Like moths to a flame, bloggers, boarders and callers are all stirred up over a tweet from Anthony DiComo who has “heard” that the Mets are done tweaking the 40-man roster. DiComo hears it, Cerrone posts and comments on it and bang, instant “story.” Maybe we should wait for a team source to confirm it? It’s unwelcome news for sure, if it is indeed true. What it does do however, is give a clearer idea of what the Opening Day roster might look like and another excuse for me to pad my article count total on Mets Today.
As of January 12, 2012 (the 44th anniversary of the Jet win in SB III) here is the projected Opening Day roster for the New York Mets:
Eight Starters: Torres-cf, Murphy-2b, Wright-3b, Davis-1b, Bay-lf, Duda-rf, Tejada-ss, Thole-c
Five in the Rotation: Santana, Dickey, Niese, Pelfrey and Gee.
Four on the Bench: Cedeno-ss, Turner-2b, Hairston-OF and Nickeas-c
Six in the Pen: Francisco-cl, Rauch-8th, Ramirez-7th, Byrdak-LOOGY, Parnell-ROOGY and Acosta
That’s 23. First off, I don’t know if we should be happy or sad that a team coming off three consecutive losing seasons while staring at a fourth has nearly its entire opening day roster set more than a month before spring training starts. Is this a new-found stability or just more evidence that the team is so badly hamstrung by their finances that they can’t do anything?
Of the players mentioned, I think that Johan Santana has the best (worst?) chance to start the season on the DL. Looking into my crystal ball, I expect about 20-25 starts from Johan this year, with him maybe joining the team in Miami in May and perhaps being passed over a few times in late July and then a September shut down. I also think Bobby Parnell is being wasted as a ROOGY and would like to see him close in Buffalo. As for that bench, well it’s just awful right now.
But I digress. With 23 Opening Day spots seemingly nailed down, there are two left to be filled. If there are no major moves being made between now and then we have to assume that spots #24 and #25 will go either to someone already connected to the organization or who will take a cheap, non-guaranteed offer. So here are a few possibilities:
• A down-sized roster: Hey it’s all the rage elsewhere; maybe the Wilpons figure that fewer workers can handle the load and go with 23 players to do the work of 25. Don’t laugh; we older fans might recall the 1980’s when teams used a 24-man roster.
• Future Shock: It would be a developmental disaster, IMHO, to push any of the prospects before their time, but perhaps Kirk Nieuwenhuis goes north as the 5th outfielder and someone like Robert Carson or Josh Edgin get the last bullpen spot. The Mets most likely plan to market the Harveys, Wheelers, etc. heavily in the coming months and it might be tempting to use one or more of these guys as teasers for the steady stream of good young players that they hope will soon follow. I don’t think that either Terry Collins or Sandy Alderson are in danger of losing their jobs, so they don’t have to promote any of these guys early to save their skins, a la Omar and Jerry with Jenrry Mejia. While I am intrigued by some of the Mets prospects, I really don’t want to see any of here until this September at the earliest.
• Quad-A Blue Plate Specials: Sadly for us, I think this is the most likely scenario. Look to the bench for precedent. I am sure that Mike Nickeas is a wonderful person and has worked hard to get here, but there is nothing in his body of minor league work to suggest that he belongs on a major league roster. His main asset it appears is that he costs the major league minimum. So brace yourselves for the Home Opener tip of the cap from Chris Schwinden, or Jose Bautista, or Pedro Beato (still holding out hope for him), or Mike Baxter or Val Pascucci or Adam Loewen.
• Will Work For Food: OK that isn’t funny, but perhaps a combination of investor money and some too-go-to pass-on players results in the late February minor league contract/spring training invite to some intriguing names. Imagine for example, Ivan Rodriquez coming to the Mets and pursuing his 3,000th hit. That might be the most interesting on-field development for the Mets in 2012. Even at .218 he out-hit Nickeas last year. Instead of Bautista, how about Brad Penny or Joel Pinero for the last pitcher’s spot? Not expecting great shakes, but I think I would rather see either of them start in place of Santana than I would Bautista. For the 5th outfielder, who about Rick Ankiel? I really like Lucas Duda but am concerned about a season-long force feed in right field. Ankiel’s arm makes him the perfect late-inning replacement. Too late now, perhaps, but I really wanted a grinder like Ryan Theriot at second. I just cringe every time I think of Murphy at second (and I am a Murphy fan).
So what do you think might happen between now and Spring Training?