A proverbial leash for the professional athlete is getting placed on the collar around a couple of New York Mets hitters at the start of this season. After bouncing out of the postseason in a one-hit shutout, the ball club needs to have a lot less patience for underperformers.
It’s these four who can already feel the leash tightening up.
1) NY Mets player on a short leash: Darin Ruf
Nobody on the Mets has a shorter leash on him than Darin Ruf. Does he even make it to Opening Day? The team should be open to trades. It seems like Ruf will eventually get designated for assignment anyway. The bench doesn’t have any players with minor league options aside from Luis Guillorme who might be the most important player there anyway.
Ruf needs to hit in spring and at the very start of the regular season. He cannot leave too many doubts. There will be some regardless of how well he hammers baseballs in Florida before the games begin to count. His time with the Mets was so bad that even a home run in every plate appearance this spring wouldn’t be able to erase the misery he provided in 2022.
There have been some past examples where it felt like the Mets would release a player but never did. Jose Reyes in 2018 immediately comes to mind. Hitting under the Mendoza Line in his 110 games for a losing ball club, that Mets team chose to keep the franchise legend around.
Ruf doesn’t get the same benefit of having a storied career in New York. Plus, this year’s team plans to compete. At the first sign of trouble from him or the moment one of the kids proves he is ready for the majors, it’s time to DFA Ruf and hand those at-bats to someone else.