francisco alvarez mets
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For a long time, it looked like the Mets forgot how to play winning baseball. But they’ve turned things around in the most dramatic way possible this week. New York has won five in a row, as well as seven of 10. Manager Buck Showalter’s club has been invigorated by the “Baby Mets”, which includes Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos.

As they prepare to face the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, the Mets are 25-23, back in second place in the National League East, and are just five games behind the Atlanta Braves.

Things are finally great again, right? Right?! Well, depending on who you ask, New York is on the verge of having to deal with a tough situation. It involves Alvarez and his fellow backstops on the Mets’ catcher depth chart.

But it doesn’t have to be hard. Seriously — it’s actually a pretty easy decision. And if things don’t result in Alvarez staying in the big leagues, then it’ll be hard to take them seriously.

The Mets have two spots for catchers on the big-league roster for four guys: Alvarez, Gary Sanchez, Tomas Nido, and Omar Narvaez. And if you want to count Michael Perez, make it five. While there are some tough decisions to make, there should be no way Alvarez is getting sent back to Triple-A Syracuse.

After a slow start (and inconsistent playing time), Alvarez has performed tremendously for the Mets. In 92 total plate appearances, he’s slashing .238/.304/.464 with five home runs, 11 RBI, and 10 runs scored. He’s also thrown in some clutch late-game hits, as well as performing nicely with his glove behind the plate.

And if we look at the past month of play, the 21-year-old is among baseball’s best on offense at his position:

Even as he’s done this, we’ve been hearing about how the upcoming catcher roster crunch will be difficult. Oh, and since Alvarez is the only one with minor-league options, he could very well be the odd guy out.

SNY’s Andy Martino said the following in a ridiculous article, which you can hate-read here if you’d like:

Omar Narvaez (calf injury) is expected back in about three weeks, which could be ahead of Nido. The way the Mets think of it, Narvaez’s roster spot is secure, and the front office and manager Buck Showalter would decide in the short term between Sanchez and Alvarez.

Alvarez is batting just .218 with a .274 on-base percentage, including .167 in his past seven games, but has impressed veterans and coaches with his energy, work ethic and pitch-framing.

But he does have options, meaning that he can be sent to the minor leagues without losing him — and the same can’t be said for Sanchez or Nido. Perhaps Alvarez will build on his dramatic home run Wednesday and hit enough to force his continued presence on the roster.

The situation could become particularly complicated when Nido returns. The team continues to value his defense highly, and believes that he is a better hitter than he showed this year while dealing with the vision issue. The choice between Nido and Sanchez, if it comes to that, would have to come down to health and performance when the time comes.

Prior to Sunday’s doubleheader sweep, Showalter kept it vague, but we all know he likes his veterans:

To put the cherry on top of it all, ESPN’s Buster Olney also suggested Alvarez could be headed back to the minors once everyone is healthy and ready for activation.

I’d like to blame this on a typically out-of-touch ESPN broadcast. But it’s something we’ve been listening to all week now. And is absolutely unacceptable.

Alvarez’s potential has always been there, and he’s finally putting it all together. Why the hell would you send him back to Triple-A when he’s playing every day in the big leagues… and helping the club win?!

Remember that game-tying three-run homer he hit against the Tampa Bay Rays? He did that out of the ninth spot of the lineup. Do we really think Tomas Nido can provide that for the Mets upon his return? This is just getting ridiculous.

If I were tasked with making decisions for New York, this is what I’d do.

Michael Perez can stay in Triple-A, which is the easiest call of all. When Narvaez is ready, put him back on the 26-man roster and make him Alvarez’s backup. If Sanchez proves to be a net positive, keep him as a primary DH and cut someone else loose, like Daniel Vogelbach or Tommy Pham. (I know that wouldn’t help the Mets’ defensive versatility in the outfield, but whatever.) As Nido continues his rehab assignment, I’d start getting on the phone to find a trade partner. If it doesn’t work out, DFA him when he’s ready to come back.

I can understand why the front office views this as a difficult situation. They like Narvaez, and more specifically, Nido, for various reasons. But you gave Alvarez this chance in the big leagues to prove himself, and he’s done that. Don’t send him back to Syracuse simply because he has options.

The Mets are built to win now, and Alvarez (along with the rest of the Baby Mets) is best suited to help with that, regardless of what Andy Martino thinks.

You can reach Matt Musico at You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.