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Will the Mets Bench Continue to Disappoint?

By Mike Silva ~ February 15th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets.

Injuries have decimated the Mets starting lineup, but what it has also done is robbed their bench of any quality. Players such as Alex Cora and Fernando Tatis have been thrust into starting duty. Even worse was the depth was abysmal. The bench over the last couple of years has lacked power, depth, and generally been a mishmash of over the hill veterans, 4-A kids, and formerly productive starters hanging on for one last shot. Names such as Cory Sullivan, Emil Brown, Ramon Martinez, and Jesus Feliciano have all donned uniforms, often for extended periods of time.

Sandy Alderson may not have spent tons of money this offseason, but it appears he’s tried to improve on the team’s depth with some value signings. Free agents Scott Hairston and Willie Harris are an upgrade over anyone from the last two seasons. A healthy Daniel Murphy provides versatility and left handed pop (assuming Emaus gets the second base job), while Nick Evans can do the same from the right side. They still are light on backup infielders, but you figure Ruben Tejada will improve with some time at Triple-A, and Chin-lung Hu has been a highly regarded prospect in the Dodgers system. Luis Hernandez didn’t do a bad job in his brief stint last season.

Assuming they go with a seven man bullpen, there will be five bench spots up for grabs. One will be for the backup catcher, Hu probably gets the backup infielder slot as he is out of options, Hairston will be the fourth outfielder, and Daniel Murphy the left handed pinch hitter/utility man. That leaves one spot remaining with Willie Harris, Nick Evans, and Jason Pridie the three favorites. Looking at the lack of left handed hitting I would have to give Harris the advantage. His speed and power work in his favor as well. Most important, the Mets will not have to watch him steal a game from them with a wild catch.

The odd man out, again, appears to be Nick Evans. Since he is out of options it may turn out the team trades him. One idea suggested by Joe Demayo of St. Lucie to Flushing is sending Evans to Baltimore for the rights to Rule V draft pick Pedro Beato who needs to be kept on the roster all season.

As for depth, you have Fernando Martinez, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Justin Turner, Lucas Duda, and the aforementioned Tejada who will undoubtedly start the season in Buffalo. Luis Hernandez, if he clears waivers, would be an ok middle infield option as well.

The Mets bench may finally be turning the corner for the first time in a while. Even the 2006 team that won the National League East had a shallow bench. If the starting eight stays healthy there is potential for some interesting late game bats to provide pop for Terry Collins. This might be the best bench edition we have seen around here in quite a while.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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