The New York Mets will likely run a bench of five players this season – which should not come as much of a surprise. With a starting rotation of five, bullpen of seven, and eight starting lineup guys, that leaves five people to make up the Mets bench.
I’ve talked a little bit in previous posts about assumptions and estimations that Brad Emaus will make the team as the starting 2B. If this comes to pass (and Luis Castillo is cut from the team), then it appears obvious who will fill some of the bench spots. The team needs a backup catcher, and this will probably be Mike Nickeas to start the season, and Ronny Paulino soon after. A middle-infield backup is a necessity, and I can only assume that would be the range-tastic Chin-lung Hu. Scott Hairston is all but assured the fourth outfielder spot. And it would be a criminal offense to leave Daniel Murphy off the roster, given his flexibility and left-handed bat.
So who’s deserving of that fateful final bench spot? Here’re the best candidates I can come up with:
- Willie Harris
- Lucas Duda
- Nick Evans
- Fernando Martinez
- Justin Turner
- Jason Pridie
- Jesus Feliciano
I’ve already talked about why I don’t feel Harris is a good fit for the team. Even though he fits the role of a left-handed bat, that bat is weak. He’s not going to be an integral part of the team going forward, and offers very little upside.
Both Pridie and Feliciano are outfielders, but neither trade on their bats. Both offer relatively little power to go with reasonable gloves. Both could be effective fifth outfielders in the majors – but neither has any real upside.
Justin Turner would be a reasonable replacement for Brad Emaus or Chin-lung Hu if one of those two players was injured – but our fifth bench players should (a) offer at least a hint of power and (b) be able to play the outfield competently. Let’s leave Justin in AAA for now.
This leaves us with three outfielders: Duda, Evans, and Martinez. And in my next post, I’ll posit which one should break camp as the last guy off the bench.
On an aside, I’ve noticed that, for the most part, the bench that I propose includes very little “veteran leadership”. Scott Hairston is the closest thing to a veteran on the bench, and he’s hardly a grizzled vet at the age of 30. However, with 2011 being a rebuilding year for the Mets, I feel that it is more important to figure out which players are going to be long-term assets or useful trade pieces, rather than trying to win an extra game this year.
(Besides, we all know chemistry is a joke. Right?)