Dominic Smith heads to Port St. Lucie in four weeks and is back to ground zero. It is obvious the Mets first round draft pick has to fight for his job at first base now that Adrian Gonzalez is a part of the plan when the veteran was acquired last week in a move that was cost effective for the Mets.
However, there is every reason to understand that Adrian Gonzalez is the new and better option for the Mets at first and Dominic Smith has gone down with the KO. Gonzalez may have a reputation of a controversial talker in the clubhouse but he will add a veteran presence that the Mets lacked after the departures of Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker.
Jay Bruce was reacquired last week and that leadership has returned to the Mets. But the intent is to get younger and by all means the 22-year old Smith provides that value even though that limited six weeks saw him struggle offensively at the plate, batting at .198.
So it appears that Adrian Gonzalez at 35 years of age, and because of that veteran presence, has knocked out Dominic Smith from first base before the first pitch is thrown at Citi Field in late March in the home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Also, by all means don’t expect Gonzalez to hit 40 home runs or drive in 101 runs. That was in his prime with the San Diego Padres and the production has diminished but he does give the Mets another left handed hitter in the lineup and off the bench.
Apparently, and there is no secret here, the knock on Smith is his inability to lose weight and that inability to hustle. And according to various scouts in their reports the excess weight also causes an inability to handle the position at first base. But when the Mets made this move last week Smith continued his offseason workout plan and reportedly was stronger, as they say prepared for the grind of a new season.
On the other hand, and according to sources, the Mets were destined to make another move at first and contemplated bringing back Lucas Duda but all of that changed with the return of Jay Bruce who can also command the position when not in the outfield. Gonzalez had limited playing time last season with the Dodgers on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his back and eventually was signed and released by the Braves.
Pending a physical, Adrian Gonzalez is expected to be that leading candidate to assume the position at first base and Dominic Smith would once again begin the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. That could change if Smith comes to camp strong and goes on a tear at the plate in spring training games.
You say this is a good move by the Mets who are showing their fan base that they are not staying still. It is expected that GM Sandy Alderson is not finished and more will be done with the roster in the next few weeks before the start of spring training in four weeks.
Adrian Gonzalez is a hit or a miss and again that is all contingent on his health. That veteran presence is not questioned but the intent is to get younger and six weeks of playing time for Dominic Smith on the big league level is simply not enough time to indicate his potential and value.
One thing is lack of patience about this Mets strategy under Sandy Alderson and a prime example is how Justin Turner got away and became a premiere all-star with the Dodgers. Turner was regulated as a bench player and the potential came with an everyday role in the lineup.
For the moment it appears that Dominic Smith will fight for a spot on the roster. And the Mets are not like a team on the other side of town that has more patience with the rookie and first round draft pick, though it is difficult to make a comparison as to how two baseball teams in New York evaluate player personnel.
So Dominic Smith is not the incumbent at first base for the Mets. He has to prove his value as that first round draft pick while Adrian Gonzalez with his minimal contract deliver that backup plan and possibly that KO punch to Dominic Smith.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso