Another New York Mets Spring Training is set to begin. Here’s what you should look for this preseason.
Pitchers and catchers are reporting, workouts are starting, and Opening Day is just around the corner. Between now and then, however, the New York Mets have some questions to answer about a roster that has seen a significant makeover from when the team last took the field.
Spring Training is the perfect way to answer these questions. While many teams more or less know the nine players and rotation they’ll trot out when the season begins, this time of year will be a little more exciting for Mets fans.
In addition to seeing a slew of new faces at almost every position, Mets fans will have added excitement and drama as a number of position battles play out in March. Here are just a few of the areas I am keeping my eye on this spring, assuming Brodie Van Wagenen is done making moves before Opening Day.
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Who Completes the Outfield?
Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are locks, but from there it is a bit uncertain. Will Juan Lagares and newcomer Keon Broxton platoon in center field? Will one of the non-roster invitees – Gregor Blanco, Rajai Davis or Rymer Liriano – impress enough to earn a spot on the 25-man roster? Will Tim Tebow be great or the greatest?
No matter what happens in Spring Training, the battle for an outfield spot and major league depth is an important one for the Mets, especially with Yoenis Cespedes on the Injured List. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Lagares as the odd-man out at the start of the year, particularly if Rajai Davis or J.D. Davis show a little more on the offensive side.
What Does the Infield Look Like?
One thing the Mets are not lacking in 2019 is depth. At this point in the offseason, the question is how Van Wagenen and manager Mickey Callaway plan to deploy it.
I expect the middle of the infield to feature Amed Rosario and Robinson Cano, but where do they go from there? Will Dominic Smith earn the Opening Day start at first base or do the Mets give up a little bit of player control to give Peter Alonso his much overdue shot? Do both of them start the year in AAA?
In addition to seeing how Jed Lowrie and Jeff McNeil fit into the equation, I am most looking forward to seeing how Todd Frazier performs in Florida. It’s safe to say 2018 for Frazier was not what he or the fans wanted or expected, so look for the Toddfather to right the ship this time around.
How Will the Bullpen Shake Out?
While some of us at Rising Apple – myself included – are continuing to hold out hope for the addition of a solid fifth starter for the rotation, all eyes should be on the team’s bullpen. Jeurys Familia comes back to Queens in a setup role, one he held before becoming the closer in 2015, and Edwin Diaz is one of the best closers in the game.
The question here is how Callaway navigates the later stages of the game to get to those two. While I’m encouraged by what I saw from the likes of Daniel Zamora last year, as well as the results from Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman in the bullpen, I am interested to see how left-hander Justin Wilson fares and whether or not Luis Avilan, Hector Santiago, or First Team All-Names candidate Arquimedes Caminero can claim a spot with the big club.
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The Mets will play 32 games in the Grapefruit League this year, including split-squad days. Each one will bring fans a little closer to knowing who will be in the clubhouse when the team opens the 2019 season at Washington on Thursday, March 28. What storylines are you most excited to watch?