The Mets’ incredible 2006 season started nearly six years ago, a seemingly distant memory after a couple years of heartbreak and a few more of a complete failure to seriously contend for another shot in the playoffs. It was at the height of the team’s success that summer that the Mets acquired Mike Nickeas from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Victor Diaz, a move that drew attention for Diaz’s departure more so than Nickeas’ arrival. At the time, Nickeas was 23 and had mixed results at the plate over his first three seasons with the Rangers’ affiliates.
From 2007 through 2011, Nickeas mostly split his time between Binghamton and Buffalo, posting the following OPS in each respective season: .593, .577, .458, .771, and .589. As a result, it’s not all that surprising that Nickeas only has 69 plate appearances at baseball’s highest level thus far. He’s gone .190/.239/.254 in his limited time between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, which is an incredibly small sample but makes sense given his track record in the minor leagues. It’s worth noting that although he’s a right-handed hitter, Nickeas has generally been at his best when facing right-handed pitchers in the minors.
Despite his offensive struggles throughout his career, the soon-to-be 29-year-old Nickeas is penciled in as the Mets’ backup catcher for the upcoming season. Whereas the team looked for a platoon last year with Ronny Paulino and Josh Thole, the situation in 2012 figures to be one in which Thole is the starter and Nickeas is the backup. The one thing that Nickeas might be able to provide this year is defense, a topic he discussed with Ted Berg last year. If Thole stays healthy all year, Nickeas might be able to stick with the Mets, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a rotation of backup catchers between Buffalo and Queens.