Aimless in the Outfield: The Mets are going into Spring Training with a number of relative question marks in the outfield. No… there will be no Michael Bourn nor will there be Jason Borrne or Ozzy Osbourne but there will be plenty of speculation, misdirection and if we’re lucky… Duda might bite the head off a bat.
Lucas Duda: For the sake of argument, let us say that Duda is the given commodity in the Met outfield. He’s the guy who has a 98.5% chance of making the opening day roster. The news around Duda is good. He’s looking recovered from his wrist issues and is working closely with the hitting coaches to lessen his pre-swing movement. The results are apparently good, but he’s yet to test this “Good-ness” in a game-time scenario. I’m actually feeling good vibes about Duda. I think he’ll find a home in left field and it will be a matter of finding a centerfield compliment that can cover the ground that “The Dude” just can’t abide. (Chances of Flushing: Almost Assured)
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: He is one of the few names who mixes the ability to actually play a respectable CF with a ceiling of talent around an MLB center fielder. The issue is that he’s got the body of a corner outfielder and isn’t a natural fit for his position. As long as he doesn’t get hurt or make a ton of errors I’d say it’s a long-shot for him not to make the big-league club. (Chances of Flushing: Very Good)
Collin Cowgill: If Duda is 98.5%, Cowgill is 98% likely to make the team behind him. Now… Cowgill might not be the starter, but I believe firmly that he’s got a role on the team as the starting CF or 4th OF. (Chances of Flushing: Almost Assured)
Mike Baxter: I read a post complaining about Baxter’s speed in relation to letting Flores patrol the outfield. If you think that Baxter would not beat Flores in a race… please get your eyes checked. Baxter is NOT much more than a 4th/5th OF and while I think he could break camp with a platoon role in right I don’t think he’s much more than an 80% lock for making the team. (Chances of Flushing: Very Good)
Jordany Valdespin: What Baxter and Cowgill lack in potential Valdespin makes up for in lack of discipline and experience. In other words if we were picking based on talent alone… he’s our man. He’s got the legs to steal bases and patrol anywhere in the outfield and he even displayed a new whacky talent for drawing walks in the AFL so Valdespin could force his way onto the team from a sheer talent perspective, but he’s just learning the outfield now and I would bet he’s destined to at least START the year in Las Vegas. (Chances of Flushing: Mediocre)
Marlon Byrd: Someone who hasn’t gotten a TON of publicity is Byrd, who has decent talent and could be a good platoon mate for a lefty. I don’t know about Byrd playing center but he can also play the infield and that flexibility helps him. (Chances of Flushing: Pretty Good)
Matthew Den Dekker: Chances are good that Den Dekker would need to hit around .400 and strikeout significantly less than his career numbers to earn a chance to play in Queens to open the season. The biggest feather in Den Dekker’s cap is that he’s the BEST fielding center fielder who is fighting for a role. I believe that a few months in Vegas would be good for him. (Chances of Flushing: Not So Good)
Andrew Brown: Brown is a candidate that I like his chances less and less as Spring Training approaches. Sure… he’s a righty. Sure… he has power. Sure… he plays the outfield. BUT! He doesn’t play center and would be stuck sharing time in left and right. His limited flexibility makes him a mediocre option at best. (Chances of Flushing: Mediocre)
Zach Lutz: Lutz in the outfield? (Side note: Does anyone else see the 30 Rock character when they hear his name?) That guy who complained about Baxter’s speed probably would have a point on Lutz. I mean, Lutz vs. Flores might be like watching Robin Ventura in a footrace with John Olerud. Ventura would win but you wouldn’t be impressed. Lutz has the most power (after Duda) of the candidates and has the ability to back up both Wright and Davis. Collins seems committed to giving him a try but I can’t see it. (Chances of Flushing: Probably Not)
Corey Patterson and Jamie Hoffmann: The expiration dates on their potential have passed and I don’t see them succeeding in the majors. Terry Collins mentioned players “Just wanting a chance”… well… I guess these guys have that. (Chances of Flushing: About a Snowball’s in Southern Florida)
A Tale of Three Closers: The Mets have Frank Francisco sidelined by injury, Brandon Lyon (who doesn’t want to steal the closers role) and Bobby Parnell (who does). The sense I’m getting is that Parnell will be the closer and if he fails he has Francisco and Lyon in the wings to pick up the slack. If Parnell fails in the closer role I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he never will.
Murphy’s Law: Daniel Murphy earned the role of starter with a solid (not phenomenal) 2012. The only things people will be watching out for are: Reese Havens being healthy again and perhaps getting his final shot to make his case for a future and Wilmer Flores being trotted around as a potential FUTURE STAR at the position. Now, I still love Havens’ swing and I think that Flores could be a Robinson Cano-like offensive second baseman. The reality is that Havens will probably fall short or get hurt and that Flores probably can’t hack it at the position. So… Murphy is the obvious choice for 2013 and probably 2014 as well.