Juan Lagares still has the speed, range, instincts, coordination, and fearlessness that made him a Gold Glover in Center Field last year. But one tool is absent: his arm.
After missing the end of last season with an elbow injury, Juan’s rocket of an arm has ranged from decent to weak over the first two months of the 2015 campaign, and it really looked flat on a sacrifice fly that scored Arizona’s sixth run in the eighth inning last night.
I’m not willing to believe that Juan’s arm is done for good. 26 year-olds don’t suddenly forget how to throw the ball hard. But his cannon is certainly out of commission right now, and it needs repairs. I wondered last night whether he needs Tommy John Surgery— it’s uncommon for a position player, but not unheard of, and based on his play and the comments made by him and his manager this year, Lagares’ elbow injury is clearly something that didn’t just “heal with time”— and it was probably never going to.
Lagares should have gotten his elbow fixed this winter. He didn’t, so it’s useless to play the “shoulda coulda woulda” game— if we did that with the Mets, it’d take hours before we got to Juan’s elbow anyway. But he clearly needs something, be it Tommy John or some other procedure.
Should he get it fixed now? It’s a tough question. The Mets are currently slammed with injuries, and would probably be hesitant to lose Lagares if they could avoid it. Can they avoid it? Lagares is still a big “plus” in center even with his (hopefully) temporarily damaged arm, but, while he has been a bit better at the plate lately, he has mostly been a non-factor at the dish after a strong first couple of weeks.
If there is a risk of further injury, the Mets should of course address the situation now. If not, they might be better off letting Juan play in his compromised state, taking his terrific skills as a ball-hawk in center and hoping he can provide a bit more with the bat (he hasn’t been atrocious). The team is shorthanded as is.