Instead of splitting time between the plate with Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton, the New York Mets should hand the bulk of playing time to the former.
Last week, in what was a dramatic turn of events, the New York Mets went from having two catchers, Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, who were going to share the catching duties on a 50-50 basis and neither catcher had a problem with it.
Unfortunately, in a span of two days, both catchers went on the disabled list. d’Arnaud would need season-ending Tommy John surgery. Plawecki would sustain a fracture in his hand from getting hit with a pitch.
The Mets had to scramble to replace the catching tandem. The went with a journeyman catcher, Jose Lobaton who was the catcher for their AAA team, the Las Vegas 51s, and a 24-year-old prospect, Tomas Nido who had a cup of coffee with the Mets in September and hit .300 in a small sample.
Sandy Alderson stated in his press conference that the Mets were comfortable “in the short term” with their catching situation, but that the Mets would keep their options open.
Lobaton has received the bulk of the playing time, due to the fact that he’s a veteran. He has played the last few years with the Washington Nationals and was familiar with many of the hitters in the league. Meanwhile, Nido would be his backup, learning the ropes as they went.
Lobaton, who batted under the Mendoza line last year has never had any long-term offensive success in his major league career, hit a triple in his first at-bat with the club, but has been hitless since resulting in a sub-.100 batting average. Nido has less than ten at-bats since the call-up with little offensive success.
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The biggest concern is that opposing baserunners have been running ragged against the Mets, and other than two pickoffs by the pitcher, no catcher has thrown out a baserunner all season. Plawecki is expected to return from the disabled list in a few weeks, however, it is still imperative that the Mets continue to monitor the waiver wire and trade market to acquire another solid catcher. With that being said, Nido should be getting the bulk of the playing time.
Nido has a huge upside as the Mets catcher of the future. His defense in the minor leagues has been very solid and has an excellent percentage of throwing out baserunners. Even though he struggled a bit offensively last season, he has been improving offensively with a little pop in his bat.
This is a huge opportunity for Nido to prove that he belongs and perhaps remove the urgency to acquire another catcher. The Mets won’t know that unless they play him most of the games going forward.
Lobaton is 33 years old and has been nothing more than a backup journeyman catcher who has an anemic batting average. He calls a good game and handles the pitching staff well, however, he is pretty much an automatic out at the plate and odds are those numbers won’t improve anytime soon. Going to the veteran is a move that Terry Collins was known for, and widely criticized by the fans because of not giving the younger players more of a chance. Mickey Callaway has to put his own stamp on this team and be the polar opposite.
Perhaps the Mets acquire J.T. Realmuto eventually. Maybe they acquire Wilson Ramos. Or they find out that Nido is the acquisition they needed all along. This would let them use their chips to fill other needs at the trade deadline.
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Whatever the Mets do, the catching situation needs some stability.