Diving into the depths: New York Mets

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
New York Mets
Rotation
1. Johan Santana
2. John Maine
3. Mike Pelfrey
4. Oliver Perez
5. Fernando Nieve
6. Jon Niese
7. Pat Misch
8. Nelson Figueroa
9. Tobi Stoner
10. Josh Fogg
11. Bobby Parnell
12. Elmer Dessens
13. Jack Egbert
14. R.A. Dickey
15. Jenrry Mejia
It’s hard to believe the Mets are really about to enter spring training with that rotation. Sure, there’s considerable upside, but Santana is coming off elbow surgery, Maine has had shoulder problems, Pelfrey had a 5.03 ERA last year and Perez is the biggest question mark of them all.
Nieve is supposed to enter spring training with a leg up on Niese, though that makes little sense to me. Nieve does have the talent to help the Mets as a starter, but he hasn’t turned in a healthy season since 2005.
Bullpen
1. Francisco Rodriguez
2. Kelvim Escobar
3. Pedro Feliciano
4. Ryota Igarashi
5. Bobby Parnell
6. Sean Green
7. Nelson Figueroa
8. Pat Misch
9. Fernando Nieve
10. Josh Fogg
11. R.A. Dickey
12. Clint Everts
13. Jack Egbert
14. Tobi Stoner
15. Elmer Dessens
16. Eddie Kunz
17. Arturo Lopez
18. Jay Marshall
The Mets opened up some additional bullpen competition by trading Brian Stokes for Gary Matthews Jr. They do have plenty of depth, particularly when it comes to swingmen. Figueroa, Misch, Nieve, Fogg, Dickey and Dessens are all capable of moving back and forth between the rotation and the pen. Still, they’re going to be hurting in the seventh and eighth innings if neither Escobar nor Igarashi comes through.


Catcher
1. Omir Santos
2. Henry Blanco
3. Josh Thole
4. Chris Coste
First base
1. Daniel Murphy
2. Fernando Tatis
3. Frank Catalanotto
4. Mike Hessman
5. Ike Davis
6. Nick Evans
7. Chris Carter
8. Mike Cervenak
Second base
1. Luis Castillo
2. Alex Cora
3. Anderson Hernandez
4. Fernando Tatis
5. Russ Adams
Shortstop
1. Jose Reyes
2. Alex Cora
3. Anderson Hernandez
4. Andy Green
Third base
1. David Wright
2. Fernando Tatis
3. Mike Hessman
4. Mike Cervenak
5. Shawn Bowman
The Mets should be among the worst in the league at catcher and first base. Perhaps second base, too, unless Castillo can bounce back a bit defensively. I like Tatis, but the Mets probably would have been better off paying the price for Carlos Delgado and pushing Murphy into a reserve role.
Left field
1. Jason Bay
2. Angel Pagan
3. Gary Matthews Jr.
4. Fernando Tatis
5. Frank Catalanotto
6. Daniel Murphy
7. Fernando Martinez
8. Nick Evans
9. Chris Carter
Center field
1. Carlos Beltran
2. Angel Pagan
3. Gary Matthews Jr.
4. Fernando Martinez
Right field
1. Jeff Francoeur
2. Angel Pagan
3. Gary Matthews Jr.
4. Fernando Martinez
5. Fernando Tatis
Pagan deserves every opportunity to start in center field while Beltran is out at the beginning of the year. It’d be bad news for the Mets if Matthews hits .400 this spring and wins the job.

The deeper implications of the A.J. Ellis trade

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers heads to the dugout at the end of the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on May 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The trade of a light-hitting backup catcher is normally about as inconsequential as it gets. The trade of A.J. Ellis by the Dodgers to the Phillies, however, is anything but that. Indeed, it may be the public manifestation of long-simmering, well, maybe “feud” is too strong a word, but a definite butting of heads between the team’s front office and its best player.

While almost all of the clubhouse drama in Los Angeles has surrounded a talented but aggravating corner outfielder currently toiling in the minors, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote last night that the Ellis trade could very well be seen as the front office’s shot across Clayton Kershaw‘s bow:

Kershaw’s preference of Ellis was the subject of a longstanding tug-of-war between Kershaw and the front office, which wanted Yasmani Grandal behind the plate as much as possible . . . Some players interpreted the trade as a message from the front office.

This isn’t Kershaw’s team. It’s not Corey Seager’s team or Adrian Gonzalez’s, either.

It’s Friedman’s.

The notion that Kershaw likes to pitch to Ellis is pretty well-known, but the idea that it was so strong a preference that it created a dispute as to whether he has final say over a roster spot is news, at least to people who aren’t around the Dodgers all the time. Hernandez is a good columnist and is particularly well-plugged in to the Dodgers after many years of being their beat writer for the Times. He wouldn’t throw the notion of there being something of a power struggle in this regard out there all willy-nilly in order to stir the pot or something. I don’t doubt for a second that something bigger than most of us have seen is going on here.

As for the trade itself: yeah, it’s pretty debatable as to whether it makes any kind of sense. Carlos Ruiz is likely an upgrade over Ellis, but it’s a pretty marginal upgrade when you consider how few plate appearances the Dodgers backup catcher will make for the rest of the year. It’s especially marginal if you assume, as Hernandez and others assume, likely with reason, that the loss of Ellis is going to harm morale. At least in the short term before they get to know Ruiz well (worth noting, though, that he comes pretty highly recommended from Kershaw-caliber aces for all the same reasons Ellis does). I can see a lot of reasons not to make that deal even for an extra hit or two a week that Ruiz may give you over Ellis.

All of which speaks to what we don’t know. What we don’t know about the mind of Andrew Friedman and whether or not there is something more going on here than is immediately apparent. About the relationship between him and Kershaw and, for that matter, him and the rest of the team that would cause him to make a deal that plays as poorly with his own players as this one does. It could be something about Ellis. It could be something about Friedman’s relationship with Kershaw. It could be something totally unrelated to any of that, such as offseason plans and the roster in 2017 (Ruiz has a team option for next year, Ellis is a pending free agent). Unless or until Friedman speaks or a reporter gets someone to shed more light on this, there will continue to be questions.

In the meantime, I’ll grant that there are certainly different rules which apply to superstars than mere mortals, but veto power over a trade and/or playing time for other players isn’t typically one of them. If, as Hernandez suggests, there was a sense that Kershaw and Friedman didn’t see eye-to-eye on that and it wasn’t otherwise being resolved, it makes Friedman’s move somewhat more understandable.

World Baseball Classic pools, venues announced

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 10:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of Venezuela gets a hit and drives in a run against Spain during the first round of the World Baseball Classic at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on March 10, 2013 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Yesterday the folks who run the World Baseball Classic (i.e. the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people, under the supervision of the reverse vampires, the Illuminati and the Trilateral Commission) announced the groupings and venues for next springs’s tournament. It breaks down thusly:

  • Pool A will play in Tokyo, featuring Australia, China, Cuba, and Japan;
  • Pool B will play in Seoul, featuring Chinese Taipei, Korea, the Netherlands, and either Brazil, Israel, Great Britain, or Pakistan (final participant to be determined at a qualifying tournament in New York next month);
  • Pool C will play in Miami, featuring Canada, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and the United States;
  • Pool D will play in Guadalajara, featuring Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

A winner and a runner-up will advance from each pool following a round-robin competition. That will result in a second round robin made up of Pool A and B — which will be called Pool E, because it HAS to be complicated — and which will be played in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Pool C and D’s representatives will make up Pool F, who will play in San Diego at Petco Park.

The winner of Pool F will then take on the runner-up of Pool E in a semifinal at Dodger Stadium, while the winner of Pool E will face Pool F’s runner-up there as well. The winners of those matches will play in the WBC final, also at Dodger Stadium.

Got it? Good.

Now we wait. And listen to people tell us how much we should care about the World Baseball Classic between now and March.