Predicting the Mets' Opening Day Roster: Volume I
Trying to predict the collective decision-making of GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel is like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube while taking the Bar Exam.
It can't be done. Not with accuracy, at least.
Nevertheless, I will give it a shot.
There are so many storylines and position battles for the Mets this preseason that my head began to spin on day one, and it continues to rotate as I type this very moment.
To put it as simply as possible: this roster situation is a mess. Let's go to the specifics:
The Locks (13)
1B Fernando Tatis, 2B Luis Castillo, 3B David Wright, C Rod Barajas, RF Jeff Francoeur, LF Jason Bay, SPs Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, RPs Francisco Rodriguez, Pedro Feliciano, Ryota Igarashi, and Bobby Parnell.
Near Certainties (5)
IF Alex Cora, C Henry Blanco, OF Gary Matthews Jr., SP John Maine, and RP Sean Green.
With those 18 guys penciled in, that leaves eight spots up for grabs. The sad part is that some of the players who are virtual locks—Igarashi, Tatis, Cora, Matthews, Maine, and Green -- should be on the bubble, in AAA, or released.
It's a travesty that Minaya gave guaranteed money to Cora, when he had a cheaper and younger option in Anderson Hernandez (released and immediately signed by the Indians), and a near-ready prospect in Ruben Tejada.
Minaya couldn't spend money on a solid, proven starter like Jon Garland, but it was OK to give guaranteed contracts to Cora and Tatis?
Give me a break.
Getting back to the roster:
No. 1: 1B: Daniel Murphy, Mike Jacobs, Ike Davis, and Chris Carter. (Tatis starts against left-handed pitchers).
Murphy must have a guardian angel somewhere in the Mets' organization. He came into camp this year on his high horse, walking the walk and expecting to win the starting gig.
Despite the fact that he has just four hits in 30 at bats this spring (good for a beautiful .133 BA), it appears that little has changed. The organization continues to quietly suggest that top prospect Davis (.500 BA, 3 HR, 10 RBI) will begin the season in AA, and that Carter (.385, 3 HR, 8 RBI) is nothing more than an end-of-the-bench option.
The Mets appeared to be showcasing Jacobs today, as he batted fourth between Wright and Bay.
My guess: Murphy starts (making him the 19th player), Jacobs gets traded, and Davis and Carter go to the minors.
What I would do: Send Murphy to AAA, start Davis, back him up with Carter. Trade Jacobs.
No. 2: CF: Matthews Jr., Angel Pagan, and Fernando Martinez.
Manuel likes Matthews; he's making that very clear. He's also benched Pagan in the past for space cadet antics, but to me, Pagan is definitely the better player.
Matthews has impressed me this spring, but Pagan has better speed, more range, and is a surprisingly solid switch hitter. Matthews is on his last legs, but it looks like he can still hit a little. He's OK for a roster spot if Martinez (.472, 3 HR, 11 RBI) is headed back to the minors.
My guess: Matthews starts, Pagan splits time (making him the 20th player), and Martinez goes down.
What I would do: Try to trade Francoeur, play Martinez in right, and Pagan in center, while keeping Matthews as a reserve.
This post is getting rather lengthy; look for Volume II in which I round out the disastrous 25-man roster.
To get to Volume II:
(John Frascella is the author of "Theo-logy: How a Boy Wonder Led the Red Sox to the Promised Land," the first and only book centered on Boston's GM Theo Epstein. Check it out on Amazon or follow John's Twitter @RedSoxAuthor).
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