Lost in the hysteria of the Mets 9-1 start was how by and large Sandy Alderson poorly constructed this Mets roster, and how it is going to unfairly punish players.
Adrian Gonzalez was an obvious choice because he merited just a one year league minimum deal because the Atlanta Braves released him after the Dodgers dumped him on them. If Gonzalez showed you anything, like he has so far this season, it would prove to be a massive bargain.
However, Gonzalez’s signing meant Jay Bruce, who was also signed to a three year deal, was going to be strictly used as a right fielder. With Conforto on the disabled list, that was fine because Bruce could play right field, Gonzalez or Smith would play first, and in the interim Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares could platoon in center.
However, two strange things happened. First, Nimmo built on his impressive second half last season, and he won the center field job in Spring Training. The other strange thing, especially, when it comes to the Mets, is Conforto healed quicker than anticipated and was ready month(s) in advance of his expected return date.
Nimmo still took advantage of his limited time to impress. So far this season, he’s hitting .333/.600/.444 with a stolen base. That’s not a typo, Nimmo does have a .600 OBP which is fueled by his remarkable eye at the plate.
Where has this gotten him? Well, first, it led to him sitting on the bench because no matter how well he’s playing, the Mets were not going to play him over three All Stars in the outfield. Also, with Gonzalez playing well, even better than Bruce, there was no way the Mets were going to play Bruce at first over him to permit Nimmo to play.
Then, because Mickey Callaway burned through an entire bullpen that had an extra arm in it over the first nine games of the season, Nimmo found himself in Triple-A. It didn’t matter he had a great start to the season. He was the one who had to go down to the minors. Why?
Well, the first reason is Sandy Alderson built an odd bench featuring Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores. Flores is here because he’s cost controlled, can absolutely mash left-handed pitching, has made improvements against right-handed pitching, and even if he does it poorly, he can play all four infield positions. More than that, Flores willingly learned to play the outfield just to get more playing time.
For his part, Reyes is coming off a season where he was the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball, including a -15 DRS at shortstop. At this point in his career, he struggles against right-handed pitching. Unlike Flores, he was not eager to learn the outfield to get more playing time.
Because Flores and Reyes cannot be sent down without being put through waivers, and the Mets desperately needing another bullpen arm, Nimmo gets sent down.
Nimmo got sent down despite having an absurdly high .600 OBP. He got sent down despite his showing he’s one of the best 25 Mets players in the entire organization. He got sent down even with him doing everything to prove to everyone he shouldn’t have been the one to be sent down.
Basically, he was sent down because Sandy Alderson didn’t build a versatile enough bench and because this past offseason the Mets focused more on nostalgia than practicality. It was short-sided, and Nimmo was the one who suffers. Given how this roster was constructed and how Callaway uses his relievers, this likely won’t be the last time.