The injury bug has bitten the New York Mets, and it’s contagious. David Wright (hamstring) and Bobby Parnell (neck) are both on the disabled list and could miss the remainder of the season. Recent call-up Wilmer Flores suffered a sprained ankle and could be DL-bound as well.
With the playoffs all but out of the question, the best New York can hope for is to complete their first season of .500 ball since 2008. But at 54-64, that goal is growing less likely with each loss.
It’s high time that the Mets figure out who will be a contributor in next season’s supposed return to contention. The season’s final six weeks give GM Sandy Alderson ample opportunity to evaluate the team’s personnel heading into the offseason.
With that in mind, here’s an everyday lineup that gives New York’s front office a chance to evaluate the team heading into the offseason.
1. Eric Young Jr., LF
Since joining the Mets in mid-June, EY is hitting a respectable .251/.329/.330 to go along with 15 stolen bases. Young Jr. has been the Mets' best option in the leadoff spot this season and New York should consider re-signing him.
2. Juan Lagares, CF
Lagares has been a revelation for the Mets in center field during the second half of the season. The season’s final 45 games give Alderson a chance to determine whether Lagares is a long-term solution in center. If not, Alderson is likely to seek one in free agency this winter.
Since June 1, Lagares is hitting .286/.316/.444 to go with three home runs and 15 RBIs. He's earned the right for an extended look at the top of the order.
3. Lucas Duda, RF
Have the Mets given up on the once-promising slugger? That seems to be the case with New York stashing a healthy Duda in Las Vegas. Part of Duda’s problem is his lack of a position at the major league level. On an American League team, Duda could alternate between first base and designated hitter, but the Mets clearly lack that option.
Despite a low average, Duda hit 11 home runs in 226 at-bats before hitting the DL with an intercostal strain. Considering Marlon Byrd is unlikely to return to New York next season, the Mets should give Duda another chance to claim the everyday spot in right field.
4. Ike Davis, 1B
Believe it or not, Davis has earned his starting spot back with a discerning eye at the plate. Despite low power numbers, Davis has an astronomical .500 on-base percentage in 84 plate appearances since July 14. His season average has jumped 34 points to .205 in that same time frame.
Davis’ ability to reach base at such a high rate will likely lead to improved numbers across the board as pitchers will now be forced to throw strikes to the former flailer. Don’t be surprised if Davis goes on a home run tear to finish the season.
5. Daniel Murphy, 2B
Murphy has been one of New York’s most reliable hitters this season, but his .307 on-base percentage is low for a hitter at the top of the order. He’s drawn just 22 walks in over 500 plate appearances, and seems to be much better suited for a run-producer spot lower in the order. Murphy has driven in 53 runs this season, mostly from the two-hole, but he should see an increase in RBI chances from this spot in the order.
With just nine home runs, Murphy is hardly a power hitter, but his low OBP suggests that he’s not a table setter, either.
6. Travis d’Arnaud, C
John Buck’s baby aside, the Mets should give d’Arnaud a taste of major league pitching heading into the 2014 season. The Mets recently promoted d’Arnaud to Triple-A Las Vegas and the 24-year-old seems ripe for a September call-up. Since his promotion, d’Arnaud is hitting .302/.486/.588 to go with 11 RBIs and two home runs in 53 at-bats.
After missing much of the season due to a broken bone in his left foot, d’Arnaud has proven that he’s worthy of being named Baseball America’s top-catching prospect. Like Marlon Byrd, Buck is unlikely to return to the Mets next season, which means it’s about time that he cedes his role as everyday catcher to d’Arnaud.
7. Wilmer Flores/Justin Turner, 3B
Turner is simply a stop-gap measure until Wilmer Flores is able to return to the lineup. Flores drove in nine runs while hitting .259 in just 29 plate appearances since being promoted to the big leagues. Flores will likely find himself in the three-hole due to Wright’s absence, but it remains unclear what position Flores can play for New York next season.
In the meantime, can Josh Satin play third base?
8. Ruben Tejada, SS
Tejada has hardly earned his starting job back, but the Mets should evaluate the 23-year-old before deciding to move on. Omar Quintanilla has played great defense in Tejada’s stead, but the journeyman is hardly a long-term solution in the middle infield.
In 50 games, Tejada made eight errors and hit just .209/.267/.262 before landing on the disabled list, but the Mets should give Tejada one more chance to prove that he’s a reliable shortstop.