The question above is pretty straight forward, but there are other factors which will either hinder or help Andrew Brown’s case to become a part of the Mets’ right field solution. For starters, the Mets signed Chris Young this off-season with the expressed commitment that he will have substantial playing time. What exactly that playing time means, and how long of a leash Young will have should he stumble out of the gate, are plans only Sandy Alderson and his trusted circle know. Then there is the up-and-coming Matt den Dekker who could either force Juan Lagares into right field or go there himself. There are a myriad of other possibilities that could have Brown seeing some time in right for the Mets in 2014. But does that make him a viable option?
In 2013, Brown had 165 plate appearances and hit .227/.288/.400 with 7 home runs, 24 RBI, 13 walks and 44 strikeouts. Those aren’t exceptional numbers. August was by far his best month, as he went .357/.386/.571 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI in 44 plate appearances. Those are more in line with what Brown was used to putting up in Triple-A the past three years. In 248 Triple-A games since 2011 between Memphis, Colorado Springs, and Las Vegas, Brown had a collective .313/.393/.586, with 51 home runs, 212 RBI, and 60 doubles. No one is suggesting that Brown is going to put up All-Star numbers, but the drop-off from Triple-A to the majors is so drastic, that there has to be something in play. If regular playing time is the organization’s cure for Young, why wouldn’t that same cure work for Brown? Unfortunately, there’s only so much cure to go around.
Brown has never proven himself at the major league level, and that is the major difference between he and Young. The latter is only two years removed from 89 runs, 20 home runs, 22 stolen bases, and 71 RBI. He can do it, the only question is if can he do it again. Meanwhile Brown is still struggling to find a permanent role on this team, and has the likes of Lagares and den Dekker breathing down his neck. That might work to the Mets advantage. Jeremy Hefner, fearing a demoting to Triple-A, pitched some of the best baseball in the majors last year. If Brown finds an opportunity in 2014 and can run with it, he can force himself into the lineup on a more regular basis.
Right field is very similar to first base for the Mets; too many options and none of them good enough at the present moment. The theory goes that if multiple guys are in the hunt for one position, the best player will win the job. But how long can the Mets try and find players through this process? If there is no solution at first or right for the Mets in June or July, are they going to give up young arms to acquire stars at those positions? My guess is no, but this game of Who’s Playing Today can’t go on forever.
We can only judge Brown by what we saw from him last year. He had great moments, surrounded by more-prolonged inadequacy. Unfortunately Brown signifies a bigger dilemma for the Mets. He’s a Quadriple-A player on a team filled with Quadruple-A talent. Brown has the ability to succeed, but there is no foreseeable way he’s going to play 100 games in 2014. If fact, the more Brown plays in 2014, the worse the Mets’ record will probably be at that point. So is Brown a viable option? Yes and no. Yes, he can play the position well enough and if he were given a full season to display his talent, his stats suggest he can put up at least league-average numbers, if not better. No, because he’ll never get the time needed there, and that’s the overall problem. “There’s too many men, too many people, making too many problems.”