Walker and Cabrera Proving to be Big Pickups

The Mets acquired Neil Walker on December 9, 2015 from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for starting pitcher Jon Niese. Neil is a Pittsburgh kid who came up in the Pirates organization and was loved by the fans. He was drafted as a catcher, then was moved to third in the minors. The Pirates had the power hitting Pedro Alvarez at third, so Walker was moved to second where he settled in, and has since been a very dependable second-baseman.

Two days after the Walker trade was made official, the Mets added his middle infield parter in veteran shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. The 10 year veteran signed a two year deal worth $18.5 million. Cabrera was clearly brought in to take over for infielders Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada. He has bounced around the league, playing 8 years in Cleveland, 1 year in Washington, and 1 year in Tampa. He is a two time all-star with the Indians and has 1,126 hits in his career.

Walker’s glove isn’t solid, but it is a significant upgrade over Daniel Murphy. In 792 career games at second, Neil has only 41 errors, compared to Murphy’s 54 in 504 games at second. An MLB evaluator who has watched Walker closely said about his defense, “Walker is a way better defender than he gets credit for, because he is so reliable, you get every double play turned that you are supposed to get.”

Cabrera is the same way with his glove. Is he the best option in the MLB? No. Is he an upgrade from last year’s shortstops? Definitely. Cabrera doesn’t have the best range, but he will make all of the routine play’s. In 883 game’s as a shortstop, he has 93 error’s. Cabrera is not going to wow you with his glove, but he will definitely turn some of the hits given up in the hole last year into outs.

These days when a routine grounder is hit to second or short, Mets fans including myself, don’t have to panic anymore. Mets fans as well as Mets pitchers love this. Also, on the double plays there could be miscommunication between two new guys playing together for the first time. However, Walker and Cabrera have looked real comfortable together thus far. The Mets middle infield hasn’t looked this in a long time. Hopefully this early communication and solid defense continues for both veteran infielders.

Neil Walker has a solid bat, he is more of a power hitting second-baseman. In every season, Walker has hit at least double-digits in home-runs. His highest home-run total came when he won the NL Silver Slugger in 2014 after hitting 23 home-runs. Walker averages about .270 a season with at least 120 hits and 15 homers. He will definitely pick up the slack lost in Murphy’s bat.

Asdrubal Cabrera has hung around the league this long because of his bat. He is a career .260 hitter who can hit both lefties and righties. He is very similar to Wilmer Flores with the bat, he has some pop. Over the past couple of seasons, Cabrera’s numbers have gone down as he his getting older, but the second half of last season with Tampa he hit .352 with 10 HR’s. Cabrera isn’t going to put up the all star numbers he once did, but he will definitely do what he can to help this team.

Walker came up huge smacking the go-ahead two run home-run against the Reds Monday night. He now has hit eight home-runs in the Mets first eighteen games. He is tied for second for the most home-runs in April in Mets history. This is way beyond what was expected, as Neil is now hitting .301 with 14 RBI’s. He has taken us Mets fans by storm, and we are loving it. In fact, during the 8th inning of Monday nights game after his mammoth home-run, we heard some “Neil Walker” chants. That must be awesome for him, as only a few weeks in to the young season he has already won over the tough New York fans.

Hitting in the six hole and producing those types of numbers is a great sign for Walker. I do feel that at some point in the season Walker will be moved up to the top half of the order where he has hit most of his career. Since he hits mostly extra-base hits I think he could create more RBI opportunities for the big bats in the lineup, such as Cespedes, Conforto, and Duda. However, for now I would leave him where he his comfortable and hot.

Asdrubal Cabrera has also exceeded all expectations so far. He is hitting an incredible .318 with 21 hits in 66 at-bats. He has 5 extra base-hits (1 HR) and 5 RBI’s in the brief campaign and has reached base safely in 15 of the 18 games he has played in. Cabrera has done everything the Mets have asked of him, picking up big hits when needed and driving in runs. Last week, Cabrera dropped down a bunt late in the game with the infield back, a man on third, and two men out. He beat it out and the Mets extended their lead. Heads up baseball like that is what the Mets are looking for out of the 10-year veteran. So far Cabrera has appeared in both the second spot and the seventh spot in the lineup. He looked real comfortable hitting behind Curtis Granderson in the two hole, and I think those two veterans would be a great one-two punch leading up to the big bats.

Both Cabrera and Walker have been huge pickups thus far. Getting these big early contributions from such unexpected guys is why this Mets offense is gelling. The infield looks real strong, and the lineup is starting to come together. These two offseason pickups will prove to be huge additions to the 2016 ball club.

Welcome to New York baseball Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, it’s going to be fun!

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