So, for almost two weeks, we’ve been hearing that Travis d’Arnaud is ready for prime time, and will be called up when John Buck departs for paternity leave. While Mets fans have waited to see the heralded backstop join the lineup, he’s hit well in triple-A Las Vegas, demonstrating that he’s got his timing back and is well healed from his foot injury. And while D’Arnaud has showed his promise in the minor leagues, the Mets continue struggling to score runs consistently. This begs the question: Why are they waiting?
John Buck has reinvented his approach, and begun to hit line-drives up the middle and occasionally drive in key runs. Unfortunately, he hasn’t gone back to hitting home runs. While this might bode well for his overall productivity, and even the Mets’ productivity with him in the lineup, it doesn’t give the team what it sorely needs: a power bat in the middle of the order. Anthony Recker, despite his linebacker build, has not only failed to supply power but generally failed to hit with any consistency. He occasionally runs into a home run or gapper, but he mostly seems overmatched in his at-bats. If promoted, D’Arnaud would almost certainly hit better than Recker, even if he failed to meet the lofty expectations of many.
In recent weeks, the Mets have shown glimpses of their promising future. Their new-look outfield has combined excitement and hustle, manufacturing runs and playing outstanding defense. Their pitching staff, both starters and relievers, has mostly been impressive. The biggest thing they’ve lacked is true power — and while Ike Davis‘ current on-base binge is an improvement, it’s certainly not what fans or management have hoped for.
Travis D’Arnaud seems to be just what they’re looking for in this department, and bringing him up would not only generate fan excitement but give him a chance to get his feet wet as an everyday major-league player. If he struggles mightily, they can deal with the situation accordingly. But if he prospers, then not only will the Mets’ offense address a glaring necessity but he’ll gather a bit of seasoning down the stretch. This will help build his confidence and make him a bit more comfortable when he begins his first full year with the team. In the meantime, Recker can be sent back to the minors, to further cultivate his game and possibly explore his own upside.
If Travis D’Arnaud is truly healthy enough to play, there’s almost no downside to promoting him immediately. Whether he starts, platoons or begins as a second-stringer, the experience will be valuable for him — and the excitement will be valuable for the fans.