The Mets have signed catcher Landon Powell to a minor league deal with an invite to Big League Spring Training in Port St. Lucie. With John Buck and Anthony Recker likely holding down catching duties in Flushing for the time being, Powell’s projected role will be to back up top prospect Travis d’Arnaud in Triple-A. This is not a huge signing, but switch-hitting catchers are also hard to come by, and New York desperately needs to have some sort of depth within the farm system behind the plate.
The 30-year-old didn’t exactly pan out the way the Oakland A’s were planning on him to, as they selected him with the 24th overall pick of the 2004 amateur draft. Powell has had brief cups of coffee with the A’s from 2009-2011, but he’s spent most of his professional career in the minors, and had became a familiar face in the Pacific Coast League with Sacramento in Triple-A. He remained in the PCL last season, but in Oklahoma City this time, the Triple-A affiliate of the Astros. Why was this catcher chosen to provide some organizational depth? There has been no real explanation, but I can take a guess: he gets on base.
July 18, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; New York Mets right fielder Lucas Duda (21) doubles in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. The Nationals defeated the Mets 4 – 3. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Although he hasn’t had much of a chance at the Major League level, he’s spent enough time in the minors to build a reputation of getting on base, as he sports a career line of .255/.360/.420 in seven seasons. In the Bigs, we obviously don’t want to watch Buck and Recker take up all the playing time for long, as we can only hope it won’t be too long into the season before d’Arnaud makes his way to Terry Collins‘ lineup, if it’s not on Opening Day, that is.
Now, let’s talk about money! Although the Mets were able to agree on a one-year/$1.7 million deal to avoid arbitration with reliever Bobby Parnell, they’re still working on their other two cases: Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy. If New York is unable to come to an agreement with either player, they will have it settled in front of an arbitrator next month. As it stands right now, Davis is asking for a $3.7 million salary, while the Amazins are coming in at $2.825, while Murphy wants $3.4 million, and the organization is starting with $2.55 million. The two sides will now eventually be meeting in between one of those two numbers, which means that either way, they will be enjoying a big pay raise after making the league minimum in 2012. With regard to the team payroll, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York states the Mets’ currently stand at $95 million; that’s without factoring in the possible signing of an outfielder (Scott Hairston, or someone else) or another starting pitcher (Chris Young, Shaun Marcum, or any other), and using the middle figure for both Ike’s and Murph’s salary.
Earlier in the winter, we found out that Lucas Duda fractured his wrist moving furniture at his residence in Southern California, which required surgery. According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the young outfielder is healthy, and will be heading to Port St. Lucie next week to get some extra hitting in with coach Dave Hudgens. In his interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN, Alderson basically said that Duda was the closest New York has to a “sure thing” in the outfield, as we anticipated he would be getting every chance to start because of his power potential. Rich Sparago shared his thoughts on this topic late last night on Rising Apple.
Duda struggled with consistency in 2012, ending the season hitting .239/.329/.389 with 15 homers, and 57 RBI in 459 plate appearances at the Big League level, while also receiving one demotion to Triple-A. Hudgens will be working with Lucas to duplicate his cage swing during games, which is what Davis and David Wright both do. For me, a couple of the keys to being a good hitter are muscle memory and not thinking about the pitch, but reacting to it. It looks like Hudgens will be trying to instill some confidence in Duda with this extra time they will be spending together, allowing him to realize his swing is powerful enough to do damage to a pitch without any added force. Let’s hope he gets through to him, because New York could certainly use some more home runs coming from his bat this season.