Unlike past years, the Mets have a number of open slots for the 25-man roster — most of which correlate to the pitching staff. Let’s look at how the Opening Day roster shakes out and make some predictions.
First, we’ll count down the guaranteed spots:
1. Johan Santana
2. Mike Pelfrey
3. John Maine
4. Oliver Perez
5. Francisco Rodriguez
6. Pedro Feliciano
7. Ryota Igarashi
8. Rod Barajas
9. Henry Blanco
10. Daniel Murphy
11. Luis Castillo
12. Alex Cora
13. David Wright
14. Jason Bay
15. Angel Pagan
16. Jeff Francoeur
17. Fernando Tatis
18. Gary Matthews, Jr.
The only individual above that might be questioned is Igarashi, but I’m banking that his 2-year, $3M deal buys him a spot. Matthews could be gone before Opening Day, if the Mets can find a team desperately in need of an outfielder, but I’m doubting that will happen.
I’m going to go on a limb and add these individuals:
19. Kiko Calero
20. Nelson Figueroa
I think that if Calero continues to prove he’s healthy, he’s on the roster and he’s the de facto setup man to begin the season. Further, I think that Jerry Manuel has finally understood the value of Figueroa, and will give him the long man role if he doesn’t win the #5 spot in the rotation.
That leaves five open spots, with at least three going to the pitching staff. Or not … considering that a fifth starter isn’t really necessary for the first two weeks of the season, the Mets might carry 11 pitchers — including Figueroa — and put an extra position player on the bench at the beginning of the season.
I’ll go on another limb and say that’s exactly what the Mets will do, so the final five spots will be filled by two pitchers and three position players. Here are my guesses:
21. Fernando Nieve
22. Hisanori Takahashi
23. Mike Jacobs
24. Frank Catalanotto
25. Russ Adams
Nieve, I believe, could be a solid middle reliever if given the chance … I stated that several weeks ago during an OnTheBlack interview, and I stand by it. He’s also out of options and I don’t see the Mets chancing losing him on waivers — his heavy 95 MPH fastball will find use somewhere.
Takahashi has to be given a spot based on his impressive spring. I don’t know that his aging Tom Glavine-like stuff will translate to the regular season, and I have no idea where he “fits” as far as a bullpen role, but he seems to have earned a job. If I were the GM, I’d invent another injury for Oliver Perez and put Takahashi into his spot in the rotation for the first month of the season.
Bobby Parnell doesn’t make it because he has options and needs to go back to AAA and figure out how to be more consistent with his command. Sean Green doesn’t make it, either, because his submarine experiment needs more development — he’s simply too hittable.
Now, we’re hearing rumors that Jonathan Niese will be given the #3 spot in the rotation. Huh … that kind of throws my roster out of whack. It makes sense, if you drop Perez completely, but I’m not sure Niese was so much better than Figueroa and Takahashi, and Niese has options. Maybe spring training really wasn’t a competition, and therefore Niese makes it and Takahashi doesn’t.
Jacobs makes the club because the team isn’t sold on Murphy. Catalanotto also makes it because he’s a better PH option than Jacobs and can play several positions. My guess is that one of those two could get the boot when Jose Reyes returns and a 12th pitcher is added to the roster.
Chris Carter starts the year in AAA because he still has options, and the Mets have more confidence in the veterans.
Russ Adams is the 25th man until Jose Reyes returns, because we don’t want to see Fernando Tatis at shortstop if Cora goes down, and it would be nice to get a little offensive production from the starting shortstop a few times while we wait for Reyes. Ruben Tejada goes back to the minors because there is no sense in starting his MLB service time and wasting an option for what will likely be one or two weeks before Reyes is ready.
I will be the first to admit that these projections could be way off. This is the first time in several years that the Mets have so many open slots. Further, no one in any of the competitions has emerged as a clear-cut winner (except for Carter, whose ST performance likely will be ignored). Finally, the injuries to Daniel Murphy and Alex Cora (and/or others that occur in the coming days) could factor into the situation. All that said, your projects are greatly welcomed — post them below.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.