On Tuesday, Sandy Alderson strongly suggested that Curtis Granderson would be the only outfielder assured of an everyday job to start the season. He also stated to us that newly acquired Chris Young was promised playing time although it wasn’t clear how many at-bats that meant or whether that playing time would come in right or center field.
During a conference call just before the Winter Meetings, Sandy also told us that Young would be competing for the center field job this Spring with Juan Lagares.
Eric Young Jr. was also brought up on Tuesday as the Mets’ leading candidate for the leadoff job. The team considered, but didn’t view Daniel Murphy as a strong leadoff candidate. Talking about Young’s speed, Alderson told us, “that speed does us no good on the bench.”
If Granderson and Young Jr. are to play significantly to begin the 2014 season, it does sound like Juan Lagares will be in the fight of his brief career to secure an everyday job in center – a move that could stunt his development.
Last season, when Terry Collins used Lagares mostly in a bench role, the 24-year old rookie struggled and was hitting .159 through his first 2 1/2 months in that role. When he was finally given some time to play everyday, Lagares seized the opportunity and raised his batting average almost 100 points before the season ended. The defensively gifted centerfielder batted .353/.428/.509 with 13 RBIs in July showing just what he could do when locked on.
Lagares ended the season with a .242/.281/.352 batting line in 359 at-bats during his first season in the bigs, while Chris Young played mostly in a platoon role with the Athletics and batted .200/.280/.379 in 335 at-bats. Lagares posted a 3.7 bWAR last season while Young came in with a 0.0 bWAR.
Sounds like it’s time for another MMO Roundtable…
Who should play everyday in center field to start the season…
Chris Young or Juan Lagares?
Peter K. – Juan Lagares is the center fielder, hands down. I think he is capable of a .270 BA and good contact while maintaining plus defense in center. I am encouraged that the Mets might have one of the best OF defense’s in MLB next year.
Tommy R. – Well, Lagares is the much better fielder, right? So if one is going to play center and the other will play left or right, give me Lagares in center.
Zack – Maybe I’m just biased from watching him make outstanding catches and cut down runner after runner, but I think the Mets really need to give Lagares every opportunity to develop into a productive, all-around everyday center fielder. If he becomes at least average with the stick, his defense is so incredible that he could be one of the more valuable players on the team.
Jessep – I’d say Lagares because Young isn’t going to cover as much ground as he did in 2010/2011 with Arizona. Lagares also would make Granderson better by covering more ground.
Barry – Depends on where the team is in the spring. Eric Young should not automatically be relegated to the bench. If he still fits in left field, just let everyone fight for jobs in the lineup. If Lagares isn’t going to start in center, you could send him down, although if the Mets find their best defensive alignment has Chris Yong in center and Lagares in right, that wouldn’t necessarily be bad. That’s what spring training is for.
John G. – Make it an old school position battle and have both guys prove that they belong in that spot moving forward. You would have to think with the dollar amount Chris Young received he is the favorite to play there but stranger things have/can/will happen. It is going to be an interesting spring.
TexasGus – Lagares. Few center fielders give you the confidence that any fly ball can be caught.
Joe S. – This is tough because Lagares is clearly an outstanding defensive outfielder but his offense is questionable. Chris Young can provide more offense and decent defense. I look at Young as a version of Mike Cameron with slightly less defensive ability. The upside for Young tips in his favor because of his power potential. Lagares is still an unknown at this point at least offensively. I would go with Young for now.
Matthew B. – Lagares, by a country mile. That kid was born to play CF in Flushing.
Andrew – Juan Lagares should be in center field. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Gerry – Lagares belongs in center. The outfield defense should be outstanding.
Big Mets Fan – Juan Lagares. The man is a human vacuum in center. His bat will improve in his second year.
Jim M. – Lagares definitely deserves the chance to start CF after all his assists and solid play last year.
Xtreem – I’m assuming you mean right now, as the season begins. The answer to that is Lagares, and there’s no reason or excuse why he shouldn’t be. Simple as that. Should he get 150 PAs and hit like a pitcher, then you make a decision. But right now it’s his job.
Jacob R. – Lagares easily. I don’t see the problem of playing Chris Young in right field. Lagares’ defense is too great to take away the starting job.
Tom W. – Ha! Lagares. If they do anything to block this budding young talent, the entire front office should be immediately fired.
14 – Juan Lagares
2 – Undecided
1 – Chris Young