Okay, I’ve seen enough. What we are seeing with Lagares, this was what I was hoping for with den Dekker. Get a guy with a glove so good for centerfield that anything he hits is a bonus. I’m ready to take centerfield off of the shopping list.
I had the same thought as I watched the game in Minnesota. Folks are comparing him to Andruw Jones, plus praising his seriousness and his work ethic. He’s shown impressive dedication and improvement. And even if the offense disappoints, the glove is enough.
What is interesting about Lagares’s defensive play is that it’s so outstanding that there is no debate. Fans like me, who are not yet comfortable with defensive metrics, love what we see. But people who do serious statistical analysis are impressed with Juan too. On SNY the other day, Gary Cohen mentioned that Mark Simon from ESPN credits Lagares with 20 runs saved. His UZR rating is 13.3, third among centerfielders with a minimum of 200 innings played. I just keep hoping Sandy Alderson, who has been stuck on early 1990’s metrics like they are a bad old vinyl record, takes a course on defensive metrics.
Because, as Juan has shown, defense matters.
It’s uncanny how the conversation has completely shifted from the spring. We were looking at Lucas Duda in LF and Cowgill in CF; Sandy was busy talking about the link between home runs and wins. Meanwhile some of us in the blogosphere were asking, “What about defense?” Now it’s a complete turnaround. I’m glad for it, but the shift away from Duda happened because of Ike’s failures and then Duda’s injury. Lagares was pining away on the bench for weeks; Terry was disinclined to give him the time of day. We went with Ankiel, wasted more time with Kirkkkkk. Dithered around. Suddenly the light bulb has gone on, as if somebody flipped the switch by accident.
Another thing to consider, and yes I’m going to bang this drum again, but den Dekker can really go get it too. As Lagares is showing us every day, there is big value in that. He should be up in September and playing, we should give den Dekker a whirl in September. He is under team control for years, and we need to see if he can help us. As you once sagely mentioned in regard to Eric Young, the best role players have one standout skill. Den Dekker has that with his glove, and he seems like the perfect 4th outfielder for us if we go with Lagares. He bats lefty too.
Yes, Matt den Dekker should be in the mix, as they say, and his glove could be an asset. Last I looked, he’s under .200 against LHP in AAA and that’s a real liability, IMO. Maybe he suddenly transcends himself at the plate, but that’s not a plan with which I can open 2014. I don’t share your fascination with the guy. This Mets team can only improve in so many ways: 1B, SS, and/or LF/RF. Resigning Byrd to a one-year deal should be seriously considered. But the main point for today: CF is set with Lagares. It should be noted that Andrew Brown has mashed this season, in limited opportunities, and certainly gives the team a right-handed bat on the bench. Maybe even more than that if he ever gets a shot. I was wondering today if Michael Morse, another late bloomer, might be a possible comp for Brown. In very limited play, Brown has hit .274/.322/.464. In Vegas — a crazy environment, granted — he posted .346/.432/.660, which was not that different from his numbers in 2012 (larger sample size).
Brown is in the right role, way in the back of the line. Again, he has a skill, power, but I don’t see him as more than a limited role guy. But he can be on the 25 man, I’m fine with that. I would not re-sign Byrd. It’s been a great run all year with Marlon but he will get a raise. And I still don’t understand how he did this once. When I go to the track and hit on a longshot I don’t double down when the odds drop in his next race. I count my money and move on.
I understand. We don’t know how much he’ll be seeking — but considering the weak buzz generated during the trade deadline, I can’t believe he’ll get more than $6 million for a one-year deal (which sounds like a lot). Would you sign him for $4 million? I can’t pretend to predict the marketplace. But at this point, I don’t see Marlon Byrd completely falling off a cliff, nor do I see anybody investing in more than a year on the guy. Replacing his production will not be easy, unless the Mets go big with Cargo or Stanton, which I just don’t see.
I start pondering the options and my head spins. There’s Corey Hart, back after missing a full season due to a knee injury? He’s a possibility. Spend big money on Choo? A nice player, but he’s hit 15 HRs in the bandbox in Cincinnati, and I doubt the playoff-bound Reds are eager to watch him walk away. Jacoby Ellsbury? Interesting gamble, but at what price? And which Ellsbury do you get? Right now, today, I’m at a loss — while hoping that Puello might be a solution down the road. All the pieces interconnect, though we agree that the Mets need to add a real bat to the lineup, somehow, someway.
I think the Mets must significantly upgrade at shortstop, a position where the team ranks last in the NL in OPS. I have a faint hope they can do big things at first base, but clear hope of improvement. It can’t be much worse. I’m less sure, bordering on confused, about the possibilities in the outfield. Except to say: Let’s begin with the Gold Glove-caliber defense in center, and build out from there.