Arguably the biggest debate this spring has been about what the Mets will do in regards to Pete Alonso’s status on making the team.
Going into spring training it was considered a near lock that Alonso would head to Triple-A Syracuse to begin the year until mid-April or so where the Mets can get an extra year of control on him. This has become common practice throughout MLB and I can understand why from a baseball as a business perspective. Sacrificing a couple weeks for an extra year sure sounds like a no brainer.
Coming into spring training the expectation was that Todd Frazier would play the bulk of the early season games at first base while Jed Lowrie played a lot of third base, but both are hurt and unlikely to be a part of the Opening Day roster.
Dominic Smith told Francesa how bad his sleep apnea was. He said he would stop breathing 85 times per hour while asleep. That’s some scary stuff .. said the sleep apnea machine has made a drastic difference in his life. #Mets— Joe DeMayo (@PSLToFlushing) March 4, 2019
The other option to take the spot would be Dominic Smith who has struggled for the last year and a half, but has come on and had a great spring so far. He reported in great shape and he finally did something for his sleep apnea. He told Mike Francesa that he would stop breathing 85 times per hour while asleep and that he could never have energy due to this which is pretty scary. Clearly that caused an issue in his life and now that he is better he is hitting .359 this spring and all around looks much better. I think Smith would stand a solid chance make the team regardless with the injuries at the least as a pinch hitter off the bench early on.
While Smith certainly has made the case in the small sample size that is spring training, Alonso has simply been better and I don’t think there is anyone that genuinely believes Smith is the BETTER option to start. Everyone knows Alonso needs work on his defense but he’s been working tirelessly and he clearly is showing some improvement there, and hopefully with his work ethic he can make the most out of it and not be a liability there. He has the most exciting power potential in the lineup and he’s shown the ability to hit with legit power to all fields. While he isn’t quite hitting Dom’s .359, he is hitting .347 with a team leading 4 home runs and an OPS of 1.058. He was major league ready last year but the Mets opted not to call him up and outside of service time he is unquestionably the better option to be on this team Opening Day.
Alonso is 24 years old and won't be a free agent until 30. Teams aren't paying 30+ y/o first basemen big money like they used to. #Mets can't afford to give away games this year. Add it up and if the Mets plan is to have Alonso be the every day 1B they should do it from Day 1 https://t.co/QK8oyfoewB— Pete McCarthy (@thePeteyMac) March 17, 2019
Another factor is that Alonso is 24 years old and an older prospect. If you carried him on Opening Day he would be 30 years old when he was nearing becoming a free agent so it’s not as if he is a 19 year old kid that you don’t want to be worrying about free agency at 25 years old. Whether you carry Opening Day or not you have him under control at least through half of his perceived “prime” years which generally is 28-32. I think he is the right aged player where it is worth considering bypassing this service time manipulation.
Brodie Van Wagenen comes from an agent background so he has seen exactly how this situation affects the players’ mindsets. A lot of these players won’t say it publicly, but a lot of them hold grudges against their teams for not having them on the roster simply because of some stupid rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that may be changed in the next agreement anyway. Brodie is making it important to be a GM who cares about the players and their happiness. He started to prove that just two days into his job when he flew to Arizona purely to watch Alonso and fellow prospect Andres Gimenez in the Arizona Fall League. He took Alonso out to eat to ensure he knew how important he was to the Mets, and that things would be different with him around. While you may not gain that extra year of control, you might gain extra positivity from the player towards your organization and that cannot be understated.
I know it’s typically not the right thing to do to make a move to appease the fans, but I think almost every fan would be excited at the idea that Alonso is on this roster from the word go. Every game truly matters in a baseball season, especially with such a tight division race expected for the NL East.
I believe not utilizing your best possible lineup on paper could end up coming back to bite you. That doesn’t lock in Alonso will dominate from day one or anything, but at the end of the day you are putting together your best roster in an attempt to win as many baseball games as possible. How the chips fall is obviously to be determined. If my biggest worry is what I will be paying this guy in 2025, I feel I can live with that.
I am super happy for Dom Smith and how far he’s come and I think he’s working to regain his status as a legitimate prospect whether that means he helps the Mets in a limited role or ends up being a commodity in trade down the line.
To me it is clear that Pete Alonso is the best fit for the position and while I’ll understand from a business perspective if he is not on the Opening Day roster, I firmly believe he should be.
All spring, the Mets have talked about carrying “the best 25” guys on the Opening Day roster.— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) March 17, 2019
Is there a case *against* Pete Alonso being one of the best 25?
Mickey Callaway: “At this point? No. Plain and simple. We still have a week and a half left, but he’s done a great job.”
Brodie and Mickey Callaway have discussed carrying the best 25 players, and you are flat out lying if Alonso is not a part of that. Either way I am very excited for Alonso’s future, and hopefully when we are at Citi Field on April 4th and they have Opening Day ceremonies we can hear Citi Field erupt when Howie Rose announces “Playing 1st Base, Number 20.. Pete Alonso!”
Do you want Pete Alonso to start at 1B on Opening Day?— The 7 Line (@The7Line) March 18, 2019