Which Backstop is on the Hot Seat?
Travis d’Arnaud has been cleared for “baseball activities,” and will be swinging a bat in “roughly a week” — which means the Mets will have tough decisions to make regarding the current catcher carousel.
Since Travis d’Arnaud was drilled by an A.J. Ramos fastball on April 19th—breaking a bone in his right hand—Kevin Plawecki has fit right in, playing a lot like Travis had been before the injury (d’Arnaud – .317 BA, 2 HR, 10 RBIs). The incumbent backup catcher Anthony Recker kept the same role, as Plawecki virtually leapfrogged Recker (maybe literally, we don’t know the types of shenanginans catchers involve themselves in). Recently, GM Sandy Alderson decided to spice the catcher situation up (as if it needed spicing, it already mirrored the Taco Bell Fire sauce) and called up Johnny Monell, a 29-year-old journeyman whose best trait may very well be the side of the plate he swings from. Having a three-catcher system has allowed manager Terry Collins to use one of the backups to pinch-hit, and the move finally paid off Sunday when Monell hit a two-run double in the ninth for his first base knock as a Met. So now, as d’Arnaud sets to resume baseball activities, the discussion of the catcher carousel becomes relevant. Yes, prospect Plawecki has performed well in his brief time in New York. Yes, rugged Recker has been a backup for years, and keeping him over Plawecki would allow the youngster to continue to improve by playing every day in AAA. And of course there is magic Monell, an unproven lefty that may be a useful bat off the bench for the Amazin’s. Awful alliteration aside (sorry, I had to), don’t be surprised if Alderson decides to continue with the dual backup catchers idea.
In this scenario only one catcher would be sent down, and odds are on Kevin Plawecki. Plawecki is still young; more time in the minors couldn’t hurt. If Alderson was gutsy he would shop d’Arnaud, but there’s no need to clear the way for Plawecki when he’s still ripe (cut to every reader praying I don’t make more fruit puns). Travis has played great to begin the year; the Mets should at least see if he can keep it up after his DL stint. Another idea would be trading Plawecki at the deadline for a reliever, or maybe… just maybe… a shortstop! I can hear the gasps already. I know this foreign concept may be far-fetched, but the Mets need to be stronger up the middle if they want to make a playoff appearance this season.
So, what do you think? Should the Mets send down Kevin Plawecki upon d’Arnaud’s return? Should they let Plawecki backup Travis and send down Recker or Monell — or both? And how do you feel about potentially trading Kevin at the deadline for someone who could help the Mets make a playoff push this year. Plawecki is certainly a great backup option to have if d’Arnaud does get re-injured.
In my opinion, it would be in the Mets’ best interest to send Plawecki back to Vegas, and attempt to move him in July for a viable shortstop. As for the rumors of Taco Bell reportedly making a sauce hotter than Fire and calling it The Mets Catching Situation, I’ve been told the label would just be too long for one of those tiny packets. However, they haven’t ruled out making a giant pump for each restaurant (although they haven’t exactly ruled it in either).