Spring Training Competitions: Who Will Win?

For a team that isn’t overly strong, the Mets don’t have many openings on the big league club. Especially with top prospects on there way, there doesn’t seem to be much room for borderline role players. But, like most teams, the Mets are going to have at least a little competition. Some of these guys aren’t big-time players, and some have the potential to be. But all of them have the potential to contribute.

Round 1: Left-Handed Reliever

Competitors: Sean Gilmartin vs. Jack Leathersich vs. Dario Alvarez vs. Unknown

The Mets have an established left-handed reliever in Josh Edgin Their bullpen was good last year, but they seem intent on having a second lefty in the ‘pen. That’s probably a good thing considering their recent history of over using lefty specialists (Scott Schoeneweis, Pedro Feliciano, Tim Byrdak, Scott Rice). They already have some nice candidates. Sean Gilmartin seems to be the front-runner.Picked in the Rule V Draft, he has to be in The Show the whole year for the Mets to keep him. He doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, but the former first-round pick has great athleticism, with a nice track record against lefties. It doesn’t seem so likely that Leathersich will be on the roster coming out of camp. He probably will need some more time in the minors, but he is likely to appear at some point this year. He still a viable option though, so keep an eye on him. Alvarez was a September call up last year, and was OK in his few chances. He came straight from low-A ball, so my guess is he gets some more minor league seasoning. I like the Unknown option. While I was breaking down potential Dillon Gee trades, I mentioned the Mets getting lefties Rex Brothers or Alex Torres in a potential deal. Either one would easily get the job, but they aren’t on the team currently, so I can’t call them likely.

Prediction: Sean Gilmartin

Round 2: Backup Infielder

Competition: Ruben Tejada vs. Dilson Herrera vs. Eric Campbell

All three of these guys have MLB experience, and all played on the team last year. They each have their pluses and minuses, and each have their pluses. Tejada is the most experienced member of this group. He’s been a big leaguer since 2010, and has been up-and-down his whole career. He’s still young, but has frustrated Mets fans. He seemed to have a breakout 2012 season, when he took over for fan favorite Jose Reyes, but he’s since proved that wasn’t true. That was the only year he could hit consistently. Before and after that, he has been a low average singles hitter, who the Mets are no longer willing to wait for. But his above-average defense warrants a Major-League job and will likely keep him employed. Herrera’s potential is extremely high. He was just named the number 4 2B prospect in baseball by MLB.com,and has experience playing SS. He has, by far, the highest upside of the three,but is probably not ready for the gig. His call-up was a surprise last year, and he’ll most likely be playing in AAA Las Vegas this year, being groomed to replace Daniel Murphy. I personally like Campbell(no, it’s not because of the name). But, he is the oldest of the three, doesn’t have crazy upside, and is more of a corner infielder. His role will most likely be taken over by new acquisitions Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry. But, his experience warrants consideration.

Prediction: Ruben Tejada

Round 3: Fifth Starter

Competitors: Bartolo Colon vs. Dillon Gee vs. Noah Syndergaard

Dillon Gee is most likely gone. His names have been mentioned furiously in trade rumors, and is going to be shipped out soon. But, as of now, he is still a New York Met, and gets his name mentioned. By performance only, Gee probably deserves this nod. But Colon’s contract isn’t going anywhere, and the Mets aren’t paying a long reliever over $10 million. Colon is effective when he wins, but is a disaster in his losses. He’s someone the Mets are going to want more consistency from. Syndergaard is the guy everyone wants to see. Ever since the Mets got him, we haven’t stopped hearing his name. We will almost certainly see him at some point this year, but not Opening Day. There is just not enough room. Wait for an injury or poor performance from a starter, and you’ll see Syndergaard in Queens.

Prediction: Bartolo Colon

Again, there isn’t much controversy over the Mets roster. It’s young and on the rise, with lots to be excited about. But every team needs role players. So keep an eye on them because they may be the difference between the postseason and being one game back. Remember guys like Endy Chavez, Joe McEwing, Tim Teufel, and (the greatest of all) Ed Kranepool? All role players. All very important.

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