Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Going Depth

One of the hallmarks of the past couple of seasons for the Mets, and perhaps one of the primary reasons they've become so enjoyable to watch is the fact that there's a depth to this lineup that hasn't existed in a very long time. I realize that the Mets are, more or less, a station-to-station team that lives by Home Runs and while there's something un-National League about this, think about how many different guys the Mets have in their lineup that can beat you with the Home Run, Then, think back to 2013 or 2014 and ask yourself the same question.

Preferred, no, not especially, but it's working. When the Mets grind out runs, it's somewhat painful, but it gets the job done most of the time. When you add a few Home Runs into the mix, you get what happened in Washington on Monday night, which is a thorough pounding of a pitcher that really handled them last week.

But so getting back to my initial point of depth, I bring this up because of the whole Lucas Duda thing, and how he's out for some indeterminate length of time with a broken back. A few years ago, this would have been an unmitigated catastrophe that would have led to Eric Campbell getting 400 At Bats or something similarly terrible. But now, the question isn't so much What do we do?, now it's Who here can do it? The Mets have several options to fill this gap for the next however long it is that Duda's on the shelf, and it can be from within, whether it's Wilmer Flores, or Kevin Plawecki, or Michael Conforto if he can handle the job, or even David Wright who offered his name as an option... Point is, the Mets have the luxury of trying a few different options out here instead of just making some reactionary panic move to try to cover their asses.

And if none of that works, Ike Davis is still kicking around the Texas Rangers' Minor League system!

The other nice thing about depth and a deep lineup is that even without Duda, who hadn't exactly been performing up to snuff anyway, the Mets don't lose much on the offensive side. After Bartolo Colon spotted Washington an annoying 1-0 lead in the 1st inning thanks to an 87-hop Daniel Murphy single and a Ryan Zimmerman flair that fell in, the Mets got off the mat in the 3rd inning against Gonzalez. And of course after being mostly flat offensively for the past week plus, they all decided to wake up at once, beginning with David Wright, whose 3-run Home Run put the Mets ahead and started the roller coaster moving. The Mets followed Wright's Home Run with a string of hits that led to two more runs, giving them what felt like their largest lead in weeks. In the 5th, Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker each hit Home Runs of their own to extend the lead to 7-1, which is where it stayed as Bartolo Colon righted his own ship and pitched 7 rather efficient, Colon-like innings where he didn't walk anyone, made hitters hit balls right at his fielders, and then walked off the mound and gave everyone chewing gum.

Then, there's the depth in the starting lineup itself, which starts and ends with Cespedes. Cespedes, to this point, has proven himself worth whatever it is the Mets are paying him and could potentially be on the hook to pay him beyond this season. Or maybe they can somehow cajole him into resigning the same contract year after year so every season is his walk year. I don't know. Whatever it is, the Mets haven't had a power hitter like Cespedes probably since Darryl Strawberry—I don't even think Mike Piazza had his kind of power—and when you talk about the Mets hitting a lot of Home Runs, Cespedes is probably the ringleader. His 15 HRs lead the Majors right now—when the hell was the last time a Met led the Majors in Home Runs, Dave Kingman?—and you want to talk about a guy making the lineup deeper simply by stepping to the plate, well, that's what Cespedes has done from the second he showed up here last August. I know he's going to probably hit the skids at some point but even a slumping Cespedes is still a presence because you never know when he's going to flip the switch and hit 17 Home Runs in 44 games again.

Now, we hold our breath for Tuesday and see what happens when Harvey goes to the mound. Anyone got any ideas? I don't. No depth for that.

No comments: