Most baseball pundits cast off the Mets’ outfield as being the worst in the league heading into the season.
On paper, maybe that is correct, but based on performance, the Mets outfield hasn’t been all that bad.
Lucas Duda has looked good offensively, Marlon Byrd has had some big hits, Mike Baxter gives all-out effort every time he’s on the field, and Jordany Valdespin proved last night what a great asset he is to the ball club.
So Juan Lagares was called up to replace Kirk. But the timing of it all is somewhat strange.
Lagares was hitting .346 in Las Vegas so a call-up was certainly warranted. But where does he fit on the big league roster at this point?
Duda is entrenched in left field. That’s a given. In right, Byrd hasn’t exactly played himself out of the batting order, and again Baxter – as exhibited by his key hustle double last night – produces when given the chance.
Center field has been the revolving door, but Valdespin has shown that he could be productive if given the chance. Cowgill might be in a cold spell, but he could very well regain his hot form from spring training.
The thing that confuses me is that Lagares should not be in the Majors unless he’s playing every day. He’s said to be a great defensive center fielder – which is of course important – but he needs to consistently be put up against top-notch pitching.
If Terry Collins is insistent on trying to get Cowgill regular at-bats, then Lagares should still be in Vegas. And throw Valdespin in the mix, and who knows what’s going on in center?
Even a platoon situation with Lagares and Valdespin would not do the kid much good. If he ever plans on being a regular, he’ll need to face both righties and lefties.
Here’s a potential scenario, that I hope does not play, out but could be an option. If Ike Davis continues his abysmal stretch, the Mets may consider sending him down to Vegas to find himself. Duda then moves to first, and Valdespin can play left with Lagares in center.
We learned last season that even after a slow start, Davis can turn it on in a big way. His second half last year has basically earned him a free pass to struggle early on this year. But if he doesn’t find his stroke like he did last season, maybe a change would do him good.
Again though, let’s hope Davis finds his stroke.
Right now, let Valdespin play; he’s an electric talent. Everyone keeps saying that he’s so raw, but the only way to get more refined is to constantly be in the lineup.
Not many players can say they are not in the starting lineup the day after hitting a walk-off grand slam. Sure, the Mets are facing a lefty, but again, you have to give Valdespin the exposure.
Same goes for Lagares. If Collins can find him regular at-bats, that’s one thing. But if Cowgill is getting the start over him, then he should be playing every day in Vegas.
Maybe I haven’t given this enough time to properly play out, but there’s no point in having a prospect sit on the bench in the Majors when he could be refining his game every day in the minors.