Inbox: Plawecki the long-term answer for Mets?

Beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers questions from fans

April 23rd, 2018

A rainout and a team off-day have converged at a convenient time for the Mets, who can catch their collective breath following a week that saw them go 2-4. The Mets will return to play Tuesday in St. Louis, with Zack Wheeler looking to build upon his strong start to the season. While we wait, it's time to dip again into the Inbox:
At what point do the Mets address the catching situation? Let's be honest, we talk about returning like he's Gary Carter in his prime.
-- @VinceGagliardi via Twitter

And we talk about J.T. Realmuto like he's the second coming of Johnny Bench. Not to knock Realmuto -- he's one of the best catchers in the game today and would certainly be an upgrade over the Mets' in-house options. But is he such an upgrade that he's worth giving up a blue-chip prospect or a current Major League contributor? Realmuto won't come free, if he's even available at all. I've heard fans ask about the possibility of the Mets trading or Wheeler for Realmuto. How does that make the team better?
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All that said, the Mets may eventually make a move -- just not now. They're clearly content to use and at catcher until Plawecki heals from a fractured left hand, likely in mid-May. And they're clearly happy to give Plawecki a chance to prove himself once he returns. If the Mets are uncomfortable with their catching situation in, say, late June, I suspect they'll start looking more seriously into options at that time.
For now, patience. Folks were excited about what Plawecki might be able to do as recently as late March. One freak injury shouldn't change that.
Why aren't and playing every day while the other three outfielders struggle?
-- @JayZammie via Twitter

I thought manager Mickey Callaway said something interesting the other day when asked why played instead of Lagares against a left-handed pitcher in Atlanta.
"Bruce is our starting right fielder," Callaway said. "I think he deserves to start the majority of the time."
It's a simple concept, but that means if everyone is healthy, Bruce, and are going to sit only infrequently. Yes, the Mets will still play the platoon advantages; Lagares will start most days against a lefty, usually for Conforto and sometimes for Bruce. But as we discussed in this space early in April, Nimmo is not a starting position player right now. He's here because the Mets feel he is more valuable on their bench than he would be in Triple-A. But until someone gets hurt, Nimmo is not going to spend much time in the starting lineup.
If continues to struggle, would the Mets release him and try to acquire an alternate backup shortstop?
-- @Panic_Citi via Twitter

The Mets guaranteed Reyes $2 million this past offseason in part because of his on-field performance and in part because of his clubhouse presence. They're not going to dump him after three bad weeks -- particularly considering he began last season 2-for-37 before hitting .261/.332/.440 with 15 home runs and 24 stolen bases the rest of the way. Reyes is 3-for-24 right now, so he's already ahead of that pace. If the Mets thought he was worth signing in February, then he deserves the benefit of the doubt in April.
Do you think Callaway is a little too quick pulling the starters? has had back-to-back games he should have won. Plus only went four innings on Wednesday. I'm worried about him with this bullpen.
-- @Starchild1328 via Twitter

I'm not sure why Callaway's pitcher usage is surprising anyone, considering he and Mets officials talked openly all offseason about their plan to limit starters and lean on relievers. No one complained when the bullpen was baseball's best over the season's first three weeks. Week 4 was rocky, so now people question the usage patterns.
The fact of the matter is it's not actually extreme -- the Mets rank 20th in the Majors in bullpen innings -- and it's not going to change. The Mets feel they can keep their relievers fresh by shuttling them back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors. (To a man, the relievers say they're not tired, only struggling.) You're just not going to see Matz, Wheeler or others go three full trips through an opposing order very often this season. You may hate the philosophy, but in today's game, it's here to stay.
What's the talk around ? He seems to be having some shining moments, but I feel like batters are making contact on him way better than previous seasons.
-- @atomk89 via Twitter

Syndergaard bemoaned recently that, "I feel like I've had some pretty dominant stuff, but haven't done much dominating." Statcast™ data backs that up: although his average fastball velocity is a tick down from last season, it's right in line with where he's been previous years. Syndergaard's spin rates are also comparable to the norm. Generating swinging strikes on 15.71 percent of his total pitches, he has posted the best mark of his career in that department. Syndergaard's strikeout and walk rates are both off the charts, so it's no surprise that his FIP -- a metric that attempts to determine how lucky or unlucky a pitcher has been -- is almost a full run lower than his ERA.
Translation: Syndergaard should be the least of your worries. If he continues pitching this way, he could actually be in for the best year of his career.
Do you think the Mets will demote Matt Harvey to Triple-A Las Vegas anytime this season?
-- @SpriggsyFresh

I don't see it. If the Mets were going to ask Harvey to accept a Minor League assignment, they would have done it last weekend. There's little incentive for them to do so, knowing there's even less incentive for Harvey, who can refuse any Minor League assignment based on his five-plus years of big league service time, to accept. Why would he? If Harvey refuses, the Mets would either have to keep a malcontent in the big league clubhouse -- awkward for everyone -- or release him, allowing him to sign with a team who will let him start.
Maybe, ultimately, the latter scenario unfolds at some point. More likely, Harvey spends a brief spell in the Mets' bullpen, then re-enters the rotation.
Pat Roessler replaced Kevin Long as the Mets' hitting coach this year -- is his philosophy/approach different than that of Long? If so, how much of that can be attributed to the difficulties that many players are having at the plate?
-- @_TurnipTheBest via Twitter

Roessler is very much a Long disciple in that they preach identical philosophies. Slumping hitters such as Bruce, Conforto and Cespedes are doing nothing markedly different under Roessler than they did under Long. They're just slumping. Sometimes, it's that simple.
Yes, we're 14-6, and I feel like we're 6-14. Why?
-- @JohnArchbold7 via Twitter

Probably because you're a pessimist! The Mets are one of the best teams in the Majors right now, with a record most fans would have signed up for in a heartbeat before the start of the season. Stop harping on the bad stuff and enjoy the ride.