New York Mets Pick Up Second Win of Spring Against Cardinals

New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals squared off in their fourth matchup of the Spring. Marcus Stroman and Adam Wainwright squared off against each other, both looking to improve on their first Spring outings. The Mets also feature a lineup of mostly regulars and Tim Tebow.

Stroman pitched decently, allowing two hits, one run, one walk, and struck out one over two innings of work. He allowed a first innings home run to Paul Goldschmidt, but it would be the most damage he allowed. Stroman ran into trouble in the second.  A walk, bunt single, and Dominic Smith error led to a bases-loaded, no one-out jam. Stroman induced a lineout and a double play to end the jam and complete his outing.

Big Heart and a Big Paycheck

Brandon Nimmo returned to the lineup after a health scare which forced him to miss two games. He went 1-for-2 with a run scored and also mixed in a good call on a “sun ball double.” Robinson Cano made his Spring debut as the designated hitter. He walked and flew out to center field in his only two plate appearances.

Jeff McNeil, Dom Smith, and Wilson Ramos were the other regulars who tallied hits on Friday. McNeil and Ramos are hitting .400 and .444 in the Spring, respectively. Both are picking up from where they left off in 2019.

Andres Gimenez improved on his strong start at the plate. He blasted his first home run of the Spring and is 4-for-12 at the plate. Two of his four hits have gone for extra bases. It is a promising sign for the 161-pound shortstop who has been known more for his defense than offense. Should Gimenez continue to hit the ball well, it could make the choice to send him to minor league camp harder than expected.

Tebow Struggles

It is hard to write a Mets article without leaving out the blooper from Tebow. Not only did Tebow strikeout in both of his at-bats, but he also fell flat on his face trying to secure the final out of the ball game. Tebow looked to be under the ball but tripped over his feet, and the ball lightly plopped about a foot away from the quarterback once known as mobile.

On Saturday, the Mets head to West Palm Beach to face the Houston Astros at 1:05 p.m. Steven Matz makes his second start of the Spring as he tries to secure a spot in the Mets rotation.

 

New York Mets: Dom Smith is improving in left field

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

The New York Mets have, for what it seems like the first time in a while, some depth at the major league level. Almost every position has a relevant, capable backup, and the bench has some pieces that have been effective everyday players in the past. Right now, for example, Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie don’t project as regulars.

One of those valuable bench pieces is Dominic Smith. A Mets prospect that ascended through the ranks at a very young age, Smith is now a legit major leaguer at 24 years old. He has enormous value to the team, being so young, talented, and with five additional seasons of team control.

A first baseman by trade, Smith’s path to regular playing time is blocked in the Mets at the position. Pete Alonso, the reigning home run champion and NL Rookie of the Year, currently holds down the fort there.

That’s why a couple of years ago, the Mets decided that Smith should see time in the outfield. The experiment, so far, hasn’t produced ideal results. He is not an embarrassment back there, but advanced metrics didn’t like him very much.

The Mets could have a very good problem in their hands

But now, at least according to new manager Luis Rojas, Smith is already making strides in left field.

“Dom’s got great defensive ability and I think he did a good job in the offseason,” Rojas said Wednesday to Mike Puma of the New York Post. 

According to Rojas, “we talked about him working, movement and agility, and I saw him taking good steps off the bat [Wednesday] and being efficient in some routes there. I would like him to keep that versatility and keep throwing more in the outfield like he’s been doing.”

The Mets have Michael Conforto slated for regular right field duties and Brandon Nimmo and Jake Marisnick sharing left field. J.D. Davis will presumably play left depending on Cespedes’ health. Smith could also see a start or two per week there.

He deserves some playing time after hitting .282/.355/.525 with a .368 wOBA and a 133 wRC+. He belted 11 home runs, scored 35 runs and drove in 25 in just 197 plate appearances.

Predicting the New York Mets Bench Players

For the first time in quite a few years, the New York Mets have the depth they can count on throughout their bench. It features some high profile contracts and critical acquisitions to bolster the team’s defensive depth late in games.

Rene Rivera

The backup catcher battle is going to be heated one throughout Spring Training quietly. Tomas Nido is out of minor league options and has not shown any hitting prowess during his career. There are plenty of choices similar to Nido in the minors, and Rene Rivera is a veteran the Mets have trusted with their pitching staff before. Rivera is still a great defensive catcher, and Noah Syndergaard will be happy to throw it to him throughout Spring Training.

Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith has survived the offseason trade rumors, but the ones in Spring Training may be a different story. Despite the Mets signing Matt Adams, Smith should make it out of camp with the team. He proved to be a valuable pinch hitter after Pete Alonso ran away with the first base job. The only way the Mets trade him is if he breaks out during Spring Training and the Mets deal him when his stock is high.

Luis Guillorme

This spot would belong to Jed Lowrie but his reality as a Met is dim. Either he will not be ready for Opening Day or the Mets will find a way to move him before the Spring ends. Luis Guillorme was a very useful player off the bench during the second half of 2019. He can play three out of the four infield spots well and can is useful in a bench role.

Jake Marisnick

The Mets traded for Jake Marisnick as a small upgrade to Juan Lagares. He will be a massive part of the Mets during the late innings due to his gold glove caliber defense in center field. Marisnick is not much of a hitter, but with all the outfield options the Mets have, hitting is not the reason why he is a Met. It would be no surprise to see him play in 120 games but only tally around 300 plate appearances as he did in 2019.

Yoenis Cespedes

The left-field competition between Yoenis Cespedes and J.D. Davis is a heavyweight prizefight that is going overlooked. By all accounts, Cespedes is healthy and ready to participate fully during Spring Training. Just three years ago, their roles differed. Cespedes was the stud hitter coming off a strong 2016, and Davis was trying to show he belonged on a major league roster. He has a huge chip on his shoulder and has set his expectations higher than ever.

The injuries and off-field stories make us forget how special an athlete Cespedes is. Despite turning 34, he still garners Ruth like power and a cannon for an arm. When healthy, the Mets win games, and if he is healthy, the production will follow, and he will see himself in the lineup often as the season progresses.

 

New York Mets: Dominic Smith Year in Review

New Yor k Mets, Dominic Smith

Before Pete Alonso broke on to the scene, Dominic Smith was the highly touted first base prospect for the New York Mets. He came into the year as the back up first baseman, but soon found himself in the outfield since his bat was too good to leave on the bench.

Smith came into the year as the Mets big bat off the bench. He succeeded in the role, hitting .318 off the bench. When Brandon Nimmo landed on the IL, the Mets were in need of outfield depth. Smith pleaded for the opportunity to play left field, but the Mets shut down the idea. When they were desperate for offense they sacrificed defense to make him the everyday left fielder.

The Outfield Experiment

Smith was still learning how to play the outfield, but hit .260 with seven home runs in the 29 games he spent in left field. Some of his mistake included miscommunication errors and throwing behind baserunners who were planning to take the extra base. The experiment did not last for along time because Smith landed on the IL with a stress fracture in his right foot. It sidelined until the final game of the season.

While Smith was sidelined, he continued to support the Mets as their biggest fan when they tried to climb back in the race. He was Alonso’s biggest fan and gave us a memorable moment when he charged the field on his scooter after Michael Conforto’s walk-off against the Nationals.

Even if it was to play in one game, Smith wanted to figure out a way to get back on the field. Smith was activated for the last series of the season just as a formality. Little did we all know that he was going to be pressed into duty as a pinch hitter. In his first at bat in two months, he slammed three-run walk-off home run to cap a three game sweep of the Braves to end the season.

Trade Rumors

After Alonso’s dominant rookie season and J.D. Davis emergence in left field, Smith seems to be the odd man out. If he remained on the roster, he will add depth to the bench, but it will hurt his trade value. There are plenty of teams who could use a power hitting, left handed first baseman. It is hard to see him remaining on the roster since the Mets have so many holes to fill. Smith will be the biggest trade piece the Mets can dangle over teams in the offseason and they are better off moving him instead of storing him on the bench.

Grades:

Hitting for Average: B, .282 is a very good season for Smith. Could have been higher if he did not try to play through his injury

Hitting for Power: B, .525 slugging percentage in only 177 at-bats made his presence a lot stronger than it seemed. He came through with plenty of big hits in his limited at-bats.

Defense: C-, Below average at left field and first base. First base is surprising, but he had a very limited sample size there. At times looked completely lost in left field.

Speed/Baserunning: D, very slow and average baserunner. Mets were lucky to get a stolen base out of him, but it is not his job to steal bases.

Intangibles: A+, very good character for the clubhouse, did not seem like there was a selfish bone in his body

Overall: B, Smith did not get to much time to showcase his abilities, but made the most of it when he was out there. His prevented him from having a full breakout season.

New York Mets: The Season Finale

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

As the New York Mets went into the All-Star break, fans were fed up and sick of watching this underachieving team. At the end of the season, everyone is starving for more and cannot wait for 2020 to finally arrive. Most of those feelings is due to the Mets ending their season on a high note with a walk-off win to cap off a sweep of the Atlanta Braves.

Dom Smith was one of the biggest reasons why this Mets team had so much heart. He supported his first base competitor, Pete Alonso, all season and pumped up the crowd while he was injured. Unfortunately, he has spent the last two months on the shelf. So it was safe to say he was pumped up for his first at bat since July.

Smith jumped all over Grant Dayton’s fastball to launch a three-run walk off home run to end the Mets season in jubilation. The home run was a symbol of how resilient the Mets were all year. When their bullpen put them behind, their offense did whatever they could to back them up.

Syndergaard’s Finds His Groove

Through his catcher drama and his poor performances, the last four starts were unlike the Syndergaard we saw in the second half. He figured things out with Tomas Nido as he threw seven innings, allowing three runs and striking out nine. His ERA finished at 4.28 and it will be interesting to see what the Mets decide to do with him in the offseason.

The Mets just missed out on the playoffs but played amazing baseball during the second half. They went 46-26 and could have easily won 50 games if a couple rough games went their way. Despite missing the playoffs, they give plenty of reasons to think a postseason run is in them next season. Before they get to 2020, they will have to patch a bunch of holes and find answers to a lot of questions.

The talent is up and down this roster, but it is just a matter of if they can put it all together for an extended period of time.