Hey, Jimmy, I noticed last week that Collin McHugh was designated for assignment by the Rockies. That got me thinking back to the trade we made with Colorado to pick up Eric Young Jr. Surely that worked out.
Yes, it was a great deal. I like Eric Young, a good weapon to have on the roster. He’s not my idea of a corner outfielder, and I still have no idea if he can play second base. There was talk in some places that McHugh was a potential 5th-starter type, but I never saw it. Or I should say, those types are just not that valuable. Jake DeGrom is the latest version of Colin McHugh, every system has these guys. And yet, contrary to that, every team seems to be looking for arms, so it’s a conundrum. Mediocre pitching seems to be valued on the marketplace. That we turned an ordinary arm into a useful piece is a credit to Sandy Alderson. I just hope our desperation for a leadoff hitter doesn’t force the club to overplay its hand.
When we acquired Young Jr. we had a very bad outfield. Even though Eric had been looked at as a utility player up until that time, sticking him at leadoff and playing him daily made sense. But after an initial hot streak Young Jr. was nothing special. He is a good guy to have on a team, but I like him coming off the bench.
Eric Young is nobody’s idea of a table-setter, because he doesn’t get on base enough. It’s natural to overrate the value of a stolen base. Speaking to this tendency, Bill James compared it to watching a tumbleweed roll across an empty landscape. He said, “A single tumbleweed blowing across the desert will attract the eye because it’s the only thing moving. A runner steal bases draws attention not because what he’s doing is important, but because he is moving.” Unless Young shifts to 2B, which I suppose is possible, I see him fighting for ABs with Juan Lagares. Because, you know, promises of regular playing time have already been made to Chris Young. And Granderson, of course, will play.
To me, Mike, the head-scratcher is Chris Young, stopgap. Wouldn’t you like to have that $7.5 million right about now?
As to the money, that is the going rate, and even now I wouldn’t personally say “What an outfield!” about our crew. Chris Young is known as a plus defender, and I believe strong outfield defense is smart business for this team. The head-scratcher to me is the supposed promise of playing time. I’m not a fan of those types of promises. Coming off a .200 season, let Chris Young earn his playing time.
I know you are not a fan of “mix and match,” in this case I like the approach. If you look back at our National League Champion 2000 team we did a lot of that with our outfield. In 1986, Mookie, Lenny, and Kevin Mitchell shared two spots on the field. I thought this would be the idea with the Chris Young signing. The Youngs could split some time in left, and Chris could pick up another 125 ABs giving Lagares a day off when some extra offense is needed. A lot depends on how much playing time they worry about giving Eric Young Jr.
This can be managed.
Um, there’s a world of difference between Bobby Valentine (circa 2000), Davey Johnson (circa 1986), and Terry Collins. With Terry, I see a guy who overreacts, or needlessly shuffles things around, who tries to make things happen, who favors proven veterans over youth whenever there’s an option. I don’t want to see young players turned into platoon guys before they ever get a real shot. My feeling is if Lagares has two bad weeks, he’ll be looking over his shoulder, sitting on the pine, worried about whether he’s taking enough pitches or not. I have no confidence in Terry Collins, the maestro. Maybe that’s the real issue here, for me. In more capable hands, it would be easier to think, “Okay, let the best man win.” In this case, I’m not sure it will be a fair fight.
Look at Daniel Murphy. I actually think he’s been handled perfectly so far. Very early on, it was clear to me — as it was to you — that his biggest value would be as a good hitting second baseman. It behooved the organization to give him that opportunity. Amazingly, that was up for debate; a lot of folks were against it. But the organization gave him a shot, and (importantly) showed a willingness to let him grow and develop over time, and in the process maximized the value of that player. Just as, for example, moving him to first base would ultimately diminish his value. The strange thing now is that the Mets are shopping Murphy, if reports are to be believed, largely because he’s going to start earning decent money. I see Juan Lagares in a similar vein. Let’s try to get the most out of this guy. Let’s support him through his struggles. He’s a GG-caliber in Citi Field on a team built around young pitching. I don’t want to see that yanked around to get speedy Eric Young in games, and I sure don’t want him to prematurely lose an opportunity for a temporary sand bag named Chris Young.
Right now I would say your position that Collins favors veterans is intuitive. I don’t think we know. In the three years he has managed, young players such as Tejada, Davis, Lagares, and Duda have been given a very fair amount of playing time. Lagares played in over 120 games after his call up. If he only starts 120 this year I think that is plenty of playing time to establish himself. Overall when I look at those 2010 to 2013 rosters I cannot find one young player who I feel was ruined by loss of opportunity. Some would say Valdespin, I guess, but I’m not a fan of his. I would have cut him way before the Mets did.
But the reason I used the word “intuitive” for your position and not wrong is I don’t think we have had enough talent to know one way or the other. The players above had to play, you have to field nine guys. And there was nothing except organizational garbage behind them.
In the case of this year’s outfield, I view the handling of Young Jr. as the key. I think Lagares and Chris Young can bring more to the table as starters, I also do not see Lagares’s skill set as being useful in a reserve role.
We made a smart, savvy move to pick up Young Jr.
Now I’m hoping we stay smart and use him correctly.