All fall and winter the prevailing sentiment has been that eventually the outfield would be addressed by Sandy Alderson. At the least most everyone figured Scott Hairston was some type of backup plan. Well, it is getting very close to the start of spring training and so far, what you see is what you get. The rules say you must play nine, so I’m starting to think about how I would like to see our current roster employed.
My first move if I was Terry Collins would be to stick Matt Den Dekker in centerfield and see what happens. He has a big time glove and he is not that young anymore. The argument against this would be he just won’t hit enough to be an everyday centerfielder. That might be true, but 2013 is starting to look like a very good year to make sure. And high quality centerfield defense will help ease Harvey and Wheeler’s big league transitions. Considering the other options I like the idea of giving Den Dekker a full look at the major league level in 2013. This way, if he craters with the bat it is a known fact by the deadline. If Terry needs to play Cowgill against tough lefties, fine, but otherwise I want to see Den Dekker play.
Sure, shrug, who cares. Wait! Sorry, Mike, these are difficult days — and the season hasn’t even started. I’ll try to snap out of it. Looking at the gaping maw that is the Mets outfield, this is why we have spring training, as I think it’s legitimate to say, “Somebody, please, earn a job. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?”
Yet we discussed Den Dekker before. The glove is major league ready. But in 295 career AAA at-bats, he struck out 90 times with a .220 BA. True, his AA numbers were pretty good, but is it time to throw this kid to the lions? I don’t think so. I see him in Vegas, where hopefully he can compile some numbers, build some confidence. I’m okay with Kirk in CF for the short-term. However, I really believe that the Mets need to significantly improve outfield defense across the board. If you are going to build with pitching, it’s counter-productive to put out a weak defensive team. Maybe Cowgill becomes our main glove out there, short-term (as I don’t believe he can hit), and Kirk becomes the 4th guy/defensive replacement in the corners. And maybe Den Dekker hits his way out of Vegas by June.
Lucas Duda has to play all the time. Terry shouldn’t over-think that.
One player I have no faith in is poor Mike Baxter. You want to love him, he’s a Queens kid, he plays hard, seems like a quality individual. But he’s got no pop, no speed, no glove, nothing. I know some fans really like him — I saw one guy on another board comment that he led the league in pinch-hit doubles! — but I just don’t see what he gives this team.
Don’t forget, the whole Christians versus the lions used to pack them in for the Romans. There are still some good seats to fill at Citi Field. But seriously, Den Dekker turns 26 in August and if this is the group I’d rather see the experiment. I’m not betting the ranch he works out, but I think it is a better use of the playing time.
I say that because I agree on Baxter. He’s from Queens and he gave up his body to preserve our no-hitter, but sorry, he is roster filler. Maybe he can have some sort of Matt Franco career, maybe not. But the guy should not get starts in a major league outfield.
So I would start Nieuwenhuis in right for now. This gets both him and Den Dekker in the lineup as we sort things out. I view Spring Training as a good time to get in shape, and not much else. With no one of any note blocking either Kirk or Matt I would begin the year playing both. And again, it helps the defense. I think we already know what Nieuwenhuis is defensively in center, and that is average. To be an everyday player he probably needs to slide back over there, but not if the guy in front of him in right field is Mike Baxter.
As for Duda, I guess I am over-thinking it. I want to see Duda platooned with anyone not named Justin Turner or Zach Lutz. I do not think Duda can hit lefties and he is such a sensitive brooding guy that I don’t want to keep banging his head against the wall trying. I would settle for some real pop against right handed pitchers. I guess Andrew Brown platoons with him. My turn to shrug.
Maybe he could platoon with a cardboard cutout of Ron Swoboda? I’m sorry. These days, it’s hard to analyze the team or, frankly, to talk about Terry’s outfield options with any seriousness. What options? Where? So my first instinct is to crack a joke, you know, laughing through the pain. The other option is just to get angry and post a rant. But that gets old quickly.
By the way, I seriously have to correct your spelling every single time you attempt to type Nieuwenhuis. You’d be better off typing in the letter “N” followed by the five vowels, a-e-i-o-u.
It’s enough to make you miss Jeff Francoeur.
Maybe next year we can do the Mets “2 Guys” All-Time Tough-to-Spell Team. Kirk Nieuwenhuis in CF, Jeff Francoeur in RF, Doug Mientkiewicz at 1B, Omar Quintanilla at 2B, Rick Herrscher at SS, Bobby Pfeil at 3B . . .
Almost forgot, belated congratulations to David Wright on his engagement to model Molly Beers. I guess the Hot Stove season hasn’t been a total loss.
See what I did there? It was either that or bring up Marlon Byrd, and really, there’s nothing worth saying about Marlon Byrd — except that if he gets ABs out there, we’re worse than bad, we’re misguided.