With Opening Day only four days away, the Mets’ 25-man roster is set. Few, if any, surprises dot the list, though at least one individual may have been slighted.
Here are your 2009 New York Mets:
* Livan Hernandez
Joseph Jason Putz
1B Carlos Delgado
2B Luis Castillo
3B David Wright
SS Jose Reyes
UTL Alex Cora
Fernando Tatis (UTL)
Marlon Anderson (1B / 2B)
* Nick Evans (1B)
(* – Livan Hernandez will join the roster on April 11th, presumably to replace Nick Evans)
There wasn’t any competition for the starting lineup positions, and four of the five rotation spots were earmarked, so much of the above is unsurprising. Livan Hernandez took hold of the fifth starter’s spot in the first week of spring training and never let go.
So the real mystery — if there was any — came in regard to the bullpen and the bench. Darren O’Day was a Rule 5 pick, and pitched well enough to earn a spot. I think he’ll be a sleeper coming out of the ‘pen. Brian Stokes was fairly effective in the spring, and was helped by the fact that most of the ST invites brought in to compete for bullpen spots were underwhelming at best. Stokes also is out of options, and likely would have been plucked by another team if waived. Similarly, Sean Green pitched well in March and was more or less a lock, as was Pedro Feliciano and the two closers. The only surprise is Bobby Parnell, who impressed by touching 97 MPH on the radar gun and posting a 2.19 ERA. I’m a little skeptical on carrying Parnell, due to the 9 walks he gave up in only 12 innings, and the long fly balls that resulted when his fastball veered chest high over the middle of the plate. Personally, I would’ve preferred to see Nelson Figueroa on the staff as a long man, especially after his excellent performance in the WBC. Apparently, facing some of the best hitters in the world in a playoff-like competition does not weigh as heavily as pitching against AA hitters in a spring training atmosphere. Go figure.
As for the bench, we knew that Alex Cora’s $2M contract guaranteed a spot, and Ramon Castro was similarly set. Marlon Anderson was also retained for financial reasons, though also out of respect, I surmise, because he didn’t hit very well. I’m OK with that, as I’m a huge fan of Marlon and believe he is a good clubhouse presence. But if he needs to hit to stick around — this situation is eerily similar to that of Julio Franco in 2007.
Tatis was a no-brainer for the bench after Dan Murphy was named the starting leftfielder. He’s an ideal guy to have around for his versatility and occasional pop. Reed was the best of the dozen or so light-hitting, defensive-minded, Endy Chavez replacements. I like Reed quite a bit and wonder why he’s not the one starting in LF, after hitting a blistering .418 with a .500 OBP in the spring. Talk all you want about Danny Murphy, but from what I saw, Jeremy Reed was the most impressive all-around outfield candidate in camp.
The demotion of Figueroa — and subsequent longer looks at schlubs such as Fernando Nieve and Elmer Dessens — was deplorable. What more did Figgy have to do this spring? If it weren’t such a wide open competition, it would be somewhat understandable. In 7 2/3 high-pressure innings, Figueroa gave up zero runs, struck out 6, and posted a 0.68 WHIP. The Mets are in need of a flexible guy in the bullpen — one who can handle both long and short duties — and Figgy fits the bill. Strange.
Tony Armas, Jr. was cut after pitching one scoreless inning. I thought for sure he would be assigned to AAA Buffalo; perhaps he eventually will.
Jose Valentin was also released, which was sad. If not for the guaranteed contract given to Cora, he might have had a chance. Like Armas, he may eventually be assigned to a minor league club — my guess is that the team will discuss with him a player-coach position in Buffalo, or a straight coaching job at a lower level.
Similarly, Andy Green was demoted quickly, despite invigorating an otherwise boring spring with heightened enthusiasm and hitting like crazy. He reminded me of Joe McEwing, during Superjoe’s heyday.
Freddy Garcia wasn’t in shape, and pitched poorly, but I believe and hope he builds himself up in the minors, as I have a funny feeling he’ll be needed at some point.
What happened to Eddie Kunz? Not a peep about him all spring.
No huge surprises, as the Mets’ roster was fairly set due to financial commitments. There is a concern that Pedro Feliciano is the only lefty coming out of the bullpen, but the LOOGYs brought in ranged from awful to ordinary, and it doesn’t make sense to carry a lefty for the sake of carrying a lefty.
On paper, the roster looks fairly solid up and down. Let the games begin.