The bench depth the Mets possessed on their 2021 roster took a major hit as Jose Martinez suffered a torn meniscus that will require surgery sidelining him for 4 months.
The bat of Martinez was an important cog on the Met bench but it could have also potentially offset the Mets left handed hitting laden lineup when they faced a tough lefty and even in the non DH world he gave the team a slugging bat off the bench.
We have been hearing in the past 24 hours the Mets have shown interest in free agent third baseman Maikel Franco who despite a good 2020 season was non tendered by the Royals in December. The former Phillie also has a great first hand knowledge of the NL East so that could make him an interesting target for Sandy Alderson.
Met manager Luis Rojas tried to stay optimistic when he said, “We have a lot of depth in camp with guys that are not on the roster that we are evaluating for maybe a similar situation why Martinez was brought to the team.”
Those players include Kevin Pillar, Albert Almora Jr. and Jonathan Villar and it could mean that prospect Khalil Lee might have an outside shot at making the Opening Day roster.
Certainly this news put a major dent in the Met depth and I expect the team to explore both options inside and outside the organization to fill the vacancy. But they also need to address the team’s overall defense which early in this spring training season has looked like an issue and Luis Rojas addressed that today when he said, “This is something we need to improve and you want to say it is early in camp and we have room, but we need to do it right now. If we are going to say that we are a good team, we have to go out there on the field and be a good team. We end up hurting ourselves defensively and this is something that can’t happen,”
Bench depth and overall team defense are 2 issues we should pay close attention to in the next few weeks, Both need to be addressed before the Mets break camp and the Met manager knows that.
When the fulcrum of your team is your starting pitcher coupled with a deep lineup you simply can not have the swiss cheese like defense the Mets have shown this spring especially at the hot corner. And the tone of the manager’s comment on it indicates he is very troubled by it especially since he made it clear from the opening day of camp this would be a priority for him to address this season.
In 7 exhibition games this season the Mets have committed 10 errors which is TOTALLY unacceptable. Yes these games don’t count in the standings but you form habits in spring training that could carry over into April when the season starts and games you lose because of inadequate defense could rip through a clubhouse wasting good pitching performances and forcing the offense to score more and more runs.