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It’s Time d’Arnaud or Else
- Updated: March 26, 2017
Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros was not much to be concerned about. After all, this is still Spring Training and the Mets have a pretty good idea who will head north for Opening Day. So it is all about fine tuning and conditioning.
But there is still a question mark that needs to be addressed. When is Travis d’Arnaud going to be a legitimate defensive catcher at the Major League level? Yes, I agree that it is a process and the Mets appear to give him every opportunity to succeed, but seeing that he was not able to throw out one runner in Friday’s game raises the question can he be average in his defense.
Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins will be happy to see that. I am sure d’Arnaud is working hard to gain the trust of his bosses. Remember, the Mets made it to the 2015 World Series with him only playing 67 games and hitting .268 as the starting catcher, so I see no reason why the Mets can’t get to the October dance with him again.
First, he needs to stay healthy. You can’t build a trust and chemistry with your pitching staff if you are consistently out of the lineup.
Second, he must improve his hitting. He is capable of being an offensive weapon even if he hits .270, it is icing on the cake.
Third, he’s got to improve his ability to throw runners out. If he doesn’t, the rest of the league will run, run, run until the cows come home and it leaves the Mets to go with Rene Rivera. Not a bad backup plan, mind you. Rivera is an insurance policy and is known for his defense and game calling.
I am pulling for d’Arnaud to succeed. He has the most important job on the Mets in managing a potential All-Star starting five. For the Mets to win they need a strong middle with d’Arnaud catching, Asdrubal Cabrera at short, Neil Walker at second, and Curtis Granderson in center. Not exactly an intimidating force on defense, but their bats will more than make up for their limitations.
D’Arnaud, on the other hand, must improve defensively because he is not going to put Piazza like numbers. Back then, Piazza became a defensive liability. So much so, the Mets experimented playing Piazza at first. That was awkward to see and Mike never felt comfortable there. Regardless, his Hall of Fame numbers kept him catching until the Mets chose to not re-sign him. That made the Mets overlook his defense.
D’Arnaud cannot and will not be afforded to do the same privilege.
Again, I hope Travis d’Arnaud has a breakout year both behind the plate and with the bat. But what if he doesn’t? What if he gets hurt again? What if he can’t keep the base runners in check?
Rene Rivera may have to step in and take the bulk of the games. He has developed a chemistry with Noah Syndergaard and may well develop the same with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo.
Then looking past 2017 there may be a catcher that may be the ideal fit for this pitching staff, Yadier Molina? He’ll be 35 next season. A bit advanced for a starting catcher. Still, his ability to handle a young pitching staff like the Mets would be a gem he needs for his Hall of Fame induction.
Hopefully, it may not come to this and d’Arnaud will be the regular catcher for years to come. It’s up to him now.
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