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Friday, February 14, 2014
Five wishes for spring training

By Matt Meyers

1. Don’t be fooled by Eric Young Jr.

EYJ can play a few positions and run really fast, which makes him an ideal 25th man. But he is not an everyday player. Just because he fits some outdated archetype of what a leadoff man should be (re: fast) does not mean he should hit first. In fact, his career .328 OBP demands he hit down in the lineup or come off of the bench.

More important, any playing time for Young would almost certainly come at the expense of Juan Lagares, a young player with promise who has a chance to be one of the best defensive center fielders in MLB.

It’s very possible Young will post a .390 OBP this spring against (mostly) Triple-A pitching, and Terry Collins will convince himself that Young has made a significant improvement. Spring stats mean nothing. Focus on youth. EYJ is what he is: a solid bench piece.

2. Let Jenrry Mejia be the No. 5 starter

It was only five starts, but Mejia pitched like a boss during his brief big league exposure. But unlike some flukes of seasons past (hello, Jae Wong Seo), Mejia actually has pedigree as an elite prospect with a good fastball and potentially dominant secondary stuff. Unless Mejia is on the DL, he better be in the Opening Day rotation.

3. Find a way to trade Ike Davis or Lucas Duda

It’s obvious that Sandy Alderson is worried that if Davis is traded he will finally discover his swing and become the 30-homer threat he’s shown flashes of. At this point it seems like that won’t happen in New York, and carrying Davis and Duda, two useful but flawed left-handed hitting first baseman, doesn't make sense.

Davis probably has more trade value because of his first-round pedigree and superior defense, but Duda is probably a better bet to post higher OBPs. At this point, you can’t be picky. Move one of them and move on.

4. Give Wheeler a chance to be the Opening Day starter

Zack Wheeler has already said he wants a chance to start Opening Day, and you have to admire the kid’s moxie. Collins has said that Jon Niese will likely get the call, but I hope he keeps an open mind.

The whole “Opening Day starter” thing is generally overrated, but the Mets are selling a youth movement here, and if Wheeler’s stuff looks sharp this spring, the club should should consider giving him the ball on March 31 against Washington. Citi Field will have a better vibe if the lanky right-hander is on the hill, and that’s no knock on Niese.

5. Sign Stephen Drew

There are reasons to pass on Drew that have nothing to do with draft picks or money. To wit: In 2012, Ruben Tejada, who is more than six years younger than Drew, put up a .289/.333/.351 line, and Drew was at .223/.309/.348. If Drew was a free agent a year ago no one would be pining for him.

But Drew played like an All-Star in 2013 while Tejada played like something well short of that, and most Mets fans want the club to sign Drew. They should.

There is a reasonable case to be made that their production won’t differ all that wildly in 2014, but there is no question that Drew’s superior power gives him a lot more upside. And if the Mets are going to be at all interesting this year, they need a little more upside.

Drew’s price has dropped because he has draft-pick compensation attached to him, but he would only cost the Mets a third-rounder. While they certainly shouldn’t give the opt-out after one year he wants, they should sign him if they can get him to agree to a two-year deal.

The Mets’ payroll is currently less than $90 million and the only shortstops in the system who have star potential are in A-ball or below. They must find a way.