MONTREAL -- What does a rival scout assigned to tracking the Mets think about the ballclub? Here’s the uncensored opinion from a veteran of the business …
InfieldJeff Roberson/Associated Press
Ruben Tejada remains the Opening Day shortstop.
Travis d’Arnaud struggled hitting again this spring training, and there is legitimate concern about how he will fare at the plate. The probability is Ike Davis platoons with Josh Satin to start the season, with Lucas Duda a lefty bat for the bench. Daniel Murphy, slowed by calf and shin injuries this month, handles second base. Ruben Tejada pretty much is the shortstop by default after an underwhelming spring training. David Wright is now 31.
Scout’s take: “The group is defensively challenged. When David plays well, he’s the best defender of the bunch, but he’s had his moments, too. The two middle-infield guys are very challenged. Neither of them has real good hands. They have trouble making double plays. Ike is probably the most accomplished first baseman there, but he’s worried so much about his hitting. I pulled my old, 2011 stuff up on Ike. You should see that write-up versus now. I mean, I used words like ‘lethal’ power back then. The term lethal and Ike Davis, it’s been a while.”
Curtis Granderson received $60 million over four years to man right field. Chris Young will get the chance to be an everyday player, even though he is a career .225 hitter versus righty pitching. The debate is whether Juan Lagares or Eric Young Jr. is the other regular. EY Jr. would man left field and Chris Young center if that’s the arrangement, with EY Jr. the leadoff hitter. If Lagares starts, he’s in center and Chris Young is the leadoff hitter.
Scout’s take: “It depends who plays. If Chris Young plays and Lagares plays, it’s a good defensive outfield. The problem is that Eric Young is going to have to play and lead off for this club, it sounds like. They’re better offensively, but not defensively. Offensively, it depends on Chris Young forgetting about last year, and hitting some balls over the fence, which I have not seen this spring, other than certain pitches he can handle well. He is not throwing like he used to throw, either, but throws good enough, I think. To me he’s got an average arm at best, and he used to be plus. The only good arm of the bunch is Lagares. Lagares can throw.”Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Dillon Gee gets the Opening Day nod.
Dillon Gee gets the Opening Day nod, followed by Bartolo Colon and Zack Wheeler the remainder of that series. Jenrry Mejia versus Daisuke Matsuzaka officially remains unresolved, but both would be in the rotation if Jonathon Niese (elbow) is unable to come off the disabled list for an April 6 start against the Cincinnati Reds ... at least if Mejia's forearm is not an issue.
Scout’s take: “It’s not a power staff, obviously, with Gee and Colon at the top. But they’ve got a striking-throwing staff now, surprisingly. Both of those guys throw the ball over the plate. Actually, Matsuzaka does the same thing. He throws it over at least. I love Wheeler, but he still has some command issues in the strike zone. He’s not Matt Harvey, but he’s got good stuff. Stuff-wise, he’s just a hair behind Harvey. He’s got great stuff. He just doesn’t command it in the zone that well. I like that starting staff. Next year’s staff will be better as Wheeler gets another year under his belt, Harvey comes back and [Noah] Syndergaard is there.”
With Vic Black’s demotion, Jose Valverde serves as the primary setup man to Bobby Parnell. Parnell is returning from Sept. 10 surgery to repair a herniated disk. Also expected in the pen: Jeurys Familia, Carlos Torres, Gonzalez Germen, Scott Rice and John Lannan.
Scout’s take: “I don’t like that bullpen particularly because they don’t throw the ball over the plate. Black has got command issues. Valverde is certainly not the Valverde of old. You never know with Parnell. Parnell still hasn’t thrown hard this spring. For Bobby Parnell to be effective, he’s got to throw hard. I think he’s holding it back, personally. The left-handers have not been very good. Rice is probably paying the price for a million appearances last year. I looked back at my old stuff on Rice and he was 87-92 mph last year. I haven’t seen a ‘9’ in front of any pitch he’s thrown yet.”
The righty-hitting Satin and the lefty-hitting Duda should be the primary threats. Anthony Recker is the backup catcher. Andrew Brown should serve as an extra bench player, at least until Niese comes off the DL. Omar Quintanilla is expected to back up at shortstop. The Mets also have the Lagares/EY Jr. non-starter on the bench.
Scout’s take: “Actually their two bench guys, Satin and Duda, are two of their better hitters. They can both swing the bat pretty good. They’re both good fastball hitters. Duda may be the strongest guy on the team. He’s got enormous strength. He’s got better power than anybody on the team, including Ike, for me, because Duda can leave the ballpark at any part of Citi Field. Quintanilla is just an emergency guy. He’s just OK. They’ve got some serious infield issues to take care of, to say the least.”
Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins enter their fourth season in charge, with a payroll of about $89 million, and without a winning season on their résumé in Queens.
Scout’s take: “I feel bad for Terry, because I think Terry does as good a job with what he’s got as anybody in the big leagues. The manager is their MVP, because what he does is he gets his young guys to play hard all the time. That squad plays hard for Terry Collins, and he’s done a great job with that team. I like their staff. I really do.”