Why Is Duda Playing The Outfield Instead Of First Base During His Rehab?
Lucas Duda has moved into the third and final stage of his rehab from a strained intercostal muscle. He appeared as a pinch hitter in last night’s 5-2 win over the Memphis Cardinals, walking in his only plate appearance. Judging by how he’s performed thus far in the Gulf Coast League and Florida State League, he may be with Ruben Tejada in Triple-A for an extended period of time. It also helps that the big league outfield is performing just fine with the likes of Eric Young, Jr., Juan Lagares, and Marlon Byrd.
In 11 games and 41 at-bats between the GCL and FSL, Duda has only collected seven hits and five walks, while striking out 15 times. That includes a big goose egg in 13 GCL at-bats, which didn’t sit well with Mets fans upon the news of him moving on to High-A with St. Lucie.
I’ve been in favor of major leaguers spending time in the minors to get in a groove at the plate following an injury, and earning their way back to the majors. It shows them that nothing should be taken for granted. However, I don’t think Duda should be continuing to play the outfield in Las Vegas, like he has at his other rehab stops.
Moving forward, the biggest question for the Mets (outside of who is going to play shortstop) is who will play first base. Will it be Duda, Ike Davis, or someone else? The outfield picture has cleared up a bit; Lagares is emerging as a potential solution, as is Young. With Cesar Puello coming back from his suspension next season, Sandy Alderson needs to acquire more than one outfielder this off-season.
With that situation becoming more clear, that leaves Duda on the outside looking in for a spot in the outfield. His natural position is first base, and when he played that position in the majors following Ike’s demotion, he performed pretty well. So, why not have an open audition between the two in September? They both know their futures in the organization are hanging in the balance, mostly depending on their performance through the remainder of the season.
I say light another fire under each of them and have them split time at first base next month. The Mets need to make a decision on which player should be a part of their future, so put them up against each other, and see who rises to the occasion.
Thoughts from Joe D.
Nice basis for a debate, Matt. This organization has been trying to fit round pegs into square holes for as far back as I can remember. And this ol’ Met fan can remember a lot.
As you stated, at least for the remainder of this season, Duda would be a third wheel err fourth wheel in the current outfield configuration. As for moving forward, Juan Lagares is the only keeper as far as an everyday job goes for next season. Young can stay on, but not as an everyday player. As I mentioned in a previous post, he has already begun receding to his career norms and is batting around .195 since the All Star break. I have no problem with him as a fourth outfielder, but let’s stop making it sound like this waiver wire pickup that cost us Collin McHugh is anything more than a utility outfielder with great speed. An Endy Chavez if you will…
We need at least one power bat in the outfield and hopefully that’s a top priority for Sandy this offseason. Although I shudder to think it was his top priority last offseason as well. Luckily, after all the big chips were gone, he got lucky on Marlon Byrd – who may or may not return next season depending on his price.
Puello is the next big offensive thing now that Flores is already here, and one of those corner outfield spots will be commandeered by him for the next 6-7 years if all goes as expected.
So what the hell is Duda doing playing the outfield? Who needs him in the outfield muffing things up?
Look, from what I know and what I’ve heard, nobody is this front office is high on Duda. He plays mostly because there’s a chance can show some power that another team might want to take a chance on. I mean come on folks, Alderson went on WFAN and told the world that he did not view Duda as a core player. What does that tell you?
Let him play some first base and showcase him at his natural position, because watching him make an adventure out of every ball hit to him in left or right field will not enhance his value, it will kill it.
About the Author: Matt Musico
Matt is a 26-year-old college admissions counselor that loves talking baseball, and the New York Mets. He's been fortunate enough to have many relationships with sports; he played baseball through college and was invited to a professional tryout, and has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Sport Management. Matt is a freelance New York Mets contributor for Yahoo! Sports, and is the owner of On The Way Home, his personal MLB blog. You can follow him on Twitter @mmusico8
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