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Monday, May 21, 2012
Double Play: Handling roster logjam


ESPN senior baseball editor Matt Meyers and ESPNNY.com blogger Mark Simon team up to offer their thoughts on a few issues relevant to the upcoming week for the Mets.

What should the Mets do about the logjam that will come with Jason Bay’s return?

Meyers: Bay has done nothing in his time with the Mets to prove he is deserving of playing time. Therefore, I would mix and match him in left with Kirk Nieuwenhuis, giving Bay the lion's share of playing time against lefties.

Because of Nieuwenhuis' superior defense and speed, I think the Mets are actually a better team with him in the lineup, and simply giving the left field job to Bay would be a mistake.

However, Bay did have a .918 OPS against lefties in 2011, so he could have some value in a limited role.

Furthermore, the Mets actually have incentive not to play Bay since his 2014 option vests if he gets more than 500 plate appearances, and the club actually has good reason to bench him since he is by no means the superior player.

If it were up to me, Lucas Duda would be the everyday left fielder, where his poor range and arm would be less of a liability, and Nieuwenhuis would be in right. However, that doesn't seem to be Terry Collins' inclination, so I'm answering based on what seem to be his preferences.

Simon: I would give Bay a week's worth of games to see if he's the same Bay we saw prior to the DL stint. If so, then there's a mix-and-match plan to be created among what's there, with the one lineup constant being Duda, who would replace a demoted Ike Davis at first base.

I feel like there's an inevitable Nieuwenhuis regression coming so I wouldn't be overeager to play him every day.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how valuable will Mike Baxter be over 162 games?

Meyers: I'll say a 3. To me, Baxter is just a decent 4-A player who can fill in when you need him, but not the kind of guy you plan around. Sure, he's had some big pinch-hits, but I think that's more of a fluke than an indication of some special ability to pinch-hit.

Simon:I'll say a 5.5. When Baxter makes contact, he hits ropes. He's not quite a game-changing piece in the late innings, but he can be a valuable weapon.

If the theme of the season is stealing games, perhaps Baxter swipes two or three with big hits before the year is out.

Make a prediction for the week:

Meyers: I think Ike Davis is going to end up getting sent to Triple-A, and this could end up being the solution to the question above, because the Mets might decide to keep Baxter up when Bay returns, demote Davis and play Duda at first base.

Davis has not only been one of the worst players in the majors, but he has minor league options. He looks lost at the plate, and might be better served working on some things in a low-pressure environment.

Simon: Last week, we said the Mets would be the first team to score against Aroldis Chapman, and turned out to be right.

We'll try to go 2-for-2 with this pick: Jeremy Hefner will beat the Padres at week's end for his first major-league victory. San Diego enters the week with a .220 batting average and is the ideal opponent for a confidence-building start for him.