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The Daily Stache

Ask #MetsTwitter: Who Goes Down When Wheeler Comes Up

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When Jon Niese was placed on the disabled list with a partially torn rotator cuff, it allowed the Mets to correct one shortage on their roster, but in the process it created another.

Greg Burke was recalled to replace Niese, bringing the bullpen back to full strength with eight members, but it created a shortage in the rotation. That will change on Tuesday when Zack Wheeler is recalled for his start against the Chicago White Sox, at which time someone will need to be sent down. It’s likely that person will be a member of the team’s bench and there are numerous candidates for demotion as it stands.

Jordany Valdespin
Spin has been living on the edge of the roster for a few weeks now after dodging demotion when Ike Davis, Mike Baxter and Robert Carson were sent down on June 9. Immediately thereafter, Valdespin was given a one-week auditon at second base as the team briefly slid Daniel Murphy over to first.

The result was a two-hit day in his first start and just one hit in the five subsequent to it. He went 3-for-23 with three singles and no walks (.130/.130/.130) over the six-game span. The Mets ended the experiment at the start of their series in Atlanta earlier this week, sliding Daniel Murphy back to 2nd and putting Lucas Duda at 1st. Since then Valdespin has had two pinch hit at-bats and walked in each of them.

For all the talk about Valdespin’s pinch hitting prowess, he hasn’t shown it much in the last two months either. Since his infamous homer against Pittsburgh in May, Valdy has had 18 pinch hit plate appearances with just one hit. He has however walked four times and been hit by two pitches, giving him a .389 OBP. Still what’s likely to keep Valdespin on the roster for a little longer is that, with Ruben Tejada and Justin Turner hurt, if Valdespin is demoted the backup shortstop is David Wright.

Josh Satin
Satin is in the midst of his third call-up in three years as a Met and, like the other times, he hasn’t had much chance to prove himself at the big league level since being recalled on June 11 to replace Ike Davis on the roster.

Satin got his only start this season in the second half of Tuesday’s doubleheader in Atlanta, relieving Duda at first base. He went 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored. He made pinch hitting appearances in each of the next two games and had a hit in each, including the game-winning double in Thursday night’s victory over the Braves.

Satin is a corner infielder by trade, so his role right now is as a backup to Duda at 1st and David Wright at 3rd. The only other player on the roster who can play both of those positions is starting second baseman Daniel Murphy. Whether that alone is enough to keep Satin around until Turner returns remains to be seen.

Andrew Brown
Brown was called up for the second time this season last week when the Mets placed Scott Atchison on the DL, the move that created this roster mess, and perhaps the easiest move would be to send him back to Vegas and be done with it.

But Brown may have complicated that decision on Thursday when, in his first at-bat since being recalled, he launched a fifth inning homer off Braves starter Mike Minor to tie a game the Mets eventually won. It was Brown’s second homer in as many MLB at-bats dating back to his first demotion on May 13 (when the Mets signed Rick Ankiel). Brown’s last at-bat prior to that demotion was a ninth inning homer at Citi Field on May 11 in an 11-2 loss to the Pirates.

That power is Brown’s upside and I believe that the Mets would like to get him some at-bats in the outfield or even at first base, where he is capable. But with Duda entrenched at 1st and Juan Lagares,  Marlon Byrd and recently acquired Eric Young Jr. making up the outfield against lefties, I’m not sure if he’ll get the chance any time soon.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Kirk is the wild card in all this because the Mets’ plans for him are unclear at the moment. When he was recalled on June 9 to replace Rick Ankiel, the thought was that Nieuwenhuis would take Ankiel’s place in the center field platoon with Lagares.

But the Mets have been playing Lagares pretty much every day for the last week and he’s been producing, so that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. It was then thought that Kirk could play alongside Lagares in left field against righties, but the acquisition of switch-hitting Eric Young Jr. seems to have flattened that idea as well.

Kirk did produce one of the Mets’ best moments in the last few months with his three-run walk off homer vs. the Cubs on June 16, but other than that he has just two other hits in 23 at-bats since his recall and has struck out eight times. He looks like the same guy the Mets demoted on April 23rd and should be headed back to Vegas any time now.

Juan Lagares
Lagares was a long shot to be demoted when I proposed the question before yesterday’s game and his three-hit night and continued above average defense may have cinched Lagares’ place on the roster for the immediate future.

Since the beginning of June, Lagares is hitting .319/.319/447 while playing a great centerfield in 12 games (10 starts). It’s too early to say whether his work at the plate over the last several games is a brief hot streak or Lagares has finally found a comfort zone at the plate in the major leagues, but one stat that should lend caution is his walk rate. He’s walked just two times in 98 plate appearances this season and hasn’t drawn a single free pass since April 28.

Still Lagares is a safe bet to remain on the roster for a while because there isn’t a single better option for center field at the moment.

With the choice still undecided after breaking down each player, I decided to take the vote to #MetsTwitter and get some opinions. The responses, as always, were gold.


Disclaimer: It’s quite possible that all this was for naught as the Mets could decide to go back to a seven-man bullpen when Wheeler is promoted on Tuesday. If that’s the case, the candidates to be sent down are Greg Burke and Josh Edgin. But that’s a debate for another day.

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