(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
It has been clear for quite some time that the Mets were not a team that was in serious contention for the wild card, but their play in the month of August has made them tough to watch. Clearly, the focus for the rest of the season is the future of the team, and there a couple of players on the roster right now who might factor into better Mets teams in 2012 and beyond.
Josh Thole is one of the younger players on the team whose abilities as a major league hitter are still to be determined. Although he's gotten more time at the plate than Ronny Paulino, Thole still has a mere 569 plate appearances over two-plus seasons in the big leagues. In total, Thole's hit .273/.351/.355, which doesn't look great but isn't particularly awful considering his position. Catchers these days can't really hit.
From now until the end of the season, Thole should get more playing time, particularly against left-handed pitching. Only 74 of Thole's trips to the plate in the big leagues - thirteen percent, in other words - have come against southpaws. He's been really bad in those attempts (.200 wOBA) compared to his performance against right-handed pitchers (.332 wOBA), but we're talking about the smallest of small samples of data. Since Ronny Paulino's getting plenty of starts against righties, there's really no reason that Thole can't get starts against lefties.
The Mets might find out that Thole really is incapable of hitting left-handed pitchers, but there's no better time than now to give him the chance to prove himself. The more the Mets know about Thole, the better idea they'll have about his future with the team beyond the current platoon with Paulino. More time against left-handed starters certainly figures to better prepare him to inevitably face lefty relievers, too.
If Josh Thole can provide an above-average bat for his position, he'll be a valuable asset for the Mets moving forward. As for his defensive abilities, many of his passed balls have come while catching R.A. Dickey, and he's thrown out twenty-nine percent of runners attempting to steal in his young career, which seems decent enough. If Thole improves upon what he's done so far in his career, it would be a pleasant surprise for the Mets, but even if he doesn't, he'll still be a perfectly reasonable, low-cost option for them behind the plate.