At the moment, the Mets don’t have a legitimate MLB centerfielder. Nearly as concerning is the fact they don’t have any legitimate outfielders to flank the ghost in center field. So, let’s pretend the Mets have a budget as large as the Kansas City Royals, and can consider offering contracts to free agent outfielders currently available.
I know, I know – the 39-year-old Abreu is only a whisper of the shadow that he once was. But, a whisper of a shadow is still better than sending 8 players out on the field. Abreu no longer has the bat speed to hit .300+ or hit 20+ homers, but he still has a good eye, evidenced by his .361 OBP through 230 plate appearances with the Dodgers last season. I don’t think he’d be a viable option as a starter, and may not even be good enough to platoon, but it might be worth taking a flyer on him as a non-roster / ST invite and see if he can be a pinch-hitter who can fill in once a week.
Ibanez was never a good fielder and he’s even worse now. His 19 homeruns and .761 OPS were likely the product of being in a scary Yankees lineup and playing half his games in Yankee Stadium. As much as I hate his defense, he MIGHT be OK as part of a platoon; he did swat RHPs to the tune of a .812 OPS. Though, I think it would have to be a limited platoon — the kind where the RH bat plays against some righthanders. If it were up to me, I’d pass.
Kearns could be the RH bat that platoons with Ibanez, considering that he hit righthanders significantly better than lefthanders last year — and has been pretty much the same hitter against all pitchers, regardless of handedness, his entire career. Kearns’ batting average and power numbers have steadily declined as he’s aged, but he continues to get on base, which we think is valued by the Mets. He’s not the best solution, but is there a MLB-ready, righthanded-hitting outfielder in the Mets organization who is better? Scary thought.
For his entire career, Matt Diaz had one tool: he could hit lefthanded pitching. Then he entered his early 30s. I don’t know if he can make a miraculous comeback and once again be the righthanded side of a platoon, but it can’t hurt to offer him a spring training invite. Otherwise, my gut says “pass.”
He seemed to be a perfect fit in Boston, but, they found alternatives. If the Mets signed him, he’d be the best outfielder in the organization. That’s sad.
Like Ross, if the Mets signed him, he’d be the best outfielder under contract. Swisher has had the benefit of the short porch in Yankee Stadium and plenty of support in the lineup, but even before moving to the Bronx, Swisher hit with power and was an on-base machine, so there’s some hope that he can continue to be productive away from the Yankees.
We keep waiting — and waiting — for Young to do something spectacular. Or, at least, good. Wasn’t he supposed to win a batting title, or a triple crown, or something, by now? Young is still young at age 27, and moving into what is supposed to be his peak years. Even at his underwhelming, enigmatic self, Young is better on paper than anyone the Mets have, and has more potential than any outfielder under contract by the Mets. Considering his age, to me it’s a no-brainer.
Here’s a crazy thought: the Mets could, theoretically, have an outfield of Swisher, Ross (or Young), and Michael Bourn — would that be so terrible? Shoot, go crazy and put Josh Hamilton in CF (or one of the corners). Imagine David Wright hitting in front of Hamilton? Or behind Bourn and Swisher? I know, I know, it will never happen. But I can dream, and further, it’s proof that the pickings aren’t all THAT slim — even this late in the offseason. I would go so far as to say that if the Mets put together an outfield like that, and signed A.J. Pierzynski to catch, they’d have a legitimate shot at keeping things interesting through August — maybe even play “meaningful games” in September.
What are your thoughts?
About the Author
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.