Backup backstop battle: Anthony Recker v. Landon Powell

As an overabundance of Michael Bourn rumors float around in the minds of Mets fans everywhere, the team will see pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than a week.

Pending any new additions, the Mets have spots on the opening day roster available, which should create healthy competition between players for the open jobs.

Which spots are up for grabs? Who is most likely to earn the illustrious start on opening day?

Today we’ll look at the competition for the most gruelling position on the field, catcher.

The Mets received John Buck as one of the pieces in the R.A. Dickey trade and he will likely to be the opening day starter for New York.

Buck had a career year for the Blue Jays in 2010, which earned him a nice three-year contract with the Marlins. After a so-so ‘11 where he hit .227/.316/.367 and added 16 home runs and 57 RBI, the veteran backstop struggled last season hitting .192/.297/.347. Not the kind of numbers a team would expect from someone earning $6 million. Miami flipped him to Toronto in the 12-player blockbuster headlined by Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson. Toronto had no use for him so they ate a big chunk of his salary and included him in the deal for Dickey.

It looks as if Buck’s seniority, experience with handling a pitching staff and power potential should earn him the starting nod, but nothing is set in stone. We all know that players are lost to injury or can stink it up so bad in spring that their chance at the opening day gig flies out the window and they wind up riding the pine, collecting splinters from their behinds.

Anthony Recker is the favourite to win the back-up catching job. The 29-year old split last season between the A’s and Cubs, but didn’t do much with the bat hitting .167/.286/.389. He’ll have to earn the job and he has some competition.

The Mets have non-roster invites Landon Powell and Juan Centeno and Travis d’Arnaud – one of the top prospects in baseball – vying for a spot on the team, so the competition should be stiff.

The catching job will eventually go to d’Arnaud. The seat is just being kept warm for him, but unless he completely tears the cover off the ball in spring, he will probably start the season in Las Vegas.

Centeno has never played above Double-A and doesn’t seem to have a good chance at making the Major League club, although stranger things have happened and he could be a diamond in the rough amongst the Mets’ NRIs.

In my opinion, the real battle in spring training for the back-up spot is between Recker and Powell.

Powell has the most MLB experience of those vying for the back-up job. He has better career offensive numbers (.207/.284/.328) than his competition. He has some pop in his bat (10 HR) and he is less than a year older than Recker.

He could be the best of the options in camp, unless the team is willing to give d’Arnaud the shot.

Recker is currently projected to start the season as the Mets’ back-up catcher, but he isn’t a sure thing, d’Arnaud has the most upside, but may need time, Centeno is a long shot and Powell may be the one that everyone has forgotten about.

It should make for an interesting competition and should be one to watch this spring. Keep your eyes on it.

Published by: Mets360

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