With Spring Training winding down, it seems like a good time to check to see which of the thousands of players Sandy Alderson signed to minor league deals or other players might make the flight North with the Mets.
Marlon Byrd is all-but a certainty to make the club and be the starting right fielder. He is hitting .324 thus far this spring and has impressed everyone. Collin Cowgill will likely get the starting nod in center; he has two home runs and four RBIs to go along with a .293 average.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, however, has squandered his opportunity. He was injured for most of the spring, but when he did play, he hit an anemic .056 in 18 at bats. Mike Baxter also had a clear route to a starting job, but he responded by hitting .129. He could still make the roster as a backup. Matt Den Dekker has shown he can handle center field, but he’s not ready for major league pitching, hitting just .194 with 14 strikeouts.
Over in the infield, Jordany Valdespin definitely forced his way onto the roster with his incredible spring. He will start at second if Daniel Murphy is unable and then will work his way into the outfield.
Brandon Hicks, with whom the front office seems enamored, is hitting .121 with a whopping 18 strikeouts. The Mets brain trust might find him worthy because he also has 11 walks, but I repeat my assertion that he is this year’s Brad Emaus. If he somehow makes the club, he won’t last long.
In the bullpen, the Mets have four slots open (Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin and Brandon Lyon are guaranteed spots). LaTroy Hawkins and Pedro Feliciano got late starts, but they have both been effective in their limited innings. The veterans could make the team. If not Feliciano, Aaron Laffey could be the second lefty in the pen. Jeurys Familia has been solid and looks like a lock as the long man, especially since Jeremy Hefner will likely start the season in the rotation. Scott Atchinson and Greg Burke have also pitched well and could make the team.
So maybe Alderson’s minor league contract strategy will work and the Mets have found a couple of gems. Let’s hope the strong spring performances can translate into April, when the games actually count.