Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mike Piazza to Catchers: It's Time to Improve

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mike Piazza to Catchers: It's Time to Improve

Article excerpt

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Without using any inflammatory words, Mike Piazza offered a fair critique of the Mets' catching duo of Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.

"There's nothing wrong with looking at Travis and Kevin and challenging them to get better this year and to play better and to improve their performance realistically," Piazza said prior to Saturday's 10-5 loss to the Cardinals. "You can't be afraid to take that next step and put yourself out there and say, 'Look, I want to play better this year.' Doesn't mean you haven't been playing hard before, but there's a difference between playing hard and playing better and getting results. I'm expecting more out of them."

Expecting more from Plawecki and d'Arnaud has been a constant theme for the past few seasons, and the Mets are once again hoping that this will finally be the year the two live up to their potential. The pair have at times showcased why there so touted as minor leaguers, but those moments have been too infrequent in the majors.

D'Arnaud, 29, hit a career-high 16 homers while playing in a career-best 112 games last year. There are still concerns about his ability to throw runners, and he has not come close to producing the .825 OPS he did during his 2015 campaign.

Plawecki, who turns 27 on Monday, had his best showing as a major leaguer last year, posting an .885 OPS over his last 27 games. He finally looked the part of a capable major leaguer after constantly bouncing between the majors and the minors.

If those two can build off their seasons, the Mets stand to have one of the better catching duos in the sport. Neither came close to being a premier player at the position last year but the Mets still finished in the middle of the pack in most offensive rankings.

Among catchers, the Mets finished 19th in on-base percentage, 10th in slugging, 12th in OPS, tied for 10th in homers, and seventh in RBI. Those numbers don't shine, but they are representative enough that the Mets opted to stick with pair.

"I definitely know I'm a better player than I've shown so far," said Plawecki, who drove in three runs in two plate appearances Saturday. …

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