This offseason has been filled with the Mets making significant steps in the right direction. Although skeptics wondered if the addition of Chris Young would be the only big move by Sandy Alderson, Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon were added in a push to make the Mets a contender in the next few seasons. While some have said that these pickups just are replacing the spots and production of Marlon Byrd and Matt Harvey, there is a good chance the 2014 Mets could be better than the 2013 edition. With young players like Travis d’Arnaud set to play full season in the big leagues, the Amazins could be a surprise story next year.
As noted by Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog in a piece about the young catcher, d’Arnaud could be the key to driving the Mets next season. There’s been a lot of waiting around for d’Arnaud, but I think this is the year he makes a step in the right direction, and could possibly end up being National League Rookie of the Year.
Some point out that the youngster has already been traded twice, and believe that teams cutting ties with d’Arnaud believe he would never live up to the hype he had as a young prospect. Many simply forget, however, that he was traded for two Cy Young Award winners in Roy Halladay and R.A. Dickey. He is a bit older now at age 24, but with some continuity and a full season in the Majors, I believe d’Arnaud can be a force with both the glove and the bat in 2014.
Within a few games, pitchers praised his ability to call games and handle the pitchers. While defense has seemed to take a back seat in recent years, this quality can’t be understated and is essential as the team goes forward. With the skillful collection of arms the Mets are building, a steady catcher behind the plate is a huge advantage.
Look at how successful the St. Louis Cardinals have been throughout the past eight or so years. Yadier Molina, as painful as it is to say, is one of the reasons the Cardinals always seem to turn out great young pitcher after great young pitcher. Yes, the organization does scout well and does a great job developing their arms, but Molina does an impeccable job calling a game and handling the entire staff. I’m not saying d’Arnaud will be a Molina-type defensive catcher, but the point is if he can stay comfortable with the staff and call a strong game, this will go a long way next year.
On the offensive side of the ball, d’Arnaud obviously struggled in his short time with the Mets. With a triple slash of .202/.286/.263, he fed in to the skeptics that he would not be able to hit at the Major League level. However, d’Arnaud was coming back from a foot injury, and may not have been exactly comfortable at the plate. It took him awhile to get settled in, and it looked like the pressure of both coming up to the Mets and recovering from the foot problem took its toll on the 24 year old. Scouts and experts, though, have touted his offensive ability. With a full season up with the big club and with David Wright and Curtis Granderson in the lineup, I think d’Arnaud can prove to be a valuable bat he was supposed to be, being the type of guy to hit line drives the other way, maybe hitting around 20 homers with an average close to .300.
With all of this potential behind the plate, I am more than excited for the season to start and see what this young kid can do. After Paul Lo Duca left the Mets after the 2007 season, there has been no stability behind the plate. From Brian Schneider to Rod Barajas, there has been no consistent player calling games from the Mets. John Buck did have his month of brilliance in April last season, but after that the magic wore off, and his offense quickly tailed off, although having him around would have been beneficial for d’Arnaud’s development. Nonetheless, the Mets have not had one player with this potential at the catcher position in a long time, and I’m looking forward to 2014 to see what Travis d’Arnaud can bring to the table.