Who remembers John Milton Rivers?
You know, that speedy center fielder that used to run funny and played for the Yankees during their 1977 and 1978 championship years?
I guess you probably know him better by his baseball name, Mickey…
Last week, I had an interesting debate with the executive producer of SNY, when I asked him why two of his blogs posted that Daniel Huchingson was suspended for 50 games.
“It’s his given name.”
I thought that was funny being everyone else in the universe including himself and his mom refer to him as Chase Huchingson.
“Wouldn’t it be better to use his baseball name rather than his given name,” I asked?
“It doesn’t matter”, he retorted.
“By the way, what did you think of Richard’s press conference this afternoon?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I was using his given name. I’m talking about Sandy.”
Ain’t I a stinker?
Getting back to Mickey Rivers, I loved this quote he once said about playing center field.
“The first thing you do when you get out to center field is put up your finger and check the wind chill factor.”
I wonder if Juan Lagares does that?
FUTURE 20+ HOMER GUY?
Last week, I was happy to see the response Bobby Ojeda gave to the following question…
Which Met player do you expect to improve their game the most in 2014?
“Juan Lagares. I think you’ll see much more power out of his at bats. I think that’s something this ballclub needs on a consistent basis.”
How many of you were a bit perturbed when Lagares was shifted over to right field to accommodate Matt den Dekker in center field this past weekend?
I know I was… So what does this amazing talent do?
YOU’RE OUT, PUNK….
Lagares now leads the National League with 12 outfield assists and is second in the majors, despite playing about 40 less games than everyone else in the top ten. His dozen assists also tied the franchise rookie record set by Tsuyoshi Shinjo in 2001. But enough about his Gold Glove defense, I want to talk about Lagares’ bat and that comment by Ojeda.
Going into yesterday’s embarrassing loss to the Braves, Lagares had hit in three straight games and in six of his last seven dating back to August 25. Over those seven games, he was batting .370 (10-27) with four runs scored, two doubles and two RBI.
When I saw him penciled into the number five spot in the lineup yesterday, I was kind of excited. Of course that spot is usually reserved for one of your team’s top sluggers and here was Lagares getting a chance to do some damage and drive in some runs. He went 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and He’s now batting .364 over his last ten games and even drew four walks to shut-up the folks on twitter who even now still complain about his lack of walks and aggressiveness. There’s just no pleasing some Met fans…
In 45 games since the All Star break, the 24-year old whiz-kid is batting .301 with a .448 slugging and .799 OPS. Among his 49 hits he has stroked nine doubles, three triples and three home runs while driving in 17 and scoring 19 runs. He has transformed himself at the plate and drives the ball with authority.
I love watching him come to the plate with two outs. He has this thing about never wanting to make the last out and in 99 at-bats he’s slashing at a .303/.361/.465 clip and an .816 OPS. We could use a few more players with this mindset…
We hear the term 5-tool player thrown around all the time, but for the most part those players never deliver on that promise. In Juan Lagares we have someone who is exhibiting all the hallmarks of those five tools scouts look for and the best part is that he plays for the Mets. He’s all ours and is having one of the best rookie seasons in the game.
Currently, only Carlos Gomez and Andrew McCutchen have a higher WAR than the 3.6 Lagares has among centerfielders. And among rookies that ranks third as well behind Yasiel Puig and Nolan Arenado. I would argue that if Terry Collins had used his noodle and didn’t waste so many at-bats on Rick Ankiel, Collin Cowgill and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lagares could have a WAR that would be close to or even surpass 5.0. Wow… That is David Wright terrain…
So what’s my point about all of this?
Just wanted to say that I am really excited about a lot of things for the Mets in 2014, and I can’t wait to see what Juan Lagares does for an encore next season.
Now I’m not saying we’re gonna go out and win a Wild Card next season, that has more to do with what Richard, I mean Sandy, does this offseason. But if he really wants to field a contender – a real contender – he has plenty of money to do it and plenty of trade chips to swap along with a core of great young pitching and hitting to build around. Now it’s time to fill in the gaps…
This offseason is all on him and it’s time for Sandy to finally put up or shut up…