If there’s one thing that we’ve learned heading into Year Four of the Sandy Alderson-Terry Collins regime, it’s to take their words with a giant boulder of salt. The biggest area where perhaps we weren’t told the exact truth was in the payroll numbers for previous years. But there have been other instances of doublespeak as well. This past week was a doozy for things that management said that just didn’t make any sense.
Collins indicated that Lucas Duda could be part of an outfield platoon. If you check our archives, you’ll see me as one of the biggest Duda supporters around. But the thought of putting Duda back into the outfield in anything short of an extreme emergency is unfathomable to me, as it should be to anyone with two functioning eyes.
Duda is not an outfielder. No matter how many times one tries to put that particular square peg into a round hole, it’s not going to fit. At this point, there’s more justification for playing Ike Davis in the outfield than there is Duda. Davis may be a lousy outfielder. But we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Duda is a terrible outfielder. So, why would you willingly do that again? The only thing that makes sense is that this is another smokescreen coming from management.
Another recent Collins uttering had Eric Young Jr. as his preferred leadoff man. Yep, the one with the .290 wOBA for the Mets last year. Yep, the one who seems to have lost his job with the signings of Curtis Granderson and Chris Young. Call me crazy but it seems like a difficult thing for Young Jr. to be a leadoff hitter when he’s unlikely to start the majority of the games.
Perhaps as a point of support for the previous idea, Collins also mentioned that new free agent Young will compete with Juan Lagares for the center field job. There may be a mini revolt by the fans if Lagares is not the Opening Day center fielder. After his outstanding job with the glove last year, it’s virtually unthinkable that Lagares has to win a starting job in Spring Training. So, why is our manager suggesting otherwise?
The only thing that makes sense is that they promised Young when they signed him that he would have the opportunity to play center. If so, then perhaps fans aren’t the only ones who shouldn’t believe what management says.
Meanwhile, Alderson wasn’t about to let Collins have all the fun with the off-the-wall quotes. Alderson was quoted in MetsBlog as saying that for the first time, Wilmer Flores participated in an offseason conditioning program. The implication was that getting in shape may help out in his bid to play various positions.
This boggles my mind. Alderson has a reputation of being the smartest guy in the room, one that wouldn’t surprise me a bit if it were true the majority of times. How then could a guy take over a franchise with few impact hitters and not pay special attention to their most heralded batting prospect? How on earth could the Mets not have Flores in a conditioning program before now?
Recall that Flores was signed as a shortstop but was moved off the position for a lack of range.
Alderson indicated that Flores would see some time at short during Spring Training. Some fans have long held out hope that Flores could be the answer at that key defensive position. Perhaps others envision a new Kevin Mitchell, a guy Davey Johnson would spot at short when flyball pitcher Sid Fernandez was on the mound.
That’s an interesting idea. It should be pointed out that Jonathon Niese and Jenrry Mejia both have a groundball rate over 50% while the average mark is around 45%. The other three pitchers have groundball rates in the low 40s. That is below average but not quite in the territory of Fernandez or especially Daisuke Matsuzaka.
It’s hard to imagine that a guy who many doubt can play second base in the majors could somehow handle shortstop on a semi-regular basis. But even if he could – Would you want one of your top hitting prospects sitting on the bench 40% of the time or playing every day in the minors?
At least that is something on which reasonable people can disagree. Contrast that with the goofy idea that Duda should spend more scheduled time in the outfield in 2014. On that basis, Collins wins this week’s outrageous management claim.