On June 18, Sandy Alderson traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young. Young is arbitration eligible for 2014, but not eligible for free agency until 2017. First of all, some final thoughts on McHugh, as he already fades from memory. I never saw anything from him that impressed me, and that includes his initial outing against the Rockies. I attended that game, and my friend Ken and I were actually laughing about how maybe he would impress Colorado and we could deal him. Well, Ken, it took a while but mission accomplished. Did you like him more than me Jimmy?
Never liked a single thing about him. “Command” guys rarely excite me.
Now to Young. I see the reason that he was available being that the Rockies figured he would be too pricey to keep as a utility guy. And they have three outfielders who are clearly better than Young. The match here sure looks good. We did not have anything near three outfielders better than Young. And we very well might not by Opening Day 2014. But the big thing you see with Young around is how badly we needed someone on this roster who could run. Young can fly.
I remember reading an old-time scout talk about working for Branch Rickey, and how they would have these huge open tryouts. Usually a waste of time, but sometimes they got lucky. The first thing they did — the very first thing — was time these guys going down the line. And if they didn’t make the cutoff with speed, that was it, goodbye. He wanted guys who could move, because speed helps defense, and defense rarely slumps. I coached a 13-yr-old travel team this year, the first time on the full 90-foot base paths, and the value of speed becomes so clear on that big field. There’s so much more ground to cover! For whatever reason, Sandy put together one of the slowest teams in all of baseball — maybe the slowest, when you consider Tejeda and Murphy up the middle — and in Citi Field that’s just never, ever going to work. As we’ve said a ka-zillion times already, if you build around pitching, then you need quality defense. And speed is at the core of good defense. You gotta have it. And if you don’t, hell, you better swing a big bat.
Correct. When you watch the difference in our outfield defense with Young replacing Duda it is like night and day. Lucas doesn’t just have to hit to justify playing him in the outfield. He has to hit like crazy.
I’ve seen folks get a wee bit too excited about Young, projecting him as a possible answer to the Mets leadoff problems. Let me say right now: No.
No, no, no, no. He’s not that guy.
Eric Young is a role player, hits LHP far better than RHP, and can complement the right roster in many useful ways. A guy you pick your spots with. As a youth coach for many years, I’ve been involved in the decision-making for many All-Star teams. It’s not fun for a lot of reasons. But one guiding principle that I’ve come to believe in comes down to this: There will be a number of guys who obviously make the team. The best 5-6, or 7-8 players. Then it comes to rounding out the roster. That’s when it is far better to find the player who can do ONE THING really well than grabbing the next-best all around player. At the end of my roster, I want a kid with a great glove, or a kid who can hit (but maybe not field), or a kid who can run and steal a base. Otherwise all you get is mediocrity across the board. Because, obviously, it’s the end of the bench; the best overall guys are already on the field. At the end of the bench, it’s better to have a specific weapon — a guy who is really good at something — and again, I think Eric Young fills that bill.
Yes, but right now he is our best answer for leadoff. And as position players don’t just grow on trees it might be some time before he shifts to the back of our bench. Incremental roster progress is progress. This was a solid move by Sandy.