Why an outrageous spring from Tim Locastro won't help him make the Opening Day roster
Tim Locastro came to the New York Mets this offseason for a special purpose. As Rising Apple’s Michael Ferro revealed, he’s a secret weapon for the ball club.
Locastro has blown away expectations this spring, consistently hitting closer to .400 than .300 while showing off his speed regularly. Unfortunately, any dreams he may have had of making the Opening Day roster are practically non-existent. Doing the Travis Jankowski thing all over again doesn’t make much sense for this team.
For several reasons, Locastro should end up in Triple-A until the appropriate time comes. Let’s review them all.
1) The Mets cannot option Tim Locastro to the minor leagues without passing through waivers
The Mets need to think about strategy with Locastro. This means keeping him off of the major league roster until absolutely necessary. That time will come in August or September depending on the health of players. Locastro is on a minor league deal and out of options to the minors. In order to ever clear a spot for him, Locastro would need to pass through waivers. It’s too risky to lose him early in the year for a couple of stolen base attempts and defensive innings.
2) Tim Locastro would barely start for the team anyway
The Mets already have three starting outfielders plus Jeff McNeil and Tommy Pham. Where is Locastro going to get at-bats? He’s certainly not going to start over any of those guys with the exception of a rare Sunday outing.
3) Tim Locastro is more valuable to the Mets in September and October
Locastro stealing bases in April isn’t as attractive as him doing it nearer to the end of a pennant race. September and October will be his months to shine. When rosters are bigger in September and when the team doesn’t need as many pitchers in October, carrying Locastro as an extra offensive player is the time to unleash him.
4) Is Tim Locastro going to suddenly hit consistently in the regular season?
Locastro joins the Mets with a lifetime .227/.325/.331 slash line. He’s not a tremendous hitter. Getting overly excited about Locastro knocking around cold minor league pitchers experimenting with things in March shouldn’t be enough to convince us he has figured out how to hit at a high level. He’s no kid. He’s already 30. Locastro is what he is; a speedy outfielder the Mets need to play often in Triple-A and unleash in the fall.
Let's hope Locastro spends his summer murdering baseballs in the minors, figuring out how to take advantage of the new rules, and preparing himself to avoid any seasonal fall allergies. The team will need him when it counts most.