Addressing the Bench

By Rich Sparago

It’s probably not news to anyone that the Mets have quite a bit of work to do this off- season if they intend to put a better product on the field in 2013.  Their needs are numerous, and include outfielders, relievers, and a catcher.  Another aspect of the team that could stand an upgrade is the bench. While moves designed to upgrade the reserves are never the most publicized nor glamorous, these moves can often determine the fate of many games over the course of the season.

Last year, the Mets relied upon the likes of Justin Turner, Ronny Cedeno, Mike Nickeas, and Scott Hairston (among others). With the exception of Hairston, production was limited. For example, Turner hit .269 with 2 HR and 19 RBI.

June 17, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco Giants second baseman

Emmanuel Burriss

(2) hits a single against the Seattle Mariners during the 9th inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated San Francisco 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

Cedeno batted .259, with 4 HR and 22 RBI. Sandy Alderson has repeatedly said that the Mets lack both power and speed, and neither Turner nor Cedeno address these needs.

As a potential bench candidate, perhaps the Mets should have taken a look at Emmanuel Burriss, who recently signed a minor-league deal with the Reds. Burriss, the former San Francisco Giant, plays shortstop and second base (both positions quite effectively). Burriss is also a switch hitter. Importantly, Burriss has excellent speed. Some say that power on the bench is important. I believe that speed is equally important (just ask the Red Sox who had their 2004 season saved by a Dave Roberts stolen base). The Mets could also benefit from switch-hitting flexibility on the bench, as they were very heavy on RH bats off the bench in 2012.

With Cedeno’s being a free agent,  a player like Burriss may be able to take his spot (or Turner’s), and add a dimension or two that the Mets sorely lack. Maicer Izturis would have been another middle infielder choice to provide speed and flexibility off the bench, however he recently signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. Sandy Alderson has noted that the trade route will be the one most explored by the Mets this off-season. In my opinion, adding speed to the bench should be a focus of those efforts.