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).

A lifelong Mets fan who never stopped believin'
  1. Andy May 12, 2015 at 2:12 pm
    I would say keep Plawecki and d’Arnaud with the Mets as more of a 50/50 combination, and trade or DFA Recker. They may not have complimentary platoon splits, but it’s rare to have two catchers with such good bats, and it’s common for catchers to get worn out because being behind the plate is more physically strenuous than other positions. By alternating days, and available to pinch-hit (or DH in interleague games), is there a chance we could extend the careers of both catchers?
    • Andy May 12, 2015 at 2:14 pm
      Sorry, I meant by having each of the two young catchers available to pinch-hit or DH on days when the other is behind the plate.
  2. Ryan Guderyon May 12, 2015 at 2:29 pm
    Yes Andy, it would be nice to have Plawecki available to pinch-hit. But we have to think about his future in this league— and that isn’t as a backup. He’s still young, and personally I would rather have him improving in Vegas rather than wasting his rookie season (or longer) backing up d’Arnaud. The way it’s looking now it seems that one of the two will have to be traded eventually, it’s just a matter of who and when.
    • Andy May 12, 2015 at 5:46 pm
      Well I was thinking d’Arnaud and Plawecki would each get approximately 50% of the starts at catcher. It seems as if catchers are injured more and have shorter careers than other position players, so couldn’t the Mets have 2 good catchers for a much longer time period if they split the playing time?

      I don’t understand the need to trade one. Everyone keeps 2 catchers on the roster anyway, so rather than have a main catcher and a backup, the Mets could have two main catchers splitting the starts 50/50.

  3. Reese May 12, 2015 at 3:43 pm
    Hmmn….in the what have you done for me lately category, you said, “the move finally paid off Sunday” in Monell’s whopping 2nd AB as a Met. Terry Collins does what he usually does when a red-hot player comes up from the minors — buries him on the bench until he’s ice cold. I’m glad Monell got a chance and delivered, but because he’s a new face to the manager he’s buried behind “Swish” Nieuwenhuis who’s hitting a lofty .111 with a .185 SLG and striking out in over 1/3 of his ABs. A good manager would, if not ride the hot hand, at least sit on the cold one.

    I’d opt for keeping both d’Arnaud and Plawecki with Monell replacing the career sub-Mendoza line Recker.

  4. Bat May 12, 2015 at 3:57 pm
    Given Plaw’s limited time in AAA, I’m nearly certain he’ll be returned to Vegas.

    When TDA is injured again in 2015 – not “if” but “when” – Plaw will return to New York and play full-time with Recker and/or Monell spelling him.

  5. Extragooey May 12, 2015 at 4:35 pm
    In the short term, you send Plawecki down. In the long term, you have to trade either d’Arnaud or Plawecki. Which short stop would you want to acquire? I’m not exciting about any of them that’s available. Starlin Castro talk is being revisited with the Mets playing the Cubs, but his offense doesn’t impress me. I’d rather deal with Flores’ lack of defense and see if he can deliver the offense. The same with Segura on the Brewers, not excited about him either. Tulo? Maybe, if the Rockies don’t ask an arm and a leg.
    • Joe Janish May 12, 2015 at 6:06 pm
      Why bother with any of these shortstops you mention? Can’t the Mets coax Cal Ripken, Jr. or Robin Yount out of retirement? Is Honus Wagner still alive? Or if Plawecki keeps hitting just put him at shortstop. Worse comes to worst I bet the Rox will take Recker, Nieuwenhuis, and Alex Torres’ hat in return for Tulo — but I’d do that only if Colorado agrees to pay off 90% of Tulo’s salary.
  6. Enrique May 20, 2015 at 10:00 pm
    I think the Mets need to fire Collins and put some fire in this team, the Nats are blowing by them and getting shut out for the fifth time this year. Maybe Kevin Long needs to go because the only guy he was able to change a little is Granderson. Why is he a leadoff hitter anyway? Why so many lineup changes? Why does Collins leave the starters; Niese, Bartolo, Gee in too long? Why doesn’t he make defensive adjustments on 1 run games; leaving Cuddyer, Murphy, Flores on the field when you have Kirk and others; Tejada et al on the bench? So many managerial and front office issues? Are we still broke? Can we pull the trigger if we are still contending in July? Why, Why, Why? Frustrated Mets fan.