MMO Morning Grind: Juan!!!

USATSI  juan lagares

Good morning, Mets fans!

Great win last night. Juan Lagares is on my mind after getting the game-winning hit to help us beat the Braves, so let’s talk about him, and see if I can get through this entire article without making Juan single pun. Wait, never mind.

During the offseason and throughout spring training, the entire Mets community was abuzz with a raging debate in the outfield: Eric Young or Juan Lagares?

Juan Lagares has shown us from the start that he is one of the best defensive players in all of baseball. He has a cannon, good speed, a knack for reading the ball, and the ability to make incredibly acrobatic catches look easy (see my artistic rendering below of his amazing play from Wednesday night’s game).

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

However, Lagares wasn’t too good with the bat in his rookie campaign. For that reason, a lot of people in the organization were leaning towards giving Eric Young the 3rd spot in the outfield.

To me, the debate, “Young vs. Lagares, Bat vs. Glove”, was always based on a false premise. Why? Because in 2013, Eric Young wasn’t a very good hitter either. The second-baseman-turned-outfielder hit .251 after being traded to the Mets in June. As for speed? Yes, Eric is very fast, but Lagares is no slouch on the bases himself.

I’ve always thought Lagares was the better player. Fortunately, Juan was given the starting job in center field and hasn’t looked back. Lagares a clutch home run on Opening Day, and in our first 9 games, the 25 year-old Dominican outfielder is hitting .303 and has knocked in 6 runs. The glove has been great, but that was to be expected. It is the bat of Juan Lagares that has been the most pleasant surprise of the season’s opening stretch.

However, Eric Young definitely has a few things to bring to the table as well. Due to the injury to Chris Young, the Mets have been able to use both Eric and Juan for the first couple weeks of the season. If Chris returns soon, and stays healthy, the Mets will be faced with a choice. Curtis Granderson will not be heading to the bench, and Juan Lagares has been too good so far for Terry Collins to remove him from the lineup. Chris Young will probably be given a chance to take the job from Eric, and if he can hit like he did in the spring, the job should be his.

The Mets have a young, gold-glove caliber player in the outfield who has shown that he might be able to do some damage with his bat. After months of debate, Juan Lagares looks like the J— the one who belongs in center.

Enjoy your day, Mets fans. Get ready to stay up late to watch us play the Angels on the West Coast tonight. I hear they have a pretty good center fielder, too…

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About Tommy Rothman 180 Articles
Tommy Rothman is a 20 year-old sportswriter who is the owner and founder of the popular Knicks News & Comedy Blog: "New York Knicks Memes." Tommy has also been an avid Mets fan since the age of 5 and joined MetsMerized in the summer of 2013. Tommy is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania and a sports editor for the student newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian. You can follow Tommy on Twitter @KnicksMemes
  • MyasDaddy

    There is not many things to be happy about. The ownership, the manager etc. However, seeing Juan Lagares everyday brings a smile to my face. Just waiting to see how the Mets somehow screw this up.

  • oleosmirf

    Those like myself who were skeptical about Juan’s ability to hit at the ML level simply wanted him show improvement in 2014 before handing him the job.

    Well Lagares went to the Dominican this winter and hit
    Lagares went to Port St. Lucie and hit
    And now Juan is currently the Mets best hitter after the first 9 games.

    All this while maintaining his GG caliber defense.

    I think it’s safe to say that he has earned the starting CF job and unless he absolutely tanks going forward, he will play everyday.

  • Dark HelMet

    There’s plenty to be happy about.

  • Sunshine

    I agree. I had my doubts as well, and while 9 games doesn’t remove my doubts completely, I do think he will hit ENOUGH to stay as the Mets top option in CF for most of the season. I believe he should be given a long leash and given time to work through struggles and make adjustments; just like we would do with a young pitcher. They really NEED to find out EXACTLY what they have in Lagares. He needs to get every opportunity.

  • agetting

    How about Jose abreu another 2 homers lAst night

  • Big Daddy D

    When Chris Young comes back they should experiment with Murphy at 1B and EYJ at 2B.
    1.EYJ -2B
    2.Lagares CF
    3.Wright 3B
    4.Murphy 1B
    5.Granderson RF
    6.C.Young LF
    7.d’Arnaud
    8.Tejada SS
    This of course is because I’m tired of the 3 stooges game between Ike, Duda and satin.

  • agetting

    Agreed

  • Big Daddy D

    If they can get two things going in this scenario it would be great: d’Arnaud hitting and Flores on the major league level.

  • Nolrog

    Yeah, but he wanted money.

  • Taskmaster4450

    Why is anyone surprised about Juan’s bat?

    Learn from history. Juan is a guy who improved at each level since 2010. His last few years in the minors showed the ability to adjust. As for his rookie campaign, many point to the .240 BA. As for me, I prefer to look at the fact that he hit .260 after becoming a starter. Few rookies are going to thrive when getting an AB here and there while being buried on the bench. Lagares was no exception. Once starting, he came out hitting until the league caught up to him (which they always do…be mindful all you Abreau fans). After that, he struggled which brought him to the point of having to adjust again to what the pitchers were doing. This is in Juan’s makeup.

    So, why all the questioning about his ability to hit. He hit in the minors since 2010 (I dont put much stock in year prior to that since he was in lower ball). He hit when he was given the starting job. He hit in Winter Ball prior to getting injured. He hit in ST.

    Am I the only one who saw a trend there?

  • agetting

    Yeah but so did granderson and they paid him way more money per year

  • RyanF55

    I love watching this kid play. Thank GOD that CY went to the disabled list so Terry wasn’t afforded the opportunity to screw this up. Lagares has been exciting to watch every game and his approach at the plate has been great. I really hopes he’s a guy that ends up with this team for a long time.

  • RyanF55

    He may win the platinum glove out there.

  • willywater88

    Tommy – I know I speak for many when I say thank you for putting out these articles for us to look forward to in the mornings. What else would I be doing at work?

    As for Juan vs EYJ, I think there is room for both. And to expand that to include CG and CY, I think a 4 man rotation in the OF would serve the Mets well. They all have different skill sets and matchup advantages they can bring to the club, I don’t see any reason why we can’t maximize this.

    If the Dodgers can rotate Crawford, Ethier, Kemp & Puig, we can surely do the same for this quartet.

  • guest

    Explain

  • willywater88

    1000% agree. As of February, I viewed Juan as a player that has earned a part time job on the team, not necessarily a starting job. As of April, he continues to impress and should get the majority of starts.

  • QueensRussell

    He is special, and I don’t think you could ask for a greater defensive replacement for CB. Now that he is really starting to hit…exciting!

  • MLBGM Fire TC

    Totally agree, but somehow i dont think our brain trust will come up with such a good idea

  • willywater88

    Personally, I was cautious. I viewed him as a fringe prospect that was solid in the minors but he never had any exceptional numbers. Not for average, OBP or power.

    There are more cases of prospects that hit at all levels in the minors and fail to make that final adjustment to the big leagues than those who continue to see success in the majors.

  • Dave_in_Spain

    Mets are 1 game under .500 despite facing a tough schedule, and despite Wright and Grandy not hitting. The starters have been decent or better, and the pen has been lights out after a horrible first 3 games. They´ve been getting offense from unexpected places. Tejada is playing better than most expected. Lagares is playing great. EYjr had 3 hits and 3SB last night and ignited the offense.

  • E1Guapo

    Don’t forget that EY can also fill in for Murph on occasion to keep him fresh. EY is still our fourth outfielder but gets plenty of reps between subbing at both spots. Problemo solvdo

  • metstastic

    Granderson is more of a known quantity. On a team with no offense, you need some more known quantities.

  • metstastic

    What they should do is rotate EYj with CY, Lagares and Murphy. That should give him plenty of AB.

  • dealingwithidiots

    I’m happy that the team I root for just won the last two series against highly touted teams.

  • mets2014

    and I think this is the most likely scenario…it may sound stupid, but I think the worst part of CY’s return will be the likely demotion of Andrew brown who I think is a very good RH power bat off the bench…I like having recker, brown and davis or duda coming off the bench late in the game where a bloop and a blast could win it

  • Dave Rosenbluth

    Lagares is showing progress for sure and I don’t want to put a damper on it, but he was 0-4 before the hit and in some of the at bats he showed last years propensity to swing at just about anything. It is a work in progress but for me, it is one I am willing to live with.

  • Mets Fan in Paris

    I agree with what you’re saying, but we all know it doesn’t work out this way for every player…ie…TdA. Let’s hope he can relax and start hitting to his potential as well. LGM!

  • agetting

    He hit .229 last year and .232 the year before. Real known quantity. I disagree with you. That doesn’t make it a better signing at all, regardless of our offense. For a matter of risk/reward…Abreu was a much better signing

  • AJF

    No matter how good Lagares plays Terry is still the manager and will still bench him because Eric Young JR can steal a base

  • Fast Eddie

    Lagares’ improvement at the plate is largely the result of his becoming more selective as to pitches he will swing at. He swings much less frequently at offerings that sail well outside the strike zone or bounce on the plate. Juan still has trouble catching up with 94 mph fastballs, but there are a ton of MLBers who have that particular problem.

    Lagares can turn on a mediocre fastball that arrives on the inside corner (his first-game HR), but his real strength is in handling pitches on the outside corner, as he did last night to drive in the GWRBI.

    That said, I hope when CY returns Terry will give Lagares an occasional day off, especially when there is a tough right-hander on the mound for the opposition. Let’s not burn the kid out, TC.

    Veloz

  • jason bay

    That is ridiculous.

  • jason bay

    Tell me about it.

  • jason bay

    Pretty sure that was the plan all along.

  • metstastic

    He wasn’t signed for his BA. He was signed for his power. 25+ HR is what we should expect from him.

  • jason bay

    That’s why the comment sections will be very light today with the Negative Nellies, Chicken Littles and Little Red Riding Hoods having to find something else to be negative about.

  • shouldaswung

    Don’t forget EYJ’s most important contribution…FOUR runs!

  • agetting

    going from Yankee stadium to Citi Field

  • shouldaswung

    More like because CY can hit a few HR..

  • I totally agree. If you let him sub for Left and 2nd Base, plus pinch run, he has a good role on this team. Think about how Duda seems to be able to get on base. If they’re playing for one run, you put EYjr in to pinch run (then put Ike in for defense).

  • It’s funny that you say “so that Terry couldn’t screw it up”. I’ve hoped for injuries more than a few times to take decisions out of that moron’s hands.

  • I’ve been saying that all winter/spring.
    When he was brought up last year, even Sandy said he was NOT ready, but they needed a body. So what did he do? He struggled. When he got comfortable, he picked it up a bit.
    This guy is going to be a very good player that snuck past a bunch of prognosticators.

  • “brain trust” that’s funny. No brains and you can’t trust them.

  • KennyandtheMets

    I love the fact that Lagares bounced back after the bad strike out earlier. He isn’t just hitting. He is hitting in the clutch. HUGE!!

  • Alex68

    Wow… something negative to right about!? did you see how the recap went last night!? despite having ONE good game where everyone forgot how terrible EY has been everyone was joyful and happy, you call it negativity because YOUR lord sandy alderson has failed miserably and we call him out for it so you don’t like that, but that doesn’t mean we hate the team, sandy alderson will one day be gone, i wonder who you gonna root for when he does.

  • Alex68

    Seems abreu will get more than that…. i know it’s early, but that kid has RAW power.

  • CJM

    Love what Juan’s doing so far this season. I think the hot start has affected him a little at the plate, though. He’s starting to go outside the zone and take bad hacks. He needs to be patient and keep hitting strikes to right field.

  • Raider 1

    Lagares has been the Mets best player on O & D so far this yr hands down – don’t screw it up Collins!

  • sperry

    I just can’t believe Lagares vs. EYJ was ever seriously considered by this FO

  • willywater88

    I agree that Brown is a great fit for the bench and he would certainly appreciate that role more than others but having one of EYJ, Lagares, CG or CY off the bench for any role would be just as useful.

  • shouldaswung

    Why, because Lagares got off to a hot start and EYJ didn’t? Personally, I can’t believe that Chris Young was brought in to play CF.

  • oleosmirf

    The thing is that trend occurs for pretty much every player ever promoted to the majors.

  • RyanF55

    It’s sad but true. If CY, was healthy, knowing Terry, it would be EY in LF, CY in CF and Granderson in RF. Let’s just hope Lagares keeps this up so there’s no way he isn’t starting every single day.

  • oleosmirf

    But the Mets didn’t have a cheap in-house “solution” with the potential to be a 30 HR guy.

    They were never going to get rid of both Ike and Duda, plus spend that kind of money on an unknown.

    The Wilpons are not in the position to spend the little money they have on an unknown, no matter how promising Abreu was coming in.

    You just have to accept that…

  • TPT

    Lagares is SPECIAL im still scratching my head as to why SA spent 7.5 million precious Met dollars on another outfielder when that would of gone a long way towards securing a everyday first baseman and avoided this merry go round we have at first base….

  • Bob Whistle

    Maybe I’m nitpicking here, but in situations that do not immediately call for a particular type of approach, i.e. a man on third with less than two out, or two outs with a runner in scoring position, he’s not putting together great at bats. His swing seems a little long and slow, like he’s trying to hit it out in any situation where a particular approach is not called for.

    I’m nitpicking, but if King Lagares starts transposing his approach in more difficult situations into all his at bats, he could become something really special. His 1-5 days with a big hit could turn into 3-5 days with a few runs scored and the big hit.

  • Alex68

    We can sit here and say we could’ve signed this player or that player… thing is, it wouldn’t be second guessing if we mention a SS and/or a 1B because he himself said that SS and 1B were a priority this offseason, yet he ended up signing Colon and CY, not sure why though

  • agetting

    I don’t agree with you. The Wilpons can spend money however they wanted to and I’m sure they thought long and hard of the best way to utilize their funds. Making a play on Abreu was a risk-reward play. I’m sure they measured the pros and cons very thoroughly. The rewards were so much higher than the risk, especially considering Granderson himself is no sure thing. IMO the rewards with Abreu are so much higher than Granderson. If the Mets had signed him and he had already 4 homers like he does with the Sox and the Mets were 5-4 right now instead of 4-5 things would be looking that much brighter…fans would be showing up

  • agetting

    because the Mets NEEDED a 1bman and a SS more than any other position by a longshot

  • mad met

    I would rather see him fill in for grandy not juan

  • mad met

    160-180 k’s is a lot of quaunities

  • metsman

    It’s a good thing Brian McCann isn’t still on the braves, he might have tried to fight Lagares for clapping his hands on the way to first after knocking in the go ahead run.

  • MetsWatchman

    One thing that’s been pretty consistent through the years is that the organization is a mess when it comes to managing money. Every FO since the Wilpons gained sole ownership has notoriously been horrible when it came to investing in ball players. Phillips, Duquette, Minaya and now Alderson. Very few of the contracts given ever really gave the team high returns. Even during the spending years, it was always the same thing…..player turned out injury prone, contract length exceeded the years of production, or the player just turned out to be an outright bust. Now Alderson leaves us scratching our heads with the $7.5mil given to CY and the $3.5mil wasted on Davis. That’s $11mil that could very easily have gone elsewhere…..like SS and/or 1B. Now could all of these GMs been that bad? The one commonality through each regime is the ownership. I could easily see Jeffy being a micromanaging megalomaniac that’s actually pulling the strings on every move, ultimately having a negative impact on building a winning team.

  • Metropolitan

    Well when Chris Young comes back somebody is hitting the bench and it is not going to be Chris Young or Granderson thats for sure ,those guys have got to play, I vote Eric Young. Young Lagares Granderson and E Young off the bench

  • igotadose

    He’s the Juan we want

  • Just_Da_damaja

    very true.

    just the fact that TC announces he has a FULL TIME 1B that he constantly platoons is proof positive that there is STILL a COLLEGIAL atmosphere.

  • RS

    I love Juan, I love his defense, and I hope he keeps hitting. I do think he’s been getting a bit lucky as far as his offense goes, and that is likely to regress. Juan didn’t look great last night before his big hit. But he did make that hit, and he’s obviously working hard. Also nice to see EY contribute in a big way. His speed really boosted the Mets offense last night. If he can get on base at a reasonable clip his value to this team skyrockets. It’s nice to have depth in the OF.

  • RS

    It’s his first 10 games, the league will adjust.
    Same thing in reverse for Grandy.
    It’s not a good idea to get too high or too low on a player this early in a the season…

  • RS

    The team’s being competitive so far, that’s all any one has asked for…

  • Dark HelMet

    If i have to, you’re not paying attention. I’ll save my energy and words.