Mets invite 15 to camp, Khalil Lee under investigation, and the lynchpin for the 2023 Mets
Kevin Parada and Alex Ramirez are among their minor leaguers invited to big league camp
What’s Up with the Mets?
The Mets announced on Thursday that they’ve invited the following 15 non roster players to Major League Spring Training
C Kevin Parada
OF Alex Ramirez
C Michael Perez
C Hayden Singer
RHP Eric Orze
RHP William Woods
LHP T.J. McFarland
C Nick Meyer
LHP Josh Walker
RHP Grant Hartwig
OF D.J. Stewart
OF Tim Locastro
OF Lorenzo Cedrola
RHP Connor Grey
IF Jonathan Arauz
RHP Kodai Senga reportedly had an iffy physical prior to signing with the Mets this winter (NY Post)
Minor league OF Khalil Lee is under investigation of domestic violence (Athletic)
11 days until Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie! ⚾️🌴
Who is the most important 2023 Met? 📝
Expectations in Queens are understandably higher than they’ve literally ever been heading into 2023.
The Mets just won 101 games — the 2nd highest total in team history — and boast the richest owner in professional sports that has shown time and time again he’ll stop at nothing to bring a World Series title to Flushing. Last October’s bitter first round exit still stings, and the only way to heal that wound will be winning the whole damn thing roughly nine months from now.
At this point, it would be difficult to find any baseball observer that would tell you the Mets won’t be a good team in the upcoming campaign. That’s not really the debate.
The real question is if they did enough to improve on last year’s team that fell short.
Offensively, the Mets will bring back essentially the same every day starting line-up they featured for most of last season. Sure, Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty represent significant wild cards that could and likely will eventually take over at catcher and third base. Omar Narváez will likely be an improvement over James McCann as Tomás Nido’s catching opposite — not that that’s saying much — and Tommy Pham should help as a depth piece on the bench.
But all in all, this is largely the same offensive group that for the most part was extremely productive in 2022.
Which leads me to the pitching staff.
Unlike the offensive side of the ball, New York dramatically reshaped both their rotation and bullpen, and this is where they’re looking to gain an edge over last year’s squad.
Unfortunately, Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker both departed as free agents this winter, and both losses really stung. DeGrom is hands down one of the best to ever wear a Mets uniform, and it’s pretty frustrating the team wasn’t able to make him a Met for life. Walker was a fan favorite whose departure wouldn’t have hurt so badly had he not left for a division rival in Philadelphia. The Mets commendably filled these voids aggressively with what they believe will be lateral moves at worst. DeGrom has been replaced by defending Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. Walker’s back of the rotation spot has been handed to Jose Quintana.
But New York also lost a third starter this winter right in the middle of their rotation in Chris Bassitt, who headed north of the border to Toronto, and here is where I see the biggest potential for improvement.
Bassitt was good for the Mets last season, there’s no question. He was a workhorse who led the team in innings and starts, and delivered a 3.42 ERA and earned a career high 15 wins. He did, however, struggle in his last two starts one of which was a game the Mets had to have in Atlanta and the other was the deciding game three against San Diego. He is a bulldog for sure who simply had a bad week, but he is a deliberate, pitch-to-contact arm which, as he gets older, may not play particular well in this high octane, swing-and-miss pitchers league.
Taking his spot among the Mets’ starting five is going to be Japanese import, Kodai Senga, who to me is easily the most important piece to the Amazins’ 2023 chances. Bassitt was a well above average number three starter, Senga’s ceiling is much higher than that.
He’s coming off a season in Japan that saw him pitch to a 1.89 ERA in 23 starts. During his career with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, Senga was a three time all-star, five time Japan series champion, twice led the league in strikeouts, won the Japanese Triple Crown in 2020, and in ‘19 tossed a no-hitter.
If he can successfully make the transition from ace in Japan to ace in the States, the Mets will have a bargain on their hands. If he can be even the number two to three starter he signed up to be, the Mets will have the upgrade they sought over Bassitt. The club is understandably confident in Verlander and Max Scherzer atop the rotation, but Senga is going to be the lynchpin, one likely tasked with pitching a pivotal swing game in a postseason series.
Their bullpen additions like David Robertson and Brooks Raley make the Mets’ relief corps noticeably better, but still, there’s no player on this roster more important than Senga heading into Spring Training.
Hot Stove 🔥
Former Minnesota slugger Miguel Sano will hold a workout for scouts next week (SkorNorth)
The Dodgers do not plan to trade from the big league roster in an effort to get under the luxury tax (The Athletic)
Luis Arraez won his arbitration hearing against the Marlins (MLB.com)
9 days to P & C, and STILL no w[ord on a Keith extension.
Whassup with THAT