Mets Fan Window Shopping: Centerfield

Growing up poor — and still today far from wealthy — I didn’t have the chance to indulge in many luxuries. So one of the things I did to deal was “window shop,” which is the exercise of checking out cool stuff you really want, but can’t afford. It’s sort of a daydream, and if you have a really good imagination, it makes you feel all warm inside for a few minutes — maybe even an hour.

Since the Mets are poor, and thus can’t afford any of the luxury items on the free-agent market, we’ll indulge ourselves by window shopping this winter.

In case you missed it, the Mets have a hole in centerfield, so we’ll start there. Unless you are of the ilk that Kirk Nieuwenhuis will become more than Jeremy Reed or Cory Sullivan (hey, I LOVED those guys — and still can’t figure out why either of them weren’t brought in last year to play for the MLB minimum, instead of Andres Torres … but, I digress …).

If the Mets were a big-market team with money to spend, they’d likely consider some of the free agent centerfielders available below. Since they play in the tiny Flushing market, the Mets obviously can’t make a pitch for any. But hey, on this blog, we can dream — if only for a few fleeting moments. So here goes …

B.J. Upton
The Mets could really use a power-hitting outfielder, preferably a righthanded one, ideally under 30 … and in a perfect world, one who plays centerfield and has the speed to cover the vast expanse of Citi Field. Huh — B.J. Upton fits all of those characteristics. To boot, he was a schoolboy teammate of David Wright — what a story that would be! Ah, but alas, the Mets don’t have the dollars to acquire a slick-fielding, speedy, 28-year-old centerfielder who is a potential 30-30 guy. Oh well. Not to worry, though, as there’s a really good chance we’ll get to see Upton play 18 times a year as a member of either the Phillies or Braves. So there’s that.

Josh Hamilton
Our generation’s Mickey Mantle likely isn’t an ideal everyday centerfielder due to injury issues, likely isn’t a good fit under the microscope in NYC due to personal issues, likely is too old to be worth the contract he’ll command, and is too lefthanded to be a perfect fit for the Mets’ lineup. Thank goodness the Mets can’t afford him!

Michael Bourn
Like Hamilton, Bourn is a lefthanded hitter, so the Mets don’t want him. He’s also much too fleet afoot; he’d probably try to steal bases, which goes against the Mets’ station-to-station offensive strategy. Finally, the ground he can cover in centerfield would embarrass Lucas Duda. It’s probably best that the Mets won’t make an offer on the 29-year-old speedster.

Shane Victorino
I’m not sure Victorino is still a true everyday centerfielder. I’m positive there’s no Mets uniform that would fit him, even if it’s the right size — he has too much Phillies in him. If he attempted to put on a Mets uniform in front of a mirror, my guess is there would be no reflection.

Angel Pagan
This guy looks SO familiar, but why? He might be worth a three-year deal. Think of it this way: if he doesn’t work out, the Mets can always trade him for an overaged AAAA outfielder and a mop-up reliever. Two heads are better than one after all, right?

Nate McLouth
Like Victorino, I’m not sure McLouth is still a legit everyday MLB centerfielder. After his postseason performance, I don’t know that he’d be available for the one-year, under-$1M commitment the Mets are willing to offer. Truth is, McLouth is what Kirk Nieuwenhuis might see if Captain Kirk were visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future on December 24th.

Grady Sizemore
Over the past few years, Sizemore has underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee, suffered multiple injuries to his right knee, had an operation for a hernia, and had back surgery. He hasn’t appeared in a Major League game since September 2011 and, at age 30, there are major questions as to whether he’ll ever play again. Hey, this sounds just like the type of high-risk, moderate-reward signing the Mets front office is known for! The Mets just might be able to offer Sizemore an incentive-laden deal, and foot the tab for all the physical therapy and rehab he’ll undergo in 2013, in preparation for a 2014 comeback. Heck, he already has a potential Port St. Lucie rehab roommate in Tim Byrdak.

Andruw Jones
This one I threw in just for fun. Jones hasn’t played centerfield regularly since 2007. Actually, he hasn’t played any position regularly since 2007. However, even at age 35, I’m confident that Jones would be a better overall option in centerfield than anyone else currently in the Mets organization.

Did I miss anyone? Who would you pick from above, if the Mets were owned by Daddy Warbucks and you were the GM? Post your notes in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Rev.Al November 27, 2012 at 7:19 am
    I remember when N.Y. fans ,would window shop, who is better. Mickey Mantle , Willie Mays , or Duke Snider?
    • Dan November 27, 2012 at 7:45 am
      When New York had 3 teams, instead of one and a half.
  2. Dan B November 27, 2012 at 7:38 am
    Mets would of let Mickey, Willie, and the Duke walk away because they do not believe in giving out large contracts (except for closers).
    • AV November 27, 2012 at 9:57 am
      Or bring them back past their prime, as they actually did with Duke.
      • Dan November 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm
        Willie also, from

        “Mays played a season and a half with the Mets before retiring, appearing in 133 games. The New York Mets honored him on September 25, 1973, (Willie Mays’ Night) where he thanked the New York fans and said goodbye to America. He finished his career in the 1973 World Series, which the Mets lost to the Oakland Athletics in seven games. Mays got the first hit of the Series, but had only seven at-bats (with two hits). He also fell down in the outfield during a play where he was hindered by the glare of the sun and by the hard outfield. Mays later said, “growing old is just a helpless hurt.” In 1972 and 1973, Mays was the oldest regular position player in baseball. He became the oldest position player to appear in a World Series game.”

        • Joe Janish November 28, 2012 at 12:05 am
          No Mickey, though — not even Tettleton or Klutts!

          Funny, I wonder if this blog would exist if not for Willie Mays’ swan song in Flushing. The main reason I became a Mets fan was because my dad was a huge Willie fan — going back to the Polo Grounds days — and he plopped me in front of the TV every time Willie came to bat on WOR channel 9.

          Though, it could be argued that misery is destiny, and some other player/event would have driven me to the senseless and painful passion for orange and blue.

        • Dan November 28, 2012 at 7:56 am
          I more or less ignored the Mets until ’69, when Hodges was facilitating the Miracle and they became more than a Flushing joke. We’ll never know how things would have been if it weren’t for catalysts like that for me, and Willie’s finale (which was probably the only reason I paid attention to them then) for you.

          It reminds me of an exchange I had with a avid Mets fan on a non Met blog, where he insisted that the Met moves like Perez, Bay, Castillo, and Putz didn’t have much bearing on today’s team, which is true only if indirect results and consequences are ignored.

  3. Dan B November 27, 2012 at 9:05 am
    On a less sarcastic note, (hard to believe I could write a non-sarcastic comment) the state of outfielders, especially centerfielders, is kind of poor right now. There aren’t that many I would go out of my way to watch. I have a question for Joe and others. Would you bother trading for or signing an outfielder that would be an upgrade over our current outfielders if that player still wasn’t good enough to be part of a pennant? Personally, I think a step forward is always worth it since it makes the next step easier.
    • Joe Janish November 27, 2012 at 9:25 am
      I agree that right now isn’t exactly the Golden Age of Centerfielders — when compared to the days of Willie, Mickey, and the Duke, or the guys patrolling CF during the Steroid Era such as Torii Hunter, Mike Cameron, Carlos Beltran, Darin Erstad, Bernie Williams, etc. (not necessarily suggesting that any of them were on PEDs). However, I see the position in flux right now, with some exciting youngsters making their mark mixed in with a bunch of guys who are good, but not Garry Maddox. You wouldn’t pay to see Mike Trout, Adam Jones, Josh Hamilton, or Shawn Kemp?

      And actually, I think the current FA market has several more-than-adequate options. Upton is a really strong all-around player with power; I guess people don’t love him because of his low average, low OBP, and occasional attitude issues, but when you look at the position as defense first, you have to like what he brings to the table. If you consider Hamilton a centerfielder, there aren’t many better. I’ll take Bourn any day of the week as my CF — he’s a championship-caliber player. Victorino lost a step but I’d still prefer him to Andres Torres, Captain Kirk, or Jordany Valdespin. And though I personally am not all that fond of Pagan, he was the CFer for the World Champions, so he must be good enough to be part of a pennant.

  4. AV November 27, 2012 at 9:56 am
    “I’m positive there’s no Mets uniform that would fit [Victorino], even if it’s the right size — he has too much Phillies in him. If he attempted to put on a Mets uniform in front of a mirror, my guess is there would be no reflection.”

    I am literally LOL!!!

  5. Dan B November 27, 2012 at 10:34 am
    I am not saying we will never see a good outfielder again, I am saying last year’s group didn’t excite me as previous years. I do love watching Hamilton. I didn’t see Trout play last year, but I sure as heck plan on going out of my way next year (he is Jersey Strong, after all). I did love watching Shawn Kemp when he played for the Seattle Supersonics.
    • Joe Janish November 28, 2012 at 12:22 am
      HA! Shawn Kemp … what was I thinking? Perhaps it’s a Freudian slip. I did very much enjoy watching that ever-expanding man-child called “Reign Man.” Though, he can’t hit like Matt.

      Even before anyone was talking about RoY / MVP honors, Trout reminded me of Fred Lynn. In fact, he was a joy to watch in high school. He also reminds me a bit of Erstad in the field, and even Hamilton, who goes all out to the point of self-destruction.

      If Carlos Gomez had a brain he would be the closest thing to Garry Maddox as we’d ever see. Though, his lack of instinct probably gives Gomez the best chance of being the first centerfielder since Maddox to catch a foul fly ball. (Though, that may be a myth; I can’t confirm Maddox ever did really catch a foul ball, though it seems completely plausible considering he played alongside Greg Luzinski for several years.)

      • NormE November 28, 2012 at 1:46 am
        The first time I ever heard the line about a CFer catching a foul ball was when the Cubs had Hank Sauer and Ralph Kiner in the OF. The guy in CF was Frankie Baumholtz.
  6. Mic November 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm
    dexter………fowler that is
  7. Mike B November 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm
    Go for broke and get the Upton brothers on your team. If they got BJ and Justin they would pay for themselves.
    • Joe Janish November 28, 2012 at 12:24 am
      What about Sinclair? Then the outfield would be like a jungle!
      • argonbunnies November 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm
        Or it’d be dead meat.
      • argonbunnies November 28, 2012 at 11:23 pm
        Now that B.J. has signed with the Braves, I’m looking forward to seeing him dog it in the OF and swing at pitches 3 feet out of the strike zone. If Joe Maddon couldn’t make this guy a better player, then good luck to the post-Cox Braves.

        Maybe he and Reyes can pioneer an All-Excitement Team. Homers, triples, steals, flashy plays! I’d pay to watch that team lose.

        Anyway, if money is no object, obviously you take Hamilton, then Bourn. In the real world, I’m hoping Den Dekker cuts his Ks down to the point where he can be at least part of a productive platoon.

  8. DaveSchneck November 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm
    None on you list excite me based on value. The FAs will be overpaid and most teams will be disappointed in the long run. My preference is to get a CF/leadoff hitter via trade. That, of course, depends on the price tag. Fowler and Span both fit the bill, but I don’t think the Mets can offer more than Atlanta or Washington for either unless they include Niese, and I would not do that. So, hopefully, Atlanta, Washington, and Philly overspend on Bourn, Upton, Pagan, Victorino, the price comes down on Fowler and Span, and Colorado/Minny accepts a minor league arm not named Wheeler, Fulmer, or Montero, along with another player.
    • Joe Janish November 28, 2012 at 12:31 am
      I live in NYC where price is no object, and it’s not my money so I don’t care about whether a player is overpaid.

      If you want to discuss the subject of overpaid then let’s start with Andres Torres, who would have been overpaid if his salary were half the MLB minimum. I’ll overpay BJ Upton for 25-30 homers and above-average defense in CF in a heartbeat. Bourn and Victorino fit the CF/leadoff hitter you desire. Again, overpaying them is not my problem, it’s the problem of the owner. Why must we Mets fans be victimized and change our line of thinking because the ownership is more suited to running a Frontier League team? Why should WE change our expectation of watching MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL — especially when we are still forced to pay MLB ticket prices?

      Budget concerns are for KC, Pittsburgh, and Bismarck, North Dakota fans. Give me a goddamn ownership that can handle the cost of living and doing business in New York, please — every other legitimate business in this metropolis has to be on that level, after all.

      BTW I’m incredibly curious: what about Josh Hamilton doesn’t excite you?

      • DaveSchneck November 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm
        I am in full agreement that money should be no object in NYC. I am just accepting that it is. Take away cost and they all excite me more than anyone on the Mets at this time. Baseball-wise, Hamilton is incredibly exciting and in a league of his own, but the points you mention make him too risky even if they had the dough.

        By the way, I do think they could dig up an old Mo Vaugh jersey to fit Victorino.

        • Joe Janish December 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm
          Actually, the one and only Mets jersey I’ve ever owned is a Mo Vaughn, #42. I don’t think it would actually fit Mo, even as an infant (or Victorino, for that matter).
      • Mike B December 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm
        Thank You Joe, I wish you would post this every day for the rest of the month at least. It is professional sports they are all overpaid, Russel Martin just got 9 Million dollars a year. You cant sign anyone worth watching for under 15 million dollars. Fans shouldnt worry about owners “OverPaying” They have plenty of money from the fans overpaying to come watch their team.
        • Joe Janish December 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm
          Ha! Good point on Martin.

          I’m just sick and tired of hearing about how the Mets have to rub two nickels together. This is NEW YORK. If you can’t make money here with a Major League sports franchise and the largest TV market on the planet, then you shouldn’t be in business. It’s sickening, this Bud Selig Old Boys Club.

  9. argonbunnies November 28, 2012 at 11:24 pm
    Now that B.J. has signed with the Braves, I’m looking forward to seeing him dog it in the OF and swing at pitches 3 feet out of the strike zone. If Joe Maddon couldn’t make this guy a better player, then good luck to the post-Cox Braves.

    Maybe he and Reyes can pioneer an All-Excitement Team. Homers, triples, steals, flashy plays! I’d pay to watch that team lose.

    Anyway, if money is no object, obviously you take Hamilton, then Bourn. In the real world, I’m hoping Den Dekker cuts his Ks down to the point where he can be at least part of a productive platoon.