Friday, January 25, 2013
20 questions: Who's on bench for Mets?
By Adam Rubin
What’s the state of the Mets’ bench?
The answer is partially a product of whether the Mets can add an outfielder such as Michael Bourn. But assuming the Mets do not import a starting-caliber outfielder, which seems a reasonable possibility, here is how things look:
The infield could feature Justin Turner as one backup infielder. And former Oakland Athletics infielder Brandon Hicks likely will take over free-agent Ronny Cedeno’s role as the backup to shortstop Ruben Tejada.
Who are considered the bench players in the outfield should depend upon whether the Mets are facing a right-handed or left-handed starting pitcher.
Against a righty, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter might start, pushing Collin Cowgill and whomever emerges for the final roster spot -- potentially ex-Rockies/Cardinals player Andrew Brown -- to the bench. Against southpaws, it’s Nieuwenhuis and Baxter who would be considered the bench players.
As for catcher, that was discussed in Thursday’s “20 Questions” edition. But assuming highly regarded prospect Travis d’Arnaud opens the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, which is the expectation, John Buck would be the primary catcher. The likelihood is waiver-claim Anthony Recker would serve as the backup in April over Landon Powell, since Recker already is on the 40-man roster -- although ostensibly there would be a spring-training competition.
Regardless, with the departure of Josh Thole, both Mets catchers at the major league level likely will be right-handed. Powell is a switch-hitter, but the other three bat righty.
If this entire scenario plays out, which in part presumes the Mets stay injury-free in spring training, Jordany Valdespin and Omar Quintanilla would open the season at Las Vegas, alongside d’Arnaud.
Valdespin, of course, set a franchise single-season record with five pinch-hit homers in 2012. Quintanilla, who was traded to the Baltimore Orioles midway through last season when the Mets needed to clear a 25-man roster spot for Jason Bay coming off the disabled list, rejoined the Mets on a minor league deal. But in part because Quintanilla is not on the 40-man roster and Hicks is, Hicks would have a decided advantage.
Quintanilla still could sneak onto the roster if Turner is counted as an outfielder and Brown fails to make the Opening Day roster. Terry Collins said Thursday that like Turner, rookie infielder Zach Lutz will get a look in the outfield during spring training.