4 New York Mets Most in Danger of Losing Their Spot in 2013
Even though there are 161 more games to play, a number of New York Mets players are already in danger of losing their spot sometime this season.
Many Mets players earned or lost key Opening Day roles through spring training. Last week, Kirk Nieuwenhuis already lost his starting center fielder job to the emerging Collin Cowgill.
Here are four other Mets players most in danger of losing their spot in 2013:
Recker has earned the backup catcher role, but once phenom Travis d'Arnaud is ready to move to the majors Recker may be the one sent down.
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Anthony Recker overachieved this spring, and he rightfully earned the role of backup catcher to John Buck.
But no matter how well Recker plays this season, there is a good chance he will get called down to Triple-A midseason.
The culprit behind Recker's demotion will be the phenom that the Mets acquired in the R.A. Dickey trade: Travis d'Arnaud.
D'Arnaud, who missed much of last season recovering from a knee injury, proved this spring that he is fully recovered. More than that, d'Arnaud's .343 average and four doubles proved that he is ready for the majors. In 35 at-bats, d'Arnaud also had a respectable four walks and six strikeouts.
Recker's stats are comparable to d'Arnaud's, with a .310 average and three doubles in 29 at-bats.
But d'Arnaud is the top catching prospect in baseball. It is only a matter of time before he makes his long-awaited major league debut.
Unfortunately, the player sent down for d'Arnaud may end up being Recker.
Duda recovered to post decent overall numbers in spring training, but he did not get a hit in over half of his games.
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After a horrific start to spring training for Lucas Duda in which he was working on his swing, he recovered to put together a decent spring.
In 63 at-bats, Duda hit .270 with four doubles, five home runs and 13 RBI. He also had an unflattering 18 strikeouts to four walks.
To his credit, Duda did record every double and home run in March. That is especially impressive given the limited playing time in spring training.
Nonetheless, Duda did not record a single hit in 13 of his 23 games this spring. Despite the impressive power numbers, Duda will not last long this season with that kind of inconsistency.
Duda could be replaced by a couple of players on the Mets. Jordany Valdespin had a superb spring and winter ball season, but his defense is as much a liability as Duda's. Mike Baxter is a serviceable outfielder, but his problems this spring came at the plate.
The weak outfield was expected to be led by Duda and Nieuwenhuis. Nieuwenhuis already lost his starting job, and Duda could be next.
Hefner surprised early this spring, but if he continues his recent struggles he may lose his rotation spot.
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After recovering from a recent line drive off the elbow, Jeremy Hefner has had a surprisingly successful spring.
But Hefner struggled in his recent outings, culminating in allowing three home runs and four hits in two innings against the Baltimore Orioles.
After a 2.61 ERA in mid-March, Hefner's ERA by the end of spring skyrocketed to 4.62. In 25.1 innings, Hefner has given up an abysmal 26 hits, eight home runs, seven walks and 21 strikeouts.
He has allowed a home run in three of his last four outings.
Nevertheless, Hefner is slated to be the fifth starter in the rotation, replacing Johan Santana. The former ace has gone from a two-time Cy Young winner with the Minnesota Twins to a two-time reconstructive shoulder surgery patient with the Mets.
Another possible scenario is the Mets' other phenom, Zack Wheeler, replacing Hefner midseason.
But after Hefner's recent struggles, he will be on a short leash. The pitching staff is already shorthanded, and there will be no room for error this season.
Parnell is a capable reliever but has struggled as a closer, and he must learn consistency in that new role.
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The closer role always seems to be a tough one for the Mets to fill, and the newest full-time contestant is Bobby Parnell.
Parnell was a great setup man last season, but a pitiful closer.
In 2012, the 28-year-old Parnell had an excellent 2.49 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. But he was also 7-for-12 in save opportunities. With last year's closer Frank Francisco out indefinitely, Parnell is the new full-time closer this year.
Yet he must convert significantly more than half of his save chances.
This spring, though, Parnell has been outstanding.
In 13 games, Parnell has a 2.13 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 12.2 innings. Parnell has only allowed nine hits and three walks, equating to an amazing .196 BAA and 0.95 WHIP. He has only allowed three earned runs all spring.
However, it is worth noting that all three earned runs came in one outing. Against the division rival Washington Nationals, Parnell gave up four hits, three runs, one walk and no strikeouts in one inning of work. The outing was also notably a blown save. Parnell converted his other two save opportunities easily.
But take away that outing, and Parnell is looking at an unbelievable 0.00 ERA, .142 BAA and 0.55 WHIP.
As impressive as those numbers are, they bear little effect on Parnell's job security. Like any Mets closer, the margin for error is very slim.
If Parnell accumulates a few blown saves in short succession, he could quickly lose his role as full-time closer.