From Left Field: Duda Vs. F-Mart?
Surprise, surprise. Carlos Beltran is hurt once again.
After he resumes baseball activities sometime in the next few days, who knows how long it will take our new right fielder to get in baseball shape?
While part of me was hoping Beltran would finally return to the field healthy and productive, the other part of me knew it was probably too good to be true.
If Beltran is out for an extended period of time, the Mets are going to need a permanent solution to fill the void in right field and in their lineup. Already, there appear to be several candidates the Mets could consider.
I will present a few options and weigh the pros and cons of each decision.
I’ve heard that a possible platoon between Scott Hairston and Willie Harris could occur.
Hairston has some pop from the right side and has played adequate defense his entire career. He obviously won’t be the offensive force that a healthy Beltran could be, but he would do a nice job filling in.
Harris is a superb defender, as Met fans have witnessed countless times especially late in games. He also has hit well this spring and still has good speed.
These two players certainly have experience, but they could also be valuable members of the bench. Their value to the team would be in more of a limited role, since that’s what they’ve done for most of their careers.
I might as well throw Nick Evans’ name into the conversation. Evans has been mostly playing the corner infield spots during spring training but now might see some time in the outfield.
Evans is raking so far this spring and is making a bid to make the team, even if just as a bat off the bench.
However, his defense in the outfield is suspect, and it would be an adventure for him at Citi Field. Still, if Hairston and Harris see the bulk of the time, Evans may be needed on the bench.
If Beltran were to be out more than a month or two, it might be a wise decision for the Mets to promote one of their outfield prospects. Kirk Nieuwenheis and Cory Vaughn may need some more seasoning in the minors, so that leaves Lucas Duda and Fernando Martinez as the most major league ready prospects.
Duda has been hitting well this spring and with extended time could put up big numbers: maybe not healthy Beltran numbers but still productive in the middle of the order.
He actually looked decent at times in left field late last season, but once again right field at Citi Field is challenging. With lots of work, Duda could become an adequate right fielder, but the question is whether the Mets have that kind of time?
Now onto F-Mart. He’s also been swinging the bat very well this spring. He’s young, he can run, he’s got some pop, he has a good arm. What’s not to like?
The problem is that F-Mart has had a chance to prove what he can do in extended play in the majors, and he flopped.
However, that doesn’t mean that he would flop again. The Mets are content with having him play a full season in the minors before handing over the reins (or even exploring a trade option).
With Beltran out though, I wonder if the Mets decide that F-Mart is ready.
In the best case scenario, Beltran’s knee tendinitis doesn’t prove to be a major problem, and he returns healthy in a week or two.
If that’s not the case, my pick for the Mets’ right fielder would be Lucas Duda, but also with Scott Hairston getting regular at-bats as well. Maybe it wouldn’t be quite a platoon, but Duda could play four games a week and Hairston would play the other two.
We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks, but if one of these prospects starts impressing, the name “Carlos Beltran” could be quickly forgotten in New York.
Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.
About the Author: Jim Mancari
Jim Mancari hails from Massapequa, N.Y. He recently earned a Master's degree in Journalism at Hofstra University. He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets fans, Jim has plenty of hope. He also writes as the sports reporter for the Brooklyn Tablet newspaper and the senior editor of metroBASEBALL Magazine. Click my name to view my personal website.
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