Barring any trades, the Mets know that they will head into the season with Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan as their everyday outfield. What remains to be seen is who will open in centerfield: Beltran or Pagan?
However, another issue facing the Mets is who will be the forth outfielder? Do the Mets look internally, presumably power-hitting prospect Lucas Duda, or do they look elsewhere?
After not offering Chris Carter arbitration, the Mets have a need for a fourth outfielder. Within the Met’s fan base, you’ll get varying opinions on who should be the team’s primary backup outfielder.
Duda’s name has prominently been at the center of those talks. However, Duda may be best served by starting off 2011 in the minors.
Duda is a 6-5, 240-lb. lefty-swinging outfielder who was drafted out of USC in the 2007 amateur draft. Duda made his debut in September and elicited mixed reviews upon his call up.
Make no mistake, Duda has raw potential and the ceiling remains high for the slugging outfielder. But, his game would be best suited if he starts out in the minors than with the big club as the fourth outfielder. Much the same way Jenrry Mejia should not have been part of last season’s initial bullpen, Duda should not be on the roster because his talents could be put to better use in Buffalo.
Duda had a rude welcoming to the big leagues. Duda struggled out of the gate and went 1 for 33 in his first 13 games. However, Duda surged toward the end of the season and hit 16 for his last 51. Duda wound up finishing the season barely above the Mendoza line (.202 avg.) with four home runs and 13 RBI’s in 84 at-bats.
With the beginning that Duda had, it’s obvious that he needs a little more seasoning. The Mets should not stunt his growth by having him languish on the bench.
Duda’s minor league stats suggest that he can be a formidable OPS hitter, a poor-man’s Adam Dunn if you will. Between Binghamton and Buffalo, Duda hit an impressive .304 and smashed 23 HR’s to go with 87 RBI’s last season. His OBP and OPS were a dazzling .398 and .967, respectively.
Sure, at age 25, Duda is not going getting any younger, but he should not start the team as the fourth outfielder, as chances are he will likely be with the team by the end of 2011 anyway.
With Beltran’s name firmly entrenched in trade rumors, Duda’s chances to be with the club in 2011 seem promising. There is a very real possibility that Beltran can be traded near the deadline, paving the way for Duda to be the Mets fixture in right field.
The bottom line is Duda is probably the fourth-best outfielder for the Mets, but once the Mets break camp in April, Duda should start off in Buffalo. When a trade or an injury occurs, Duda will be there to call up and invigorate the club, much the same way Ike Davis did last year.