Dominic Smith’s productive pre-season provides the Mets with some shade to hide under when they send Pete Alonso to Syracuse…
Met’s General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, has insisted since day one of Spring Training that the Mets will bring their “best team North” to begin the 2019 season. Which is to suggest what? – has he thought about bringing the Mets worse team North?
No, what he’s talking about is the dilemma the Mets are facing where the team has two players who are both on fire with the bat, but they happen to play the same position at first base. Adding to the problem, neither Dominic Smith or Pete Alonso has the versatility to play another position.
Much like the crosstown Yankees, where Greg Bird and Luke Voit are locked in a similar battle, two outstanding major league players will begin the season with their respective Triple-A minor league teams.
There’s one difference, though, and it lies in Pete Alonso’s time of service in the major leagues. Under the current rules of baseball (more on that in a minute), the Mets can pick up an extra year of control of Alonso if he does not begin the season with the team.
The Owners Have Control
Teams are smart and if they see a window of opportunity to gain an advantage over a player by delaying his eligibility for free agency a full year, who should blame them? The Mets would not be setting a precedent, since countless players, including Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Gleyber Torres of the Yankees, have previously been caught in this vise.
The numbers for Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso for the Spring are strikingly similar (before play today). They’ve played in the same amount of games and have the same number of team leading hits. Smith has hit for a higher average but Alonso, as expected, has displayed more power with three home runs.
Smith has bounced around with the Mets, often giving less than the appearance of a go-getter who is willing to do what it takes to play and excel at this level. This Spring, however, he has impressed the Mets and his teammates with a spring in his step and proficiency with his bat.
Alonso’s pedigree and the journey have been somewhat different from Smith in that he has never been here before. Alonso carries a torrid hitting production wherever he has played in the minors, including hitting 36 home runs last season at the Double and Triple-A teams of the Mets. In that light, Alonso is as ready as he’ll ever be, save for some polishing on the defensive side of his game.
The injury Todd Frazier incurred early in the preseason could give the Mets an “out” to carry both Smith and Alonso if, as it appears, Frazier will not be ready when the Mets open their season two weeks from today at Washington (Frazier is penciled in as a back-up at first base).
Mets Decision: Predicting The Outcome
Mets fans have yet to form a strong allegiance to either player, so that makes things somewhat easier for the Mets. My thinking is they decide to send Alonso down, but only with an eye towards seeing if Dominic Smith can handle major league pitching over the first three full weeks of the season. After all, Smith has had a couple of cracks at the job before and has failed each time miserably.
Power is everything in baseball as the game is played today. Alonso has it in spades, Smith doesn’t unless he develops into a late-blooming Barry Bonds (without the juice).
It’s your move, Brodie, and it’s almost time to put names on that “best team going North” slogan you’ve been ducking questions with to date. At least we can say there was a reason to have Spring Training this year.
Ironically, this article will be declared moot faster than Noah Syndergaard can throw a baseball. New rule changes are coming and that will be the subject of tomorrow’s post. Baseball will never be the same…