The Mets and Dominic Smith draw a parallel to David Ortiz and the Minnesota Twins before he became “Big Papi”. Are the Mets on the same road as the Twins…
The Mets probably do not have a spot for Dominic Smith on their roster for the 2020 season. At least one that is where Mets manager Luis Rojas can guarantee him a minimum of 400 at-bats.
Smith is by trade a first baseman. Ahead of him, of course, is the National League Rookie of the Year, Pete Alonso.
With that position locked up for at least the next decade, the Mets tried their best to save Smith by converting him to the outfield. Over time, Smith has earned a grade of acceptable – like getting a “C” on a major school exam.
Accordingly, Dominic Smith has been the subject of trade talk throughout the winter.
American League teams like the Rangers, Royals, and Orioles are sensible landing spots. But it’s also no sure thing the Mets even want to give Smith up, as Tim Healey of Newsday tweets that they’ve not “felt compelled to move him.”
Mets: A Lesson In History
In 2002, the Minnesota Twins found themselves in a similar situation involving Doug Mientkiewicz (man-kay-vich) and a then-unknown David Ortiz.
Mientkiewicz, as the Twins regular first baseman, could handle a bat. In the three seasons from 2000-2002, he hit .300 or better in two of them. He was also cheap, carrying a salary of $280,000 while Ortiz was 50K removed $1 million.
The Twins decided to release David Ortiz after the 2002 season, after which he was signed as a free agent by the Boston Red Sox. The rest, as they say, is history.
Reflecting in later years on his fateful decision, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan told MLB.com:
Mets: Will It Be Deja-Vu All Over Again?
Will the Mets and GM Brodie Van Wagenen be meeting the press in the future with the same message if they trade Dominic Smith?
Making the case for a yes answer is not a stretch. Both Smith and Ortiz are strikingly similar, especially their ability to meet a pitch on the sweet spot of their bat.
Line drives and bludgeoned baseballs that leave the yard are commonplace, and the power doesn’t come at the expense of a .220 batting average.
When the Twins released Ortiz, he had appeared in 450 games. Smith’s time with the Mets has him in only 200 games. Even with the smaller sample size, Smith, like Ortiz, has “pure hitter” written all over him.
Each appears to have a flair for the dramatic. Mets fans will always recall Smith, in his first at-bat in two months, coming off the bench to hit a walk-off home run to end the 2019 season, while giving the Mets a sweep of the Atlanta Braves. (It’s worth watching again)
David Ortiz, of course, was the master of drama during his playing days, especially when the opponent was the New York Yankees.
Big Papi, for instance, came up big with a two-run shot to walk-off the Yankees in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, putting a hurt on Yankees fans that aches even today.
Watch this ball disappear into the seats in what seems like a split second.
Mets: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
With Dominic Smith, the Mets appear to be engaged in a very familiar dance of indecision. Does he stay, or does he go?
While the team says it is not eagerly shopping, Smith, the fundamental truth remains – the Mets have no place for him. At 24 and just beginning to spread his wings, how can the Mets keep him around to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter fifty times a season?
On the proverbial other hands, though, how can the Mets risk losing a sorely-needed left-handed bat in a lineup seeking production from that side?
Thou Speaketh With Forked Tongue?
Ironically and somewhat inexplicably, the Mets announced the signing of the 30-year-old first baseman, Matt Adams, to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
This gives pause to wonder if indeed the Mets are speaking with a forked-tongue in their claims – “Who, us? No way are we trying to trade Dominic Smith.”
Oh, the tangled web those Metsies weave…