Mets Outfield: What’s Next?
The Mets have many, many questions pertaining to next season and the forthcoming ones. For me, the outfield situation is very intriguing. Ever since Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson were my favorite Mets growing up, I have been fascinated with outfielders (centerfield more than anything), and the question marks surrounding the current crop of outfield dwellers is worth taking a look at. Yes, I am well aware that injuries, trades, signings, and the rise and fall of prospects can make all these points moot.
As of right now, on the Major League roster are Jason Bay, Lucas Duda, Scott Hairston, and Andres Torres, and it’s looking like either Mike Baxter or Adam Loewen will have the first crack at the fifth slot. We all know Jason Bay’s situation by now, hoping that he bounces back to help the offense and hopefully get something back in a trade. Torres can go get it in center, but his offense is a question mark. Right off the bat, we have two-thirds of the starting Mets outfield that are not going to be there for the short, medium, or long term. Then we have the curious case of Lucas Duda. Can he hit enough to make up for defensive shortcomings? Can he keep up his offensive barrage from last year? If not, the Mets might have two DHs on the roster (Duda and Daniel Murphy) and an interesting problem for Sandy Alderson. Baxter and Loewen could be good pieces for spot starts, and Loewen could provide some nice pop — possible reverse Hairston. Local boy Baxter is a nice story, but might be nothing more then a defensive sub for Duda.
If any of these guys falter or are traded, is there any hope on the farm? Don’t let ESPN’s low rank fool you, the Mets minor league situation is much better than last year. Easily the most MLB-ready outfielder is Kirk Nieuwenhuis a.k.a. “Captain Kirk.” If not for a season ending shoulder injury (see, he’s ready for the Mets), we probably would have gotten a glimpse last year. He does not stand out in any one area, but does everything well and plays with a football mentality that New Yorkers will love. The biggest question mark is what position does he play — corner? center? And, can he hit lefties well enough to play every day? I have a feeling that if he’s healthy, we will find out sooner than later. Matt Den Dekker is another possibility; his glove his ready for Citi Field and he’s fun to watch chase a fly ball. His speed is there, hopefully he can hit enough. If he’s able to to hit consistently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nieuwenhuis shifted to one of the corners.
After those two, it gets a little cloudy. There is talent, but they are probably not close to The Show. However, a September call up might be in the cards for a couple of these guys if the stars align: Juan Lagares, Cesar Puello, Cory Vaughn, Darrell Ceciliani, Brad Marquez, and my two favorites: Brandon Nimmo and Travis Taijeron. Selfishly, I hope Nimmo gets some at-bats in Brooklyn so i can catch him in person. The one skill set missing from the group is power. As of right now, only Taijeron and Vaughn have shown the ability to go deep. Nimmo is the most tantalizing, with all five tools, though it’s far too early to get caught up in any hype of our latest first-round pick.
Well, what happens when these prospects fizzle or are traded? Free agency is always there to fill in those pesky roster holes. By this time next year, I am going to be positive and act as if we can spend instead of cutting costs. It’s nearly impossible to predict the free agent market for next year, but names to look at are: B.J. Upton, Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Grady Sizemore, and Andre Either. A healthy Sizemore would be a nice fit, Upton has all the tools to thrive in Citi Field, and of course Hamilton would be a lovely pipe dream.
Suffice to say, the future of the Mets outfield is a bit cloudy at the moment. My hope is that two of the prospects develop into productive pros and can be supplemented by a free-agent signing. I will be shocked if all three spots are filled by prospects. All things considered, at least we have some hope for a productive outfield.
Do you have any predictions/hopes for who you want roaming the Citi Field outfield? Express yourself in the comments.