35 Days. 35 Days is all that stands between us and the 2016 MLB season. In 35 days pitchers and catchers will report to the New York Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, and the road to repeat as National League Champions begins. Coming off their first Division Title in nine years, not to mention their first Pennant since 2000, expectations are going to run high in 2016 for the Amazins‘, especially with the talent they boast in their pitching rotation.
Willie Bloomquist Makes Sense in Queens
To the dismay of many fans, the Mets offseason hasn’t be filled with groundbreaking additions for the club. More often than not, the team has seen their key contributors from 2015 depart. Daniel Murphy has officially jumped ship to the division rival Washington Nationals, who remain as the Mets biggest obstacle to obtaining another NL East Title. Michael Cuddyer has decided to hang up his spikes after 2015 took a significant toll on his body. Tyler Clippard remains a free-agent and is not expected to return to the Mets. Juan Uribe is MIA. Kelly Johnson is returning to the Atlanta Braves. But let’s not forget about Yoenis Cespedes, the man who single handedly carried the Mets after the July trade deadline. Cespedes is still chasing a nine-figure deal, and while Mets fans retain hope the club could bring back the Cuban slugger on a shorter deal, it’s not likely.
To counter all of these departures, the Mets made a series of counter moves, but so far it seems that the roster is significantly less talented than it was at the end of 2015. In December, Sandy Alderson shipped Jon Niese to Pittsburgh in exchange for second baseman Neil Walker. Walker will be a suitable replacement to Murphy, but it will be tough to replace Murphy’s consistent production at the plate and torrid offensive explosion in the playoffs. The club also brought in Asdrubal Cabrera to compete with Wilmer Flores for the starting shortstop role. Both of these acquisitions switch hit and play third, giving the Mets a ton of Major League proven versatility in their infield, and the ability to sell David Wright if his back doesn’t hold up. Alejandro De Aza will also be joining the Mets in 2016 to platoon with Juan Lagares in centerfield, despite the fact that De Aza is not much of a centerfielder. The key thing to note here is that there is not much significant offensive improvement with roster as it stands. Additionally, the Mets will be bringing back left handed reliever Jerry Blevins and reliable starter Bartolo Colon in 2016. Blevins got off to a great start out of the bullpen before injuries cut his 2015 season short and Colon is a man who needs no introduction. He will serve as an important filler until Zack Wheeler finishes his rehab from Tommy-John Surgery and then probably play a key role in the bullpen.
Now the likelihood of the Mets landing an impact bat or star player is very slim, but they do still have needs with attainable solutions. Most importantly, the Mets need an established reliever to slot into an eighth inning to protect Jeurys Familia in the ninth, and a right handed bat that can backup Lucas Duda at first base and be utilized in the outfield if necessary. The Mets have been in contact with 1B-OF Steve Pearce, and he seems like the likely choice to bring aboard, but floating under the radar is a guy who may be exactly what the Mets need in Willie Bloomquist. Now before you all start jumping down my throat, I am by no means saying Willie Bloomquist is due for a breakout. The man is knocking on the door of retirement and will be out of baseball any day now, but he has stated himself that he is not ready to retire and brings two crucial things to any ball-club: defensive viability and veteran leadership.
Willie Bloomquist told me recently he’s not officially retired and is waiting to see if a good situation presents itself before ST.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 13, 2016
The role I picture Willie Bloomquist playing with the Mets is that of Michael Cuddyer‘s, minus all the expectations. When Cuddyer joined the Mets, expectations were high due to his high salary and the fact that the Mets had to relinquish their first round draft pick. Cuddyer never lived up to offensive expectations and spent a good amount of time on the disabled list, but provided veteran leadership that will be sorely missed in 2016. Yes, everyone is a year older and has a little bit more experience, but a successful team needs that elder statesmen around to keep everyone focused and the young guys in check. At age 38, Bloomquist brings a wide array of experience after 15 big league seasons spent with four different clubs. Bloomquist may have lost a few steps over the years, but is still the kind of guy who can play any position asked. With 47 career games at first base, over 300 in the outfield and another 500 split between the other infield spots, Bloomquist not only fills the need for a right handed batter that can play first base and outfield, but can virtually be used any where and gives Terry Collins even more versatility to play with in his lineup.
The moral of the story is Bloomquist will not make or break the Mets season. However, he fills a clear need and he is a cheap under the radar option that could serve as a key role player on the 2016 Mets. With a great clubhouse guy like Cuddyer no longer a member of the club, Bloomquist could be exactly what the kind of leader needed in the locker room in the chase for the 2016 National League Pennant.