Thursday, February 28, 2008


The Mets bench in 2008 will look an awful lot like it did in 2007. In addition to Endy Chavez, there's Damion Easley, Ruben Gotay, Ramon Castro, and whoever else fills in that last role.

The backup catcher is Ramon Castro, and he could play a pivotal role. Paul Lo Duca missed a lot of time last year, and Castro proved his worth as an everyday player. While Castro is not an everyday player (I maintain he loses his effectiveness the more he plays - I just think he's more apt to wear down, and is more effective off the bench), he could be a short-to-long-term solution if Brian Schneider is hurting the Mets at the plate more than he's helping them in the field.

You might notice that there aren't many alternatives in the outfield for the Mets. I wrote about Endy Chavez yesterday, and he's a left-handed hitter, as is Ryan Church (the starter in right for now). There's no real right-handed bat off the bench for the Mets who can play the outfield. There's a possibility the last bench spot will go to Angel Pagan, who the Mets acquired in the off-season, and he's a switch-hitter. But there's also a real chance he'll be in the minors. There are non-roster invitees Ben Johnson or Brady Clark, but there's also a reason those guys are non-roster invitees. (Jose Valentin was also invited back, and though he's a switch-hitter, he won't be seeing time in the outfield...if he makes the team.)

The Mets are going to be giving Damion Easley plenty of time in the outfield this spring, and if I recall correctly, he played a little outfield last year. Primarily, though, Easley is a middle infielder. So is Ruben Gotay, and Gotay figures to be the backup shortstop, as Willie Randolph wants to get Jose Reyes more rest this season.

The easy solution to the outfield problem is twofold - 1) the people in the lineup who aren't Ryan Church produce, taking off some of the pressure that's on him to hit lefties. 2) Ryan Church hits lefties, and the issue is moot.

One more factor to watch is 19-year-old Fernando Martinez. He already predicted that he will be in the majors at some point this year (which would make him the youngest Met to make the pros since Dwight Gooden). But Martinez definitely factors into the Mets' plans for the future, and there is a chance we could see him at Shea even before September call-ups.

There are a lot of question marks surrounding the Mets bench. This is an issue that will need to be revisited as the regular season draws near, and the final spots on the team are awarded.

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