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New York Mets Put Themselves in a Tight Spot Thanks to Poor Roster Management

June 28th, 2014 at 8:56 AM
By Mike Phillips

The New York Mets were extremely short handed in the infield last night thanks to an injury to David Wright. Wright missed last night's game with the Pittsburgh Pirates to undergo an MRI in New York on his left shoulder, which he injured sliding into second base Thursday night. The Mets used Eric Campbell at third base, leaving the team without a backup infielder in the event of another injury.

It may seem odd that the Mets were without a backup infielder, but that is due to a curious choice they made Thursday afternoon. The Mets needed to send a position player to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Juan Lagares to return from the 15 day disabled list. With Chris Young showing signs of life in the Oakland series, his roster spot was safe. The logical move appeared to be to send Kirk Nieuwenhuis back to Las Vegas so he could play every day. The Mets defied logic, instead demoting backup middle infielder Wilmer Flores to the 51's instead.

Flores was brought up in the middle of May to push Ruben Tejada at shortstop, and Tejada responded aptly to the challenge. Tejada has hit .251 this month with a .361 on base percentage and has also scored seven runs. As Tejada heated up, Flores began to see less and less playing time with no open spots on the infield. The Mets rationalized sending Flores back to Triple-A as an opportunity to get him every day playing time, but the decision to demote him left the team with only Campbell as a backup infielder.

Campbell, a first baseman and third baseman by trade, has never played shortstop with the Mets but was set to be first in line if Ruben Tejada needed a day off. The Mets instead are carrying six outfielders, a move which makes little sense when you can only play three of them at at time in the National League. Mets Assistant GM John Ricco said that manager Terry Collins was going to have to get creative to play them all, Tim Rohan of the New York Times reports

This approach to roster building is idiotic and shows that the team's front office can't make up their minds about which outfielders they want to keep. Instead of making a choice to demote Nieuwenhuis, the Mets kept him on the major league roster so he can sit on the bench for most of the week. The Mets have no one to blame but themselves for this problem, as they failed to add insurance to their middle infield after releasing Justin Turner last winter. Turner, by the way, is hitting .297 with three home runs and 20 RBI's for the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

The Mets shouldn't have forced Collins to juggle six outfielders and risk being severely exposed in the infield by having only Campbell available as a backup. Flores cannot be recalled for ten days after his demotion unless Wright is placed on the disabled list, so the Mets are essentially stuck if Wright needs to miss a few days. Eric Young Jr can play second base in a pinch, and he would essentially be the next man up if there's another injury. The only other middle infielder on the 40 man roster is Wilfredo Tovar, who is playing with the Binghamton Mets in AA.

This poor roster management has been a problem for the Mets under the last couple of years, including at the beginning of the season when the team insisted on having a three man platoon at first base. The Mets insist on carrying collections of similarly mediocre players at certain positions instead of having a more balanced roster, and that has haunted them time and time again. The Mets have already used 20 different starting outfield combinations in 2014, which is the fourth most in the major leagues. That speaks to the team's inability to decide on a good mix out of what they have, and it also contributes to the team's mediocre record by keeping players from getting into a groove by constantly being juggled in and out of the lineup. This roster arrangement will keep the Mets from winning consistently as long as the juggling continues.

Tags: Baseball, David Wright, Eric Campbell, Eric Young Jr, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, MLB, New York, New York Mets, Ruben Tejada, Wilmer Flores

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