Tag: lucas duda

Nick Evans Down, Lucas Duda Up

Nick Evans has been designated for assignment by the New York Mets.

In his place, Lucas Duda has been promoted from AAA Buffalo.

There is a possibility that Duda would have been promoted instead of Evans a few weeks back, but Duda was injured at the time. Though he struggled with the big club in April, Duda has been hitting .302 with a 1.011 OPS in AAA.

Meanwhile, Evans’ time with the Mets has been dismal — he was hitless in 12 at-bats and drew 5 walks.

I have mixed feelings about this move. First of all,

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Today’s Lineup

Here is today’s lineup:

Jose Reyes-SS,
Willie Harris-LF
David Wright-3B
Ike Davis-1B
Angel Pagan-CF
Lucas Duda-RF
Brad Emaus-2B
Josh Thole-C
Chris Young-P

No great surprises here. Carlos Beltran gets a day off as per his recommended dosage of one day of rest per every three days of baseball activities. Shame, since he’s swinging such a hot bat, but he’ll hardly be missed with Willie Harris and Lucas Duda in the lineup.

In all seriousness, Duda needs to get that bat going. Jason Bay is taking live BP in Port St. Lucie but there’s still no timetable for his return. When Willie Harris made the club it was a nice story and it’s great to have his energy and enthusiasm around, but if he’s going to make 3-4 starts a week the Mets are in trouble; he’s 3 for his last 14, by the way, so his hot start to the season is cooling quickly.

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Jason Bay is on the 15-Day DL

Not a surprise, but it’s official: Jason Bay has been placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 25.

Bad news for Jason, but not necessarily bad news for the Mets. For all we know, Lucas Duda may step in and prove to be a monster with this opportunity. Plus, Bay has been the man of a thousand stances all spring, struggling to find a consistent approach and swing. Maybe a week off from swinging and tinkering is the best thing for Bay right now.

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The Fourth Outfielder

I keep reading in various places that the Mets have earmarked a portion of their meager winter budget for a fourth outfielder. If this is true, why?

It’s pretty much been established that the 2011 season will not be one seeing the Mets fighting for a playoff spot. Call it “rebuliding”, “assessing and evaluating”, “reconstructing”, or whatever you wish — the bottom line is that the team is not making a conscious effort for the short-term, and is only in the nascent stages of the long-term plan. That said, why would there be any concern about acquiring a fourth outfielder — even if it is low on the list of priorities?

Moreover, don’t the Mets already have a fourth outfielder somewhere in their system? Unless something changes between now and opening day, the starting outfield will consist of Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan, and Jason Bay. None of these three men need a defensive replacement in the late innings, and none are likely to be lifted for a pinch-hitter in any situation, either. Beltran is the only of the three who may require regular rest; if he’s the starting centerfielder, Pagan will slide into his spot on those days and a the “fourth” outfielder will step into a corner.

Now that we’ve established the regular routine, what do the Mets need from that fourth outfielder?

Ideally, he’s someone who can provide some power on the days Beltran (or Bay) is absent from the lineup. It would help, but is not necessary, if he can cover all three outfield positions; if Pagan turns out to be the starting centerfielder, both Bay and Beltran are capable of handling CF when Pagan needs a break. Additionally, this extra outfielder should also be a potentially strong pinch-hitter. In reality, the Mets probably are best suited with not only a fourth outfielder but a fifth one as well — but that “fifth” would also be versatile enough to handle an infield position (or catch) and have a slightly different skill set (i.e., hit from the opposite side, provide speed if the other has power, etc.).

Taking a cursory look at the Mets 40-man roster and high-level minor leaguers, there are several candidates to fill these roles:

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2010 Analysis: Lucas Duda

On the same day the Mets traded Jeff Francoeur, the Mets also announced the promotion of Lucas Duda, who jumped from AA to AAA and hit a combined .304 with a .398 OBP, .967 OPS, and 23 homers in 115 games. Big things were expected by big youngster from the Mets fanbase, who were yearning for homegrown talent at the tail end of yet another disappointing season.

At first, Duda struggled against MLB pitching – possibly due to nerves and/or becoming acquainted with big-league life – but was given the opportunity to settle in and he eventually adjusted, hitting .314 with a .345 OBP, .993 OPS, and 4 homers in his final 16 games / 55 plate appearances.

In the field, Duda looked a little awkward, but hustled like crazy, had no fear of walls, and got to the ball more times than not. His baserunning was similarly lumbering, but let’s face it – he won’t be in MLB for his footwork.

Overall, Duda gave the fans some hope that the Mets farm system was capable of producing big league talent. His tall, large-shouldered frame and clumsy athleticism reminded me a bit of Corey Hart or Hunter Pence, minus the foot speed. His bat – particularly in the last two weeks of the season – made me think momentarily of Adam Dunn. If Duda can fall anywhere within that range of ballplayers, the Mets and their fans will be happy indeed.

2011 Projection

Some fans may be surprised to know that Lucas Duda will be 25 years old when spring training opens; many probably thought he was younger. At that age, the clock starts running quickly on players – it’s time to fulfill promise as a big leaguer. At 25, a player still has time to improve skills, but needs to already be showing at least one MLB skill. For Duda, that is his bat – how far he goes depends completely on his ability to hit the ball consistently and for long distances. His last 16 games of 2010 could be indicative of slugger ready to blossom; it could also be a tease (remember, Daniel Murphy looked like the next Pete Rose in his first 100 MLB at-bats). At this moment, the outfield appears to be too crowded to afford Duda the chance to prove himself, but anything can happen this winter. My guess is that if the Mets move Carlos Beltran and/or Angel Pagan to another club, Duda will be given every opportunity to win a job next spring.

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