When Lucas Duda was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays on July 27, 2017 I was emotional enough for myself and Lucas ‘no emotion’ Duda. Just 2 years’ prior Duda was helping the Mets get to the World Series and now he was being shipped away. Only 31 at the time I knew he had more to offer the Mets but I also knew the tides were turning and it was only a matter of time before top prospect Dominic Smith would be making his Major League debut. Smith had been talked about a lot before making his official debut as a New York Met. Jose Reyes was quoted saying:
With an endorsement like that from one of the best Mets in recent memory, you just had to ‘believe’ that Smith was something special. 6 feet tall, and 239 pounds, Smith worked as hard as he could during Spring Training to get in tip top shape. His friend Amed Rosario had been called up on August 1st and ten days later, the duo would both be dawning official New York Mets’ uniforms. Smith made his debut at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies. Recording your first hit puts a lot of pressure on a player (just look at Rhys Hoskins) but Smith took care of that nice and early. Hitting a single in the top of the fourth inning against Nick Pivetta. He went one for three that night but was impressive defensively and he was living up to the hype.
If Smith hadn’t won over the fans yet, he certainly did a few days later. Smith hit his first home run off of Yankee’s Starting Pitcher Sonny Gray during the Subway Series. Is there a better way to hit your first home run as a Met? A two run homer to put your team on the board and put left fielder Aaron Hicks on his rear end in front of all the Yankee fans as he tried to catch the ball? It doesn’t get any better than that. Smith finished his 49 game 2017 season with 17 Runs, 33 Hits, 6 Doubles, 9 Home Runs, 26 RBIs, 14 BBs, 49 Strikeouts, .198 BA, .262 OBP, .395 SLG and .658 OPS.
With that being said, Sandy Alderson was asked if Dominic Smith would have to win the job at first base. Sandy answered with “He didn’t win it in September, let’s put it that way.” Well jeez, why don’t tell us how you really feel Sandy? In all seriousness, I don’t blame Sandy for this. I know I can be very critical of him and his decision making but it’s a game of winning and if you’re hitting under the Mendoza line, you’re not helping the team win. And Dominic Smith felt the same way. He took the criticism as motivation. Smith lost 12 pounds and looks to get back into tip top shape after letting himself go a bit after 2017’s Spring Training. Smith understood where Sandy was coming from, he knows it’s all about winning and if he’s not one of the best 9 players, he shouldn’t be in the lineup.
This brings us into the question at hand: “Who should be the Mets’ first baseman?” There’s a couple of options on the free agent market but the guy that’s been talked about most is Adam Lind. Lind, who signed with the Nationals in 2017 had a pretty good year playing for the Division Rivals. Lind played in Toronto from 2006 to 2014 where he played a few positions. Up until 2011 he rarely ever played first base. Instead he was used as either the Designated Hitter or a corner outfielder. From 2011 until 2016 he played almost primarily at first base until 2017 where he shared the position with the comeback king, Ryan Zimmerman. Lind finished the 2017 season with some impressive numbers. Playing 116 games, he had 39 Runs, 81 Hits, 14 Doubles, 14 Home Runs, 59 RBIs, One Stolen Base, 28 BBs, 47 Strikeouts, .303 Batting Average, .362 OBP, .513 SLG, and, .875 OPS.
The numbers don’t lie, Adam Lind is one hell of a ball player and he’d be a great addition to the team. I have one problem with the idea of signing him though. This is all hypothetical, but let’s say that the Mets sign Lind in January. And then around Spring Training, Dominic Smith starts tearing it up and by June he’s the hottest thing going in AAA and clearly ready for the big leagues. What happens then? Lind is an everyday player, he’s not a platoon guy. So the question would be, do you leave Dominic Smith to dwindle in AAA when he could be in the big leagues tearing it up or do you bring him up and have him split playing time with Lind? There’s always the possibility that Lind could switch from first base to the outfield if that happens, and that would work exceptionally well if Conforto isn’t healthy by the time the regular season rolls around. Again, this is all hypothetical and “what if” scenarios.
At the moment though, I think the Mets would be foolish not to pursue Adam Lind to at least a one-year contract. He’ll be 34 by 2018 and could still offer the team what they’re looking for in more way than one. A first baseman, an outfielder and a power hitter. As for Dominic Smith, I expect to see him in the big leagues sooner rather than later and wouldn’t be surprised if he gets called up in the middle of the season in some form or another. But, only time will tell what Sandy has in store. Hopefully, as I alluded to in my previous post, he isn’t as clueless as I think he might be.