Mets’ Outfield Remains Muddled

An article by posted on March 1, 2013

kirk nieuwenhuis strikes outAfter a handful of games, this much is certain about the Mets’ porous outfield situation: Nothing has been settled.

We know Lucas Duda is expected to play left field, but center field and right field are open. Wide open, it seems.

Going into spring training, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill were penciled in as a platoon in center, while veteran Marlon Byrd and Mike Baxter were going to be a right field platoon.

“The outfield is definitely a question mark, collectively,’’ Sandy Alderson said. “I think we’ve liked what we’ve seen from Cowgill. I don’t think that (Andrew) Brown and (Jamie) Hoffman have had much of an opportunity to play at this point.

“Nieuwenhuis, (Matt) den Dekker, still have some work to do offensively. Marlon Byrd is what he is (which hardly qualifies as an endorsement. Mike Baxter is certainly in that mix- expect him to be on that team.’’

Nieuwenhuis if off to a horrible 0-for-12 start with six strikeouts, and both Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin have outperformed him offensively. Nieuwenhuis was given the first opportunity to with the leadoff spot because of his speed, but he’s shown nothing in that regard. Last night, he batted fifth.

Den Dekker has a great glove, but Jim Edmonds comparisons quickly end when his bat is mentioned.

“The classic outfield offensive player, we don’t have at this point,’’ Alderson conceded.

The outfielder with the greatest potential upside offensively is Duda, but he struck out six times in his first seven at-bats this spring. So far, Alderson isn’t concerned about Duda, despite striking out 120 times last season.

“We think Lucas Duda, offensively, is going to be fine,’’ Alderson said. “His defense is a question mark. The balance there is difficult to maintain. He really has to produce offensively.’’

Alderson said he can live with the strikeouts if the on-base percentage and run production numbers are high. Bluntly put, 15 homers won’t cut it. For Duda to be worth his strikeouts, and remember, he didn’t play a full season, he’ll need to approach 30 homers with 100 RBI.

Valdespin entered spring training with the Mets unhappy about his attitude, but he’s off to a good start. He’s been getting reps at second – in anticipation of Daniel Murphy not being ready – but will get time in the outfield. If he sticks, it could be at the expense of Nieuwenhuis.

“Center and Right, we have to see,’’ Alderson said. “I wouldn’t eliminate Valdespin as a potential outfield candidate either, that’s how open things are.’’

About the Author ()

I am an active member of the BBWAA and have covered Major League Baseball in several capacities for over 25 years, including 15 in New York working the Mets' and Yankees' beat. I covered the Baltimore Orioles for eight years and the Cleveland Indians before that. Today I am a freelance writer and social director for several media outlets and a Senior Editor for MetsmerizedOnline.com.

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