With the signing of Cespedes, some of the other offseason moves have gotten overlooked.
Our bullpen is looking much better, our depth in the outfield is much improved, and we have added significant depth in the infield. Assuming everyone stays and there are no additional moves, Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada will be coming off the bench. There has been a post here already about our new second baseman, Neil Walker, so I wanted to talk about our new shortstop a little bit.
Asdrubal Cabrera made his Major League debut in 2007 with the Cleveland Indians. He has played for the Indians, the Washington Nationals, and most recently with the Tampa Bay Rays. Since signing with the Mets, many have dug into the stats to see what kind of player he has been and will be for New York. I will give you a few stats below but head over to Baseball-Reference (dot) com to check out all the numbers for Cabrera.
Offensively, he will certainly hold his own in the lower portion of the lineup. In 143 games in 2015, he hit .265 with 15 HR and 58 RBIs. As you smart Mets fans already know, that is extremely close to the numbers Wilmer Flores put up in 2015. Wilmer hit .263 with 16 HR and 59 RBIs. Tejada’s offensive numbers are much lower than both of these guys.
Cabrera’s best offensive season was in 2011 with the Cleveland Indians. He hit .273 with 25 HR and 92 RBIs and was named an All-Star for the American League. If he can recreate that season for the Mets this year…watch out. Realistically, no one is expecting that, but we can all hope, right?
Defensively, Cabrera had a .980 fielding percentage compared to .965 for Flores and a .962 fielding percentage for Tejada in 2015. Since this is the area we all wanted improvement for 2016, eyes will be on how Cabrera handles the position in the early part of the season. If he struggles with the glove fans will not have much patience, unless he’s rocking 2011 offensive numbers.
Cabrera has played some second base, most recently with the Washington Nationals in 2014, where he had a .995 fielding percentage in 48 games. He has 1 game at third base so it will be interesting to see if he gets any time there when Wright gets a day off.
It will be interesting to see how Cabrera and Walker play the middle, how their double plays look, the range they bring to balls hit up the middle. We have some high strikeout pitchers, which should help lessen the number of opportunities for sure, but the middle infield still needs to make plays on a consistent basis. How many innings last year were extended because a double play was not turned? How many extra pitches were thrown because of an error? That is all certainly part of the game but if the Mets can end innings with lower pitch counts for their pitchers, it only extends their starts and keeps the bullpen fresh and healthy.
I’m certainly going to give Cabrera a fair shake and see what kind of player he will be for the Mets. Having Wilmer Flores has a sort of ‘super backup’ playing multiple positions is a nice problem to have.
It will be interesting to see the double play combo of Cabrera and Walker and how they cover the middle infield.