To turn attention away from Mike Piazza and the Hall of Fame vote for just a minute, let’s discuss the future Mike Piazza, or so we hope.
The Mets acquired Travis d’Arnaud, their catcher of the future, in the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays.
But why can’t the future be right now?
d’Arnaud said he’s ready to play and recovered from a knee injury that ended his minor league season early last year.
All indications point to d’Arnaud starting the 2013 campaign in the minors. That’s fine, but there’s no need to extend his stay just so he can get “seasoning.”
The Mets likely want to have him start in the minors in order to delay his eventual free agency as well as adjust to his new surroundings. If he spends the first 20 days of this season in the minors, his free-agent clock will start in 2014, rather than this year.
But once that day passes, I’d really like to see the 24-year-old catching prospect in the Majors.
The best way to gain experience in the big leagues is to actually play in the big leagues. I’m all about making sure a prospect is ready, but from everything I’ve read on d’Arnaud, he’s ready.
Especially if the team won’t be too competitive this season, I’d rather see d’Arnaud struggle to find his way so that he’s ready for 2014, when the team has more financial flexibility to improve the roster.
But who knows? Maybe the kid bursts onto the scene and takes positive strides this season. We won’t ever know unless he’s given the chance.
The Mets are also weary of starting d’Arnaud in the bigs right away because the organization wants the catcher to develop chemistry with top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.
Well, just like I believe d’Arnaud should be in the bigs as soon as possible, that’s how I feel about Wheeler. Give the young guys a shot, and they can develop chemistry together at Citi Field, rather than Las Vegas.
So the plan should be to let them both spend the necessary 20 days in the minors for free agency purposes, and then once they’re available, bring them up in May.
If the organization doesn’t have the money to bring in star players, at least it can give the fans a feel for what they have to look forward to in the coming seasons.
No offense to John Buck, but he’s not exactly a guy who fills up a stadium. But d’Arnaud playing regularly on the other hand may get the fanbase excited.
The sooner d’Arnaud and Wheeler crack the roster, the sooner the Mets will reveal their long-term identity.