In recent Memory Right field has been a position that the Mets have been searching to solidify, but continue to come up empty. Guys towards the end of their careers such as Shawn Green, Derek Bell, Gary Sheffield and Jeromy Burnitz have manned the position over the last decade. Also during that time the Mets have tried their hand at some younger players such as Jeff Francoeur, Ryan Church and Roger Cedeno.
The Position has been a revolving door since Darryl Strawberry exited stage right in 1990. A lot of memories come to mind when I think of Right Field, most of them with odd twists to them. I remember the switch of Gold Glover Mike Cameron from center to right makeing room for Carlos Beltran, which resulted in a face to face collision. I also think about every time someone takes over the spot in right, how they mysteriously lose their stroke like Bobby Bonilla and Jeromy Burnitz. Or how they are hit with some freak injury like Ryan Church’s concussion. Xavier Nady comes to mind as he had to be traded during a very good season, when setup man Duaner Sanchez was injured in a car accident at 2AM and was lost for the season. Then there are young up and coming PROSPECTS who like most Mets minor leaguers never lived up to expectations once they were penciled in Right field. Guys like Alex Ochoa, Victor Diaz and Lasting Milledge were young promising players who seemed to fall prey to the curse.
Darryl Strawberry’s last season as the Mets opening day right fielder was in 1990. Entering 2011, 21 seasons later The Mets have had 14 different players start in right on opening day. Players such as Karim Garcia (“who is Karim Garcia” ~ Pedro Martinez), Butch Huskey, Carl Everett and Eric Valent to name a few.
The 2011 season was no different. Former star Center fielder Beltran was the newly appointed right fielder on opening day, and was patrolled out there until he was traded to San Francisco at the trading deadline. After he was traded Lucas Duda stepped in and began to rake almost imediatley. I can’t seem to decide whether it is just bad luck, poor scouting or just really bad decision makers filling this position year after year. If I had to lean towards one of those it would probably be the decision makers. Going by the list of players that have played right over the years, most of them have been journeyman or players nearing the end of their careers. A lot of times the players become fan favorites because they are overachieving, but are never good enough to stick around. Other times they are just aging and unproductive or too young and inexperienced.
What is clear is that the Mets have not had an All-Star right fielder in over twenty years. Not to mention since Darryl left, they have not had a player start in right more than two years in a row. The corner outfield spots are supposed to be positions that provide power, something the Mets have lacked in right more often than not. For Whatever reason there seems to be a black hole in right field. I just hope that as we embark on a new decade, this new regime can bring some stability to the position that has been looking for it for 21 seasons.