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.