The Mets made the right decision in telling outfielder Michael Conforto that he will start the season on the disabled list. There is no reason whatsoever that he should be with the team come Thursday in their season opener at home against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Why get greedy? We all know that the Major League Baseball season is 162 games and is a marathon and not a sprint. We all know the importance of Conforto, longterm, for the Mets not just in 2018 but for seasons to come. Now is the time to take care of and nurture their prized possession and handle him with care. No need to be reckless in their decision making.
Conforto has played in just 274 games on the major league level. He first cracked in with the Mets in 2015 when he was a first round draft choice out of Oregon State. He had instant success, hitting .270 in 56 games with 9 HR and 26 RBI as the Mets made a run to the World Series, eventually falling to the Kansas City Royals. After a bad season in 2016, he bounced back a year ago – hitting .279 with 27 HR and 68 RBI with 72 runs scored in 109 games and 373 AB’s before having his season cut short due to injury. In what was a disastrous season for the organization, he was one of the real bright spots.
He is just 25 years-old and needs to be handled like the cornerstone piece fo the franchise that he is. Yes, the Mets are looking to make 2017 a distant memory and are hoping for a far more healthy and successful campaign in 2018. But when you look at the risk-reward analysis of brining Conforto back a lot sooner than expected, the risk does not match the reward. Especially if you factor in the breakout spring of outfielder Brandon Nimmo this spring, where he has hit .310 this spring in 18 games and 58 at-bats, he has filled up the stat page with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs and 11 RBI. It certainly eases the pressure of brining Conforto back sooner than expected when you have someone that has shown some capability of playing well.
But if you put the Nimmo spring success aside, just think about the asset of Conforto as he needs to be protected and nurtured even if he is 100-percent healthy. It is better to be overly-patient. It is better to wait than to push forward.
Conforto is coming off of shoulder surgery in September for a torn capsule in his left shoulder after dislocating his shoulder while swinging at a pitch and he had an original target date of May 1 to be back with the team. Yes, he is ahead of schedule. Yes, he did play five innings on Saturday in centerfield, and when talking to reporters after, he seemed like all systems were go. But, they are not and they should not be. The Mets made the correct decision to hold Conforto back and not push the timeline up dramatically.
Yes, he will assume his starting spot in centerfield when he has enough innings under his belt for the Mets to deem him ready to go. Yes, his importance to the Mets in 2018 has not been minimized. I can easily make the argument that he is the best overall hitter on the roster. I was one that argued that he should have been called up sooner in 2015 than he did. He is going to be a wonderful player and a star in this city for years to come. With that being said, it is better to be safe than sorry. Don’t get greedy, and the Mets did not in handling their young star outfielder. He will be with the Mets a lot sooner than May 1, but it was the right call that it wasn’t March 29.