Only five years removed from a World Series run, the New York Mets have their eyes set on another playoff run in 2020.
So long as MLB and the MLBPA can strike a deal regarding revenue share, teams will begin to prepare themselves for a shortened baseball season. The length of the season is speculated to span somewhere in the 70- to 80-game range, but extreme compromises could see a season as short as 50 games.
Reportedly, the league is considering including a universal designated hitter that would holistically change the schematics of National League baseball.
However, this added dimension would likely benefit ball clubs such as the Mets, as their roster is riddled with depth at various positions. Third base, left field and second base are a few spots where the Mets have a surplus of talent, and the designated hitter would help ease the potential obstacles that first-year manager Luis Rojas would have to deal with.
What Should Rojas Do?
Juggling this lineup card will be one of the tallest tasks in all of baseball, as Rojas will have to face the music early and often in his first bout as Mets manager.
The New York faithful will be quick to turn on someone who they weren’t even expecting in the first place, as Carlos Beltran’s stint as Mets skipper lasted all of three weeks before resigning due to his involvement in the Astros cheating scandal.
Finding playing time for veterans Robinson Cano, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jed Lowrie will not be easy as emerging stars Jeff McNeil, JD Davis, and Brandon Nimmo are likely to play major roles after breakout campaigns in 2019.
Cespedes and Lowrie are still recovering from season-ending injuries in the year previous, but both appear to be ready to go for Opening Day — whenever that may be.
Luckily, due to Davis’ deficiencies in the field at third base and left field, he is likely to see many at-bats as the designated hitter, leaving Nimmo and Cespedes in the outfield along with left-handed slugger Michael Conforto.
McNeil, being a swiss army knife of sorts, will likely cover third base when Davis is the designated hitter while Cano mans second base.
However, McNeil has shown tremendous promise in the outfield, so getting Cespedes regular days off should not be a problem, as Davis is still more than capable of handling the hot corner a few times a week.
Meanwhile, Dominic Smith is another guy who needs to see the field this summer. Smith has a great glove at first base and would be a great defensive replacement for 2019 Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso. Not to mention, Smith slashed .282/.355/.525 in limited at-bats (177) last year.
Putting Alonso at designated hitter every once in a while would help keep him fresh for a postseason run, while also providing Smith well-deserved playing time at first.
There are so many directions that Rojas can go with this roster, as the Mets have a plethora of young talent for the first time in a while.
Getting these guys consistent at-bats will be paramount for the young skipper, as he has to be willing to play the best nine guys day in and day out — especially in what figures to be a drastically shortened season.
He can’t play favorites, nor can he look to appease owners Jeff and Fred Wilpon by playing veterans Cano and Cespedes, as their contracts continue to look worse by the day.
Luckily for Rojas, he’s had plenty of time to think these things through.
Contenders or Pretenders?
Bovada has the Mets listed at +2000 to win the World Series this fall. Checking in with the seventh-best odds, expect the Mets to be right in the thick of things come October.
Even with the injury to Noah Syndergaard, the Mets still boast a quality rotation headlined by two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom.
Moreover, their bullpen should be much improved from a year ago, as the addition of Dellin Betances should go a long way in bolstering the backend of the pen.
New York finally has the pieces in place to bring a World Series back to Queens for the first time since 1986.