you soon.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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