The New York Mets offense has struggled since a fantastic April, so why hasn't the second best hitter in the Pacific Coast League received a promotion?
There is no secret to the struggles of the Mets offense over the past month. Undoubtedly the losses of David Wright and Lucas Duda have contributed to what was a potent lineup through April. At the end of April, the Mets were in the top ten in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, runs scored, wRC+, and wins above replacement (WAR).
In May and June they have struggled to continue on April's success that saw them go 15-7. Now the Mets are 30th in average, 26th in on-base percentage, 24th in slugging percentage, 13th in home runs, 20th in wRC+, and 21st in WAR. This is a stark contrast in what was a top ten offense in April. However, this is not an article about where the Mets and their offense have gone wrong, but rather an article on who may be able to add a jolt to their offense.
Over the course of the last few weeks the Mets have added James Loney, Kelly Johnson, Jose Reyes (currently in Binghamton working his way back to the major league level), and Brandon Nimmo to try and jumpstart a staggering lineup. Time will tell what Jose Reyes will contribute to the major league level, but James Loney has proven to be a capable option at first until Lucas Duda returns. Kelly Johnson gives the Mets depth and Brandon Nimmo is just getting his first taste of the major leagues, so over the next month we will see what the early returns are on him.
The Mets have another player in Las Vegas who has exhibited the skill to hit on a consistent basis. It is not Dilson Herrera - even though a case can be made to call him up - but the player I am talking about is T.J. Rivera.
As of June 30th, Rivera has slashed .361/.400/.521 with seven home runs and 52 runs batted in. He missed two weeks with a brief DL stint, but returned this past Tuesday, June 28th.
Let's go back to the consistency of T.J. Rivera's minor league career so far. From the beginning of his minor league career in 2011, he has hit .300 or better at every level, except Kingsport in 2011, where he hit .290, and Port St. Luice in 2013, where he hit .289. If we can say anything about Rivera it is he will hit for high average and certainly get on base.
Besides his bat, Rivera provides a great deal of versatility. In just 2016, Rivera has played 68 innings at first, 67 innings at second, 269 innings at third, and 71 innings in left field. The injuries and struggles of the everyday players in the Mets lineup have necessitated players on the team to be versatile and play multiple positions. Rivera provides that perhaps as well as anybody in the Mets system.
A deterrent to the promotion of T.J. Rivera is the fact he is not on the 40-man roster. I think this may have played a role in him not receiving a call up to the big leagues yet, along with the disabled list stint he had for the last two weeks. There is certainly an avenue to making room on the 40-man roster for Rivera, the Mets will also have to make room in about a month's time for Zack Wheeler when he comes off the disabled list, so that is two roster spots the Mets will need to clear up soon.
They would run the risk of losing players like Ty Kelly (another versatile player), Josh Smoker, or Josh Edgin if they were to make a roster move. Again, just speculating names on my part to make room on the roster, but there may be one particular way to make room now for Rivera. If the Mets were to move David Wright to the 60-day disabled list, effectively ending his season, then there would be room on the 40-man roster for T.J. Rivera. However, without knowing the specifics if there is indeed a shot for Wright to return at some point in 2016, then the Mets would not do that.
Now by no means do I expect Rivera to come up to the major leagues and be the savior of a struggling lineup, but he will provide them with a solid bat that works great at-bats. He has produced at every level of the minor leagues and if there is one thing missing from the current Mets lineup it is production. If Rivera came up to the Mets and hit at least .280 on a consistent basis, then, even without hitting home runs, he may ignite a dormant Mets offense. We all know hitting can be contagious so why not spread it all over the Mets lineup sooner rather than later?