As Joe detailed, Jason Bay’s injury could be a concern for the Mets for longer than just the beginning of the season. Rib injuries tend to linger and this could affect Bay all year.
If Bay does start the year on the disabled list then the question because who takes his roster spot and who starts in left field. The roster spot will likely be given to Lucas Duda if the team feels confident that he can start in left. If the team decides to start Scott Hairston, then Duda may remain in the minors.
One of the questions surrounding Duda is what his production level would be if he were to have an extended stay in the majors. Right now, the ZiPS projections for Duda for the 2011 season are a .243/.323/.408 triple-slash line with 16 home runs and 70 RBI. This would certainly be acceptable. If Bay on the disabled list for an extended period of time, then Duda has the potential to earn a spot on the Mets roster for the rest of the year.
This obviously would be dependent on Duda’s production level. If Duda struggles, he will be sent down once Bay returns. If Duda is able to show that he can be an everyday major league player, then the Mets have a decision to make once Bay returns.
A successful campaign by Lucas Duda during the course of Jason Bay’s injury will likely lead to one of three different scenarios playing out. The first scenario would be that the Mets decide to cut Scott Hairston and let Duda be the fourth outfielder. The second scenario is that the Mets could just send Duda back down to the minors so he plays everyday.
The final scenario would only play out if Bay were to be on and off the disabled list for a few months and the Mets are struggling. The Mets could make the decision to move Carlos Beltran to open up a spot in right field for Duda.
With all of the uncertainty surrounding Jason Bay’s injury, Lucas Duda has a great opportunity to prove to the Mets that he should be an everyday player.