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Chris Bassitt sparkles once again, and understanding the Mets' outfield construction
Newly acquired righty-hander Chris Bassitt pitches well once again. Plus, did the Mets acquire Starling Marte to move him in right field?
What’s Up with the Mets? 🌴
RHP Chris Bassitt made his second start of the spring on Tuesday night, pitching 4.2 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and no walks
C James McCann returned to the lineup for the first time in a week after dealing with back tightness and went 1-for-3 with an RBI double
SS Francisco Lindor kept up his hot spring, going 2-for-2 with a home run, double, four RBI and a walk
The Mets are leaning toward Starling Marte starting in right field on Opening Day, according to manager Buck Showalter
New York claimed RHP Yoan López (4.25 career ERA) off waivers from Miami and placed LHP Joey Lucchesi on the 60-day IL to make room on the 40-man roster
Two of the Mets’ first half games (April 8th and June 10th) will now be exclusively broadcast on Apple TV+
Former Mets pitcher Al Leiter appeared in camp on Tuesday as a guest instructor
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets vs. Astros
Starters: Carlos Carrasco vs. José Urquidy
When: 6:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Making sense of the Mets outfield construction 📝
When it was revealed on Tuesday by manager Buck Showalter the club was leaning toward starting Starling Marte in right field to start the season, There was some initial confusion about it.
This was the Mets’ high-profile center field addition, after all, and their first big acquisition at that position in over 15 years. Why would the team acquire him just to move him over to a corner spot?
The knee-jerk reaction may have been confusion, but there actually seem to be quite a few reasons the team may be going in this direction.
First off, lets just look at the stats. While Brandon Nimmo had never posted a posted DRS in center field during his first five seasons, he completely turned things around defensively in 2021. Last season, Nimmo was good for four defensive runs saved and ranked 18th in outs above average (OAA), ahead of the newly acquired Marte who ranked 27th. It is quite possible that the Mets believe Nimmo has taken a big step forward defensively and that it will continue on in 2022 and beyond, especially with the aid of the club’s increased emphasis on defensive positioning since their new regime took over.
While Marte may have a surface-level reputation of being a good defender in center, the metrics tell another story. Over the last three seasons, Marte has been one of the least effective full-time center fielders in the game with a negative 14 DRS since the start of 2019. And while the Statcast numbers are a bit more kind — he ranks 28th in OAA and 32nd in runs prevented in that same timespan — there is no reason to think that those numbers will undergo a reversal with Marte entering his age 33 season.
Also factor in that Marte has been somewhat injury prone over the last few seasons as he’s only played 140+ games once over the last five 162-game seasons and perhaps the team thinks moving him to a corner spot could take some of that additional stress off of his body and keep him a little more fresh and available throughout this season. It should be noted, however, that Nimmo has had his own issues staying healthy, as well, and would likely now be depended on as the every day center fielder if this move is indeed permanent.
While Marte will assuredly fill-in occasionally in center, the regular every day Mets outfield alignment of Mark Canha in left, Brandon Nimmo in center and Starling Marte in right is very likely the best way to utilize the club’s roster and get the best results on defense. Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil will also likely make the occasional cameos in left field while Travis Jankowski has an outside shot of making the team as a defensive replacement type of outfielder.
All-in-all, while I didn’t initially anticipate that the Mets signed Marte to move him out of center field, it may very well be a move that would get the most out of their roster as it currently stands.
Around the League 🚩
Pirates SS Oneil Cruz (No. 26 ranked prospect in baseball, per MLB.com) was optioned to minor league camp on Tuesday and will not make the team’s Opening Day roster
The Phillies officially traded OF Adam Haseley to the White Sox in exchange for minor league RHP McKinley Moore
The White Sox officially designated OF Blake Rutherford, formerly a first round pick, for assignment
Angels RHP AJ Ramos will likely miss the entire 2022 season due to a torn capsule in his right shoulder (MLB.com)