Chris YoungAs it stands right now, the Mets have themselves a nice outfield that is producing in many different ways.

With free-agent acquisition Curtis Granderson in right, uber-defensive specialist Juan Lagares in center and the speedy Eric Young Jr. in left field, the Mets have a quick, athletic and dynamic outfield. However, Chris Young—the odd man out in this equation—was not signed in the offseason (for a one-year deal worth $7.25 million) to rot on the bench.

Young has reported to Las Vegas after playing in two games at extended spring training. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on April 18.

So what does Terry Collins do when Young is ready to return to the lineup in roughly a week?

Some of the attributes that make Granderson, Young Jr. and Lagares special is their speed, versatility and defensive ability. That is where Young can make a name for himself as well. Let’s not forget why the Mets signed him the first place.

Young has had his share of issues in the past. He has been marred by injuries and is not the greatest contact hitter. He has not hit over .240 since 2010. But, he does have some decent pop; he averaged nearly 20 HR’s home runs between 2007 and 2010. He also is an asset on the basepaths, having accumulated 122 stolen bases in nine seasons.

Each of the aforementioned starting outfielders brings a different niche to the table, though,  and each has a strong case for consistent playing time.

Let’s examine them one by one.

Curtis Granderson

For all his warts (K rate and paltry OBP), Granderson was signed for his ability to hit the long ball and stabilize the clubhouse. Considering he hit 202 home runs in the seven years prior to last year’s injury-shortened season and signed a lucrative four-year deal, he won’t get pushed out of the outfield rotation.

Eric Young Jr.

Young Jr., who was last year’s NL stolen base champ, has started to find his groove of late and is coming off his finest performance of the year in the Mets 6-4 win over the Braves on Thursday night, in which he went 3-5 with a triple, four runs and three stolen bases. If he can get on base at a consistent clip at the top of the order, the Mets will be better off for it. Young Jr. is a bonafide sparkplug and if he can maintain a reasonable OPB, he will be a much valuable asset.

Juan Lagares

The one who has benefited the most while Young has been sidelined is Lagares.

Lagares has once again taken like a fish to water in centerfield, showing off his great range and being one of the game’s most gifted defensive players. It has not been all about defense with Lagares either. He has been quite the revelation at the plate, sporting a very impressive .303/.351/.515 slash line (prior to Friday night’s game) in 33 at-bats. Maybe he won’t keep it up, but you have to keep riding with him, given for what he provides you out on the field.

So, despite him signing a nice deal in the offseason, Young may find himself on the outside looking in when he is eligible to come back.

This is certainly a good problem for Collins to have. To have four exciting, athletically gifted and defensive minded outfielders to move in and out of the lineup will only be beneficial for the Mets. Not to mention, Collins has to also work in Andrew Brown, especially against lefties.

If these players are all committed and on the same page, playing time amongst them should be the least of their problems. These things tend to fix themselves out in the long run.

Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon

14 comments on “Will the eventual return of Chris Young become an issue?

  • Frank

    Young and Granderson blow.

    Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words as it is a violation of our Comment Policy.

  • Brian Joura

    As we’ve seen too many times before, whenever you think you have too many players in one area, you end up needing all of them and more. There’s plenty of PT to go around here and no one should grow cobwebs from lack of use. Outside of an extended injury, all four of these guys should get 100+ games played this year.

    It sounded early in Spring Training as if Lagares was going to get the short end of the stick with playing time. The injury to Young kept that from happening, which I think is a good thing. Lagares earned a starting role last year and it would be wonderful if he kept hitting.

  • Jim OMalley

    Agreed on Lagares….any chance C Young could play first base? Any chance at all?

  • Wilponzi

    too much talent shouldn’t be an issue. If CY plays like in did in spring trainin, they will find a place for him. The Mets biggest problem is getting runners on base. I hate saying this they are not getting walks, or taking pitchers into deep counts. I hate agreeing with the GM, on this point

  • eraff

    This is just Not a Problem! It improves the Bench massively. Add CY…demote Q and Satin… add Cambell and Den Decker. You’d have versatility for double switches…some pop…some speed…. lh and rh bats…. they need more good players who are fighting for time, not less.

  • Wilponzi

    If our so called shortstop, Mr. Tejada, gets hurt who will back him up. Eraff, I know Q is taking up space.

  • jeff posner

    how about keep q demote german from the bullpen add de groon to the pen add cambell demote anoter non working bull pen piece it could work

  • Metsense

    This should not be a problem at all. As Brian pointed out earlier in the year, teams need four good outfielders to be competitive. The problem to me is that TC is not innovative enough, prefers to have a set starting lineup and goes too long with a veteran that may be hurting or slumping. I am not saying to bench a veteran but just sit him more often. Bay was an example of starting adnauseum and I don’t want the same to occur for Granderson. TC can make this an issue, no one else.
    In the case of playing time of Lagares and EY let’s remove the argument of who is the better player since both players have similar career offensive numbers. Instead, let us determine how the manager can maximize each player’s strengths.
    Lagares’ strength is his superior defense. Eric Young”s strength is his superior base running.
    Which does a manager have more control over, base running or defense? In base running, as long as a player is on base, a manager can choose to steal. This speed weapon can be very beneficial late in a game. The manager can choose when he wants to pinch run and when he wants to steal. The manager’s decision can influence the outcome of the game. The manager can control this.
    A great defensive play can occur in any inning and a manager can’t control when a defensive gem will occur that might influence the outcome of the game. An outstanding catch in the second inning or a throw that cuts down a runner in the third inning will reduce the pitch count of the starting pitcher allowing him to remain the game longer. In order to maximize the odds, a manager should have his elite fielder playing the most innings. If both players remain offensively similar throughout the year then I would start Lagares over E Young for this reason.
    There are plenty of opportunities to rest CY and Granderson so there should be plenty of at bats to go around. Only TC can make this an issue and based on his past Met history I feel there is a possibility he will.

  • Chris F

    Let’s also not forget that Lagares has had a solid offense, has come up with some key hits, RBIs, and scored a lot of runs. Lagares is no longer (at this point) a 1D player.

    • Name

      Actually, if you take out his first 2 games, in the 9 games since Lagares has a .257/.289/.286 with a .595 OPS and a .360 BABIP. I would expect a few more extra base hits from Lagares so the slugging could probably be higher, but that’s basically the average and OBP i would predict for Lagares. He’s still probably not more than a .650-.675 OPS guy. At this point he’s still the best option for CF though.

      • Chris F

        That’s fine, but I think there is more to look at. What about delivering the game winning RBI the other day? He’s had a few clutch hits that don’t show up in such numbers. But really count for more than a hit. Keeps a drive alive with a hit and scores. In my mind, those are huge things that never get their proper due.

        • Name

          If you’re going to credit him for that, you’ve got to equally penalize him every time he doesn’t get a hit, such as in the 12th inning yesterday when he struck out with the bases loaded. You can’t just remember what you want to remember and forget the bad stuff.

          • Chris F

            Sure I can. He also leads the team in runs, BA, RBI, and ops. Say anything. You want, at this point in time he has had a number of key hits and leads the offense.

  • Jerry Grote

    Eric Young Jr: .280/.256 five thirty six ops

    While I’m at it …
    Travis D’Arnaud .222/.273 FOUR ninety five
    Ruben Tejada .275/.222 FOUR ninety seven

    We have already used 126 plate appearances – one fifth of a full season – on players that have a combined OPS of under 500. My guess is that the Mets give up easily the 600 plate appearances I suggested a while ago to such a player.

    If anyone thinks for a second that Chris Young doesn’t start and play nonstop for a month the minute he’s available … and what, exactly we are waiting for on Drew is beyond me.

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