Matt den Dekker Breaks Wrist – Will Mets Acquire a Center Fielder?

Perhaps you’ve heard that Matt den Dekker broke his wrist attempting to make a diving catch in Sunday’s exhibition game. Will the Mets go with internal options, or make a trade for a center fielder? There’s at least one player available who could make sense.

Though it was uncertain whether den Dekker would have broken north with the big club, it was apparent that the Mets were very happy with his defense in center field. And no one would have been surprised if den Dekker made the 25-man roster, considering that Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘ spring was both unimpressive and affected by injury; Collin Cowgill is looking more like a platoon player than an everyday one; and Jordany Valdespin may be better suited as a corner OF — or, wind up starting at 2B if Daniel Murphy isn’t ready.

But now that den Dekker’s down, the Mets either will commit to a platoon of either Captain Kirk or ‘spin and Cowgill in center, or look outside the organization for outfield depth. Considering Nieuwenhuis’ slow spring, den Dekker’s anticipated absence, and Valdespin’s inexperience as an outfielder, it makes sense to at least consider bringing in a “true” center fielder — for nothing else than as a backup plan.

One team with an overabundance of center fielders is the Texas Rangers, and it seems that Julio Borbon is available. Borbon is a slick center fielder with good speed, but spent most of 2012 in the minors and has been riddled with lower-half injuries since early 2011. Borbon just turned 27, so there’s the argument that he’s about to hit his prime. However, he’s never been more than a singles hitter — one who rarely takes a walk — and despite good speed, hasn’t been a prolific base stealer. With a career .324 OBP in MLB, he doesn’t profile as a leadoff hitter, and the Mets already have enough singles hitters, but guess what, folks? — those are oranges, not center fielders, falling from the trees in Florida. Further, the Mets don’t have much in the way of trade bait, and therefore are limited in what they can do and who they can acquire.

Other center fielders who are out of options and might be available this week include Roger Bernadina, Ezequiel Carrera, Eric Young, Jr., Casper Wells, and Emilio Bonifacio. From what I’m hearing, Bonifacio, Bernadina, and Young will go north with their respective clubs, so any of that trio would be more difficult to acquire. The other two appear to be teetering on the fence, and could be available via trade or waivers. Wells is intriguing in that he’s flashed some power in the past, but he’s more of a corner outfielder than a center fielder, and he hits right-handed, so, essentially, he’s redundant to Marlon Byrd or Cowgill. (Ironically, Wells could be pushed out of Seattle because of Jason Bay.) On the other hand, Carrera is a pure center fielder, hits from the left side, has excellent speed, good glove, and is only 25 (he turns 26 in June). In short, he’s a young Endy Chavez. Or, he’s the twin of Julio Borbon. Like Borbon, Carrera is essentially a singles hitter who doesn’t take many walks — though he will swipe a few more bags. Oh, one more thing — Carrera was originally signed by the Mets, and left the organization as part of the trade with the Mariners for Sean Green and Jeremy Reed (and some other pitcher, whose name escapes me). So, perhaps his being originally from the Mets farm makes Carrera more appealing to fans.

Twelve of this, dozen of that. Toe-MAY-toe, to-MAH-toe. Borbon, Carrera. Which do you prefer? Do you think the Mets should acquire a pure center fielder? Or will they be just fine with what they have? Answer 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. JoeBourgeois March 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm
    No, they will not get another center fielder. That would cost money. The backup plan behind Cowgill/Neu/Valdy is Byrd, it seems.
  2. Zach March 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm
    i wonder if they could get stubbs from Cleveland?
  3. argonbunnies March 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm
    No interest in Borbon and Carrera unless they’re truly elite defenders.

    Otherwise, why not try to grow some internal value and train one of our current guys out there? I don’t think any of our current guys will ever be a great CF, but maybe someone like Cowgill or Baxter could become good enough so that their bat makes them an average player there?

  4. Dan B March 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm
    Joe, what part of “punting” don’t you understand?
  5. Dan42 March 25, 2013 at 2:14 pm
    Seattle just signed Endy Chavez to a Minor League deal, presumably as Bay-Gutiérrez insurance, so Casper Wells might even be more available.
  6. Reese Kaplan March 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm
    What about Rajai Davis who apparently has no role on Toronto? They are set with Cabrera, Rasmus and Bautista in the OF. What about Craig Gentry from the Rangers? What about Tony Campaña from the D’Backs?
    • argonbunnies March 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm
      If Davis really is available, I’d love to add his speed. Dunno about his D, though — I’m inclined to think the fact that he’s never stuck CF might mean something.

      I’m also guessing that a respectable 2012 (142 games, 46 SB) might raise his price.

    • Joe Janish March 25, 2013 at 4:45 pm
      Gentry has options and is slated to be either the starting CFer or at worst part of a 4-man rotation in the Texas OF. I haven’t heard much about Campana and Davis but I think one or both still have options, which means they’d cost more to acquire.
      • argonbunnies March 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm
        David has been up and down since 2006. That’d be pretty weird if he still had options remaining.
        • argonbunnies March 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm
          Davis! Not David.
  7. DaveSchneck March 25, 2013 at 2:51 pm
    Mookie might be the most we can expect from this admin. Seriously, I would prefer Chris Young or a proven closer to improve the pitching. There is no plan B to Parnell, and I have no problem with Hefner “filling in” until Santana, I mean Wheeler is ready, but if Marcum can’t go, am I the only one that finds Gee-Hefner-Laffey is a little scary?
    • argonbunnies March 25, 2013 at 4:46 pm
      Hey, that’s true, at this point Valverde/Wilson/K-Rod oughta be practically free. Why not add one? Same for Young.
      • DaveSchneck March 25, 2013 at 5:09 pm
        Carson and Burke got lit up today. I know, it is opne spring training game, but this pen has Manny Acosta-like potential written all over it. Santana is shot. Young will be available tomorrow. Slide him into the #5, Hefner back into the pen, and stick one of Wilson/Valverde into the back end and let’s play ball.
    • Joe March 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm
      Isn’t Lyons the fill in closer if Parnell was not available?
  8. Tommy2cat March 25, 2013 at 9:35 pm
    Burke didn’t exactly get lit up. ‘Spin took wrong route to catchable flyball, seeing-eye hit and missed DP opportunity.

    We might want to revisit Murphy-for-Gregerson deal.

    Andrew Brown is coming around. Hit a moon-shot today.

    Carson threw 2 get-me-overs with a 7-0 lead. Live & learn.

    • DaveSchneck March 26, 2013 at 8:36 am
      Stand corrected on Burke, although he still worries me as he has no track record. Agree on Brown as I don’t think Byrd will be able to do it over course of season. Regarding Carson, I sure hope he doesn’t take the attitude that you suggest. This is a guy trying to make a big league team. The score in the ST game means nothing, he needs to look impressive on every pitch, no less every batter. Perhaps Izzy is right and they players already know the GM will not be looking externally to upgrade the pen. Scary, real scary.
  9. TexasGusCC March 26, 2013 at 12:27 am
    Carrera was DFA’d tonight by the Indians.
  10. Izzy March 26, 2013 at 4:58 am
    All theproposals are entertaining and intriguing and show that everyone is a better GM than the hapless guy sitting there now. Sandy Failureson. Sad that he has so failed that suggestions ofr Chris Young and ruing Endy signing somewhere would indeed improve this Failureson led team.
  11. TJK March 26, 2013 at 8:22 am
    Who is this writer?

    With a player that was not going to make the MLB roster, the Mets are in a need of a centerfielder for the MLB level?

    Collin Cowgill is looking more like a platoon player? The man is hitting .333 with .397 OBP overall, and .313 with .353 OBP in limited duties against lefties. Shown ability to homer, and hope to reduce CS %. There is nothing that indicates that Collin Cowgill is a platoon player resulting from spring training.

    Lucas Duda will get the leftfield, Collin Cowgill in centerfield, and Maron Byrd in rightfield. Combination of Jordany Valespin and Mike Baxter as backup.

    • Joe Janish March 26, 2013 at 8:50 am
      Who is the writer? There’s a byline that states “by Joe Janish” — it’s as clear as day. My question is: “who is this commenter?” as all I see is “TJK.”

      Has this commenter watched any of Cowgill’s at-bats against righthanded pitchers? Apparently not, or you wouldn’t be questioning the thought that he’ll be a platoon player. Perhaps you also don’t have access to “split stats,” which show that Cowgill, historically, is not nearly as effective against righties as he is lefties (MLB and minor league).

      But hey, what the heck do I know? I’m just going by the stats and what I see with my eyes.

  12. Milmore March 27, 2013 at 11:44 am
    TJK and Janish: You’re both wrong and you’re both right. Cowgill is crushing lefties and struggling against righties. But his defense warrants a spot in the lineup regardless of who is on the mound,even more so with Niewenhuis injured. So while Cowgill seems suited for a platoon because of his splits…his athleticism and upside actually make him worthy of a chance to play everyday. We won’t know what Cowgill really is until he determines that himself after a month of regular season play,but for now a relevant case could be made for each of your positions.