Guaranteed playing time or not, the Mets commitment to Chris Young should not last too much longer given his recent struggles. At some point the Mets will have to pull the plug on Young and start giving his playing time to more worthy and productive players.
For some odd reason manager Terry Collins decided to put the slumping CY in the cleanup spot during Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to the Dodgers. Young went 0-for-3 with a rally killing double-play in one of those at-bats and a runner stranded in scoring position in another.
Many people, including myself, were unhappy with the Chris Young signing and would of preferred the Mets go after a more proven power bat, such as a Nelson Cruz, who ended up signing a nearly identical contract with the Orioles very late in free agency. Or the money could have been better utilized to fill another need like shortstop.
The Mets came into the season with a logjam of four starting outfielders in CY, Eric Young Jr., Curtis Granderson and Juan Lagares, three of whom could play center field. It appeared that the organization had no trust in the up-and-coming Lagares despite his breakthrough defensive season in 2013 and a phenomenal offensive showing in Winter Ball.
However, an early stint on the disabled list for Chris Young changed everything. Lagares stepped in, got a chance to play everyday, and wowed everyone with an electrifying start to the season both in the field and more importantly at the plate as well.
By the time Chris Young returned from the DL, Terry Collins was unwilling to keep Lagares as the everyday center fielder and announced a 4-man outfield rotation that would give everyone equal playing time. However that almost led to a revolt when at one point Collins benched Lagares for three straight games and four of five, prompting outrage from the ticket-buying fans and harsh criticism from writers and analysts.
The situation is still unresolved to this day and Collins is under the microscope before each game as to which three outfielders gets to be in the starting lineup. It’s a tenuous situation.
Granderson is almost a given to be starting everyday because of the Mets’ $60 million dollar commitment to him for the next four years. Lagares continues be the team’s best hitter and with three more hits on Tuesday is now slashing at a .315/.361/.472 for the season. Obviously, his glove has shined and only adds to his value as an everyday centerfielder. Terry Collins has taken a liking to Eric Young Jr., who he says gives the Mets a pure leadoff hitter who can wreak havoc on the base paths. EY has a low .202 batting average and his .311 on-base is hardly leadoff-worthy, however his ability to reach base in the first inning makes him additionally attractive to Collins. EY has a .394 OBP in the first inning of games this year has it proved helpful to get the Mets on the scoreboard early.
Chris Young should be the odd man out at this point. He is producing at a .206/.272/.360 clip this season with only three home runs and 11 RBI.
Sandy Alderson brought in Young this winter in the hopes of him revitalizing his career and bringing some power to Citi Field. Sandy believed that Young’s struggles were attributed to being platooned while in Oakland where he batted .200/.280/.379.
So he gambled $7.5 million that with regular playing time Young would flourish. Sandy was wrong. Perhaps he should have looked at Young’s career righthanded splits, then he would have seen why Billy Beane eventually placed him in a platoon role.
Alderson knew this was a risky signing this winter. If he produced, Alderson looks like a genius but this hasn’t been the case. The Mets preach that they want to win now, and if that’s true Chris Young should be heading to the bench no matter how much playing time he was promised.
The Mets need to stop this four-way outfielder rotation. For now, Granderson and Lagares need to play everyday. If Collins wants to maintain his fixation on EY, then it should be at the expense of Chris Young and not the other two.