I’ve been speculating about the possibility that Juan Lagares could end up getting squeezed out of an outfield spot as soon as I gave the Chris Young signing and his comments about playing center field some time to register.
My suspicions were further fueled by the ongoing buzz from the team and the rumor mill that Eric Young Jr. is the leading candidate to bat leadoff this season.
You see, Chris Young is a natural center fielder, and Eric on the other hand is more suited to a corner outfield position, so do the math.
The thought of Lagares getting pushed out of the outfield picture was disappointing to me, but given the current roster configuration and coupled with the Mets need for a leadoff hitter, the reality that it could happen kept gnawing away at me.
Spring training also will be a proving ground to see whether Young can be the leadoff hitter and how the outfield will shape up, especially center field. There is a possibility Collins may go with an outfield where four players share three positions or the Mets could ship Juan Lagares to the minors. Going into camp, Lagares is the starting center fielder.
Kernan adds that Chris Young could be the center fielder or he could wind up in right with the other new Met Curtis Granderson in left. There is also the possibility Lucas Duda, a major defensive liability, could wind up seeing time in the outfield. He will be given innings in spring training to see if he has improved after last season’s struggles.
This is exactly what I discussed in another post last week. You see, if Ike Davis wins the first base job it will certainly push Duda back into the outfield picture. This much has already been established by both Collins and Sandy Alderson. So where are all these outfielders going to play and who among them still has minor league options remaining? Bingo. Those damned minor league options.
It’s too premature to worry about how things shake out, but barring any injuries or significant setbacks, Lagares’ spot on the roster is not as rock solid as once presumed. And who would have thought that two months ago?
I hope that Lagares proves all the doubters wrong this Spring, and forces the Mets to cut bait with one of these so-called experienced major leaguers that always seem to get the benefit of the doubt as well as too much unwarranted playing time with Terry Collins.
My Prediction: Lagares not only wins the center field job outright, but after a torrid spring he is named the Mets Opening Day leadoff hitter.