By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor
There is a distinct difference for the Mets this year with the season opener five weeks away with the void of David Wright and it has to do with depth. Manager Terry Collins has depth and that in baseball terms leads to the lack of tears and talk of gloom and doom before the first pitch is thrown.
And that distinction is Jose Reyes now with the opportunity to be the permanent player at third base which also provides the catalyst for the Mets in the leadoff position. Reyes is not the 23-year old speedster he once was but take a further look at the numbers when he was reacquired with a brief stint on the disabled list.
The Mets were better with Reyes in the everyday lineup at third, short, or in the outfield, 35-25 in games he appeared in as Reyes scored 45 runs in 60 games after joining the team on July 5th.
All teams need depth and the Mets have that advantage. They are better with Reyes as much as you want to see the name of David Wright in the Opening Day lineup at Citi Field. And face the facts that Wright, diagnosed with an infringement of the right shoulder, had another setback that made the decision easier for Collins.
There were going to be setbacks with David Wright and if this latest hurdle, temporarily as reported does indeed becomes an ongoing issue, the captain needs to consider the inevitable issue of retirement. And as much as that sounds like gloom and doom it won’t be for the Mets and for the betterment of David Wright who is not not a human robot as the manager always says about his players.
Wright appeared in 37 games last season before the season ending fusion surgery on his neck on June 16th. There was no sign prior that the Mets franchise player, owed over $67 million over the next four years, was going to be the player again that has 86-career go-ahead home runs which is most in team history.
So where do the Mets stand with this latest setback? Wright was projected to get his starts and there was caution with hopes of starting or playing more than the 37 games, and the skeptical range from third had Wright possibly getting some starts at first base.
This all changes now with Wright once again on the shelf. Jose Reyes emerges again as a catalyst to a Mets lineup that makes them better as an everyday starter and at top of the lineup.
And put into consideration that Reyes is not the youngster that energized the Mets lineup almost 17 years ago, and at that time he and Wright were a tandem in propelling the interest back to the other sign of town in Flushing.
So there is no rush to get Wright back in the lineup, and though it appears this setback is not good for the Mets, again the depth that has emerged does not lead to gloom and doom. Perhaps that could be said a year or two ago, but Reyes has showed no signs of a declining player and he has reemerged as that revived player with a healthier hamstring and mindset.
T.J. Rivera finally emerged at the big league level, another key component that can come off the bench and play the infield, and Wilmer Flores is quickly becoming a young veteran that will get some starts and be that depth and valuable player off the bench. And we have yet to see Gavin Cecchini, the 2012 amatuer draft pick who is getting some attention down in Port. St. Lucie along with Amed Rosario.
Rosario is the younger version of Reyes and baseball experts say he could start with the big club but the Mets plan is to start the youngster in Las Vegas with their Triple-A team to give him more at bats.
Yes, there is depth with the setback to David Wright. Again, and for the betterment of the Mets, if Wright gets past this and has another setback then for the betterment of the captain there is that inevitable decision of calling it a career.
The other setback, and analyzed at another time is the continued setbacks of Lucas Duda and first base. Rule out Reyes on that side of the field and some time for Jay Bruce and perhaps Flores. But depth is a major part of this Mets team and waiting in the wings and ready is their 20-year old and 2013 first round pick.
Dominic Smith could be another option at first. However, the next five weeks will center on David Wright getting healthy again and not being a part of the Opening Day lineup. Not to be unexpected but expected is Jose Reyes and added depth of this Mets roster.
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