NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- If the Mets' offense is to improve from last season, general manager Sandy Alderson said, it is going to have to be from within. The Mets may go the rest of the winter without adding another big league hitter, even on the bench. So much of the burden will fall to those who did not produce this past season.
Chief among that group is catcher Travis d'Arnaud, a former blue-chip prospect who hit just .247 with a .629 OPS in 75 games. Injuries did not help, as d'Arnaud lost nearly two months to a right shoulder sprain. But even when healthy, he simply did not produce, losing playing time to career backup Rene Rivera. That Rivera started the win-or-go-home National League Wild Card Game spoke volumes about how far d'Arnaud had fallen.
"Everybody, since we got him, talked about his offensive potential," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I think the offense got to be his main focus, and we've got to get him back on track on both sides of the ball."
Rather than abandon d'Arnaud and turn to a pricey free agent such as Matt Wieters or Rays signee Wilson Ramos, the Mets are taking an alternate route this offseason. They hired a new third-base coach, Glenn Sherlock, who specializes in catching. Already, d'Arnaud has spent time working with Sherlock in Arizona.
"I've talked to a number of people around him and I have yet to hear anything bad," Collins said of Sherlock. "He's a tremendous coach. People relate to him. I liked his theories on catching, what he had to say about getting guys to get a better release, get in better positions. I think he's going to be a good addition."
The idea is that if d'Arnaud can improve defensively, it will allow him to focus more fully on the offensive struggles that have consumed him. The 37th overall pick in the 2007 Draft, d'Arnaud has hit only .245 as a big leaguer. But he has shown flashes of excellence, most notably swatting eight home runs over his final 42 games in 2015.
"If I had to be honest, I would say that much of his lack of performance [last year] was a loss of confidence," Alderson said. "And loss of confidence can come from a variety of sources. I think injury has to do with it, and then the interruption of playing time. Getting off to a poor start can have an impact. There are a lot of different things that can lead to it. It's not just one thing. I just think it was a general loss of confidence that was reflected in his offense. It was reflected in his defense. And I think that's something that can be restored."
That's where Sherlock comes in. That's where the Mets feel they can improve without doing another thing to their roster.
"As I've told you guys so many times, this game is about confidence," Collins said. "It's about believing in yourself. When you walk out there with talent and you believe in yourself, you get things done. When you start to struggle, and some doubt that creeps in there, you start having a tough time. Travis was there. And I think taking the winter, getting him back in healthy condition coming into Spring Training -- I know he's already worked with Glenn in Arizona working on his catching. So I think he's going to come in and I know he's bound and determined to have a better year."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.