After Thursday night’s loss against Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals, the New York Mets were 37-54 and continued falling further and further out of contention.
Across the MLB, talented offensive players usually man the first base position. But, the Mets have seen the opposite from their first basemen so far this year.
Adrian Gonzalez began the year as the team’s primary first baseman, but he hit just .237 with six home runs and 26 RBIs and was promptly released after 54 games. Wilmer Flores has also logged some appearances there over the course of the year, and he’s hitting a respectable .273 with eight homers and 29 RBIs, but has not been given the everyday role.
Rookie Dominic Smith, who was called upon when Gonzalez was released, has struggled mightily at the MLB level. As of Thursday night, he was hitting just .186 with one home run and one RBI in 72 plate appearances over 26 games.
To make matters even worse, 23-year-old prospect Peter Alonso has been abysmal in Triple-A, hitting just .171 with 29 strikeouts in 21 games since being called up from Double-A, where he hit .314 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs. He does have four homers and 17 RBIs in Triple-A, but he’s clearly struggled with the promotion.
Therefore, the Mets might be out of options within their own system, unless they make Flores their everyday first baseman. Gonzalez is gone, Smith doesn’t seem to be ready to face Major League pitching and Alonso seemingly isn't ready to take that giant step.
But, there might be an in-house option.
From outfielder to infielder
Yoenis Cespedes, who has been out since May 13 with hip flexor and chronic heel injuries, has been taking ground balls at first base while rehabbing in Port St. Lucie, according to the New York Daily News.
General manager John Ricco told reporters that the outfielder expressed that he’d even be willing to play first base for the Mets when he returns.
"We know he is open to the idea," Ricco told the New York Post. "That is something we have to discuss long term if that works. He is taking grounders to see how it feels. That is the extent of it so far.”
Cespedes playing first base might be the most beneficial move possible for New York. After all, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Jay Bruce and now Jose Bautista are on the Big League roster. Since all are able to play corner outfield spots just like Cespedes, it could create a bit of a logjam if New York expects him to return to left field.
"There is a chance we do that," Ricco said. "It is kind of the early stages of how he looks out there. You would love to have spring training to get ready. But if he has the aptitude for it and guys (the coaches) feel he can do it, you may see him over there."
Apparently, Cespedes will be taking the field during the All-Star break.
Therefore, if the Mets expect him to play some first base when he returns, that’d be a nice opportunity for them to see if he can hold down the position in the minors.
It goes without saying that it would help the Mets immensely if they could get the proven offensive force to be a respectable infielder. From what his teammates have shown this season, he’d most likely be a gigantic upgrade not only in the short term, but possibly even the long term, too.
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