Last season, the Mets were a work in progress for the first half of the season. And until they called up Michael Conforto in late July, there was not much progress on the offense.
This season was different. Unlike 2015, the Mets expect to contend, so instead of relying upon what they had in the minors and bringing up a bunch of in over their head players, the Mets went out and made some moves – inexpensive ones, but moves that improved the club when injuries hit.
And unless things change for the dramatic, don’t expect the Mets to make major moves at the deadline like last season. Sure they will add maybe a bullpen arm and maybe some bench help, but a major move is probably out of the question. They don’t have the type of prospects to make a major trade, while the system was drained at last season’s deadline. Right now, there just isn’t a Michael Fulmer in the system to help facilitate a major trade.
With Jose Reyes coming up today, the club is trying to do what the Chicago Cubs do very well. They want a lineup of interchangeable parts that play many different positions. They may not do it to the extent of Chicago, but they don’t call Joe Maddon the Mad Professor for nothing.
But now, the Mets have a number of versatile players on the team. Reyes is expected to play third, short, center field and maybe even some second. Wilmer Flores will be all over the infield. In the outfield, Brandon Nimmo can play all three outfield position, as can Alejandro De Aza, who was kept on the roster today in favor of Matt Reynolds, another multi-positioned player.
You could even move Neil Walker to third in a pinch, while Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson can play other outfield positions as well.
That type of versatility can allow Terry Collins the chance to piece together a lineup that gives the Mets the best chance to win every night.
It also gives Collins a chance to rest some of his regulars from time to time, while keeping his bench fresh. Flores, for example, spelled Neil Walker today and Collins said will replace James Loney tomorrow.
“Today and tomorrow we have left hand pitching, so Wilmer will have a big role in that,” Collins said. “We are going to try to keep his bat in the lineup, especially against lefties.”
All of this works if everyone keeps hitting. Flores was on a hot streak, but went 0-4 tonight, as did Reyes. And you wonder if De Aza’s days are numbered if he still is on the Interstate, especially with Conforto hitting over .300 in Vegas.
But the Mets still have three months of baseball to play and if the injury bug comes back, they will probably be better prepared to find fill-ins with so many players able to move to different positions.
So this may be the new normal and hopefully it works for Collins, because with the Nationals not going away and a tight Wild Card, the alternative may be a dark October in Queens.