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.

13 comments on “Mets Spring Training battles to note

  • Dan Stack

    Call me optimistic, but I think this year Parnell will have the job as closer all year long.

    • Name

      Parnell will get the job once Collins is fired. He can’t succeed with Collins running the others into the ground and then asking him to do more than he should be doing.

      • David Groveman

        I don’t think Collins has been to blame for bullpen woes I think this is the first year I’ve seen him with options.

  • Metsense

    Chances of the outfield being good: Flushing in Flushing then flush again as a courtesy flush.
    Not even Michael Bourn could catch the outs that fall in front of Duda.
    As a fan I hope three overachieve but if you believe that then I have a business venture run by a guy named Madoff you can invest in. The best thing about the bullpen is that the outfield is so bad that they are being ignored. This is a depressing way to enter spring training and I have been through all of them. Depressing post but I’ll always say Lets Go Mets!

  • Pete

    After how man years why can’t the Mets draft one legitimate outfielder? Why do they keep drafting DH types and then wind up with no position for them to play? I can see trying to pick the best value but they haven’t addressed their deficiencies in nearly how many years? We are going into 2013 with 3 starters that would be considered 4th outfielders on most teams. How many positions did the Mets play Daniel Murphy? Pitching and defense will always win games even if the offense is lacking. Doesn’t the 2013 version of the Mets outfield remind you of the Oakland A’s?

    • David Groveman

      We traded the only one who has turned into a succesful OF to Minnesota. Reality is, as good as it is to have prospects… they don’t always pan out. Ask Alex Escobar, Lastings Milledge and Francisco Martinez.

  • Scott Mets Fan

    I disagree about Andrew Brown. I think he’s the better option than Byrd. I think Byrd is done. I hope that they find a centerfielder somewhere (Tony Campana or Drew Stubbs?) So they could slide Kirk to right and dump Baxter. He just isn’t that good. Valdespin has no shot as Collins, today, said he’s playing the infield this spring. Lutz has no shot this year. Send him to AAA to play OF everyday and see how these guys play.

    • Name

      I agree with you on Byrd, but i disagree with you on Brown and Baxter.
      I hope what you mean by dumping him from regular playing time and not from the squad. At worst he’s a great pinch hitter and backup OF. Plus he’s young and he’s cheap. I personally think that he could win the RF and leadoff spot vs Righties.

    • David Groveman

      We’ll see, I don’t think I’ve seen Brown enough to have much of an opinion on him.

  • Pete

    Sounds good Scott. I agree but bring Baxter of the bench where he is much better suited for as a 4th outfielder and a defensive replacement for Duda.

  • Jim OMalley

    What about Cesar Puello or Cory Vaughn? Any chance they could help this year? Probably too young still?

    • David Groveman

      Puello and Vaughn will both spend time in AA this year. One or the other might even start the year in A+. If I had to bet on either of them being a success I’d bet on the house.

  • NormE

    Name touched on an important point.
    A great part of the Mets roster make-up is influenced by their Selig-influenced small-market strategy. Thus, especially when dealing with bench players or platoon players, the cheaper the contract the better the chance the player has of sticking.
    Alderson, having been chosen as GM at the urging of Selig, is the perfect one to carry out this strategy. Even if the results are not positive, he is in no danger of being fired. Selig rewards loyalty and the Wilpons are his most loyal subjects.
    The small-market approachis not necessarily a terrible strategy, but it plays into the general feeling that the Wilpons are pinching pennies (for whatever reason). Those who believe that NY is a big-market and its teams should reflect that are very frustrated by this.

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