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.

For now, Met fans should be okay with nabbing a free-agent, like a Fred Lewis, ReEd Johnson or a Scott Podsednik.

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.

15 comments on “Where does Duda fit in Mets’ 2011 plans?

  • Mike Koehler

    It’s hard to look at his overall average that seriously after he started SO poorly.

    Still, I agree with you that he needs regular at bats and those can be found in AAA. He’ll probably get called up at some point and hopefully can prove he can crush MLB pitching and not be exposed in the field.

  • mike

    Love the Mets.

  • Ben Dover

    Duda does not belong on the Mets. Toby Hyde didn’t have Duda is the top 41 Mets prospects last year. Yes, he finally produced some power stats at AA and AAA last year. Of hs 23 HR’s last year, 17 came at Buffalo. He hit only 6 at Binghamton in the first “half” of the year (more like third). But he only hit 9 HR at Binghamton the previous season (2009) and only 11 at St. Lucie the year before that.

    He was recalled from the Minors last year to determine whether or not the Mets should protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

    He’s 25 years old and most agree he should go back to AAA. Please don’t give me that “late bloomer” non sense.

    He is best suited to play DH or better yet, in a arc pitch softball league.

    He just isn’t any good.

    • Graham

      he’s a late bloomer, and you’re a hater.

      • stick

        the only thing that really bloomed late was his HR power. Even bofore 2010, he was showing excellent OBP, K/BB rates, etc. IOW, he was a complete hitter, controlling the strike zone, using all fields. All things you really want to see in a young hitter in the minors.

        It just happened to be that he was a huge guy, so he did not “look” the part. I remember reading that he had a wrist injury back in college that took a while to heal, but while it did he adopted a more line drive/opposite field approach. And even after he was fully recovered, he just stayed with the approach. All he really did last season was learn to turn on and crush balls in the zone. Bingo, HR and slg% took a jump.

        and thankfully, he did not sell out (with his natural smooth stroke and power, he did not need to) and maintained the great peripherals.

        so yeah, a late bloomer, but no indication that he is a fluke either. Keith and Ralph also raved about his swing last year, another good sign that he isn’t a Jacobs like MiL flash in the pan hacker.

        I am not worried about him hitting. But, better to start in AAA to work on playing OF every day, to get ready for an almost inevitable call up.

        for the 4th OF, evans can cover that, along with a guy like Pridie or someone similar that they can pick up during ST.

        • Marcos

          Duda has 30hr potential. He would be ideal in Lf and move Bay who proved to be quite the capable OF in RF.

          • Kevin

            Nick Evans, who can play the OF and corner IF positions, was perpetually in Manuel’s doghouse. He ended up with an over .300 BA in limited AB’s. At the time of Dan Murphy’s callup, Minaya was actually touting Evans as the player with more potential. So, unless Evans flops in the Spring, he should be the 4th OF.

            Regardless of Duda’s poor start, he can hit with excellent power potential, but he should start in Buffalo to get his AB’s. Just as there was a great deal of criticism of Bay’s fielding ability prior to his arrival, Duda’s fielding potential is probably underrated as well.



  • Dan Stack

    I truly believe he is a late-bloomer too. That’s why I want Duda to develop just a tad more in Buffalo before getting another call up.

  • Larry Smith

    I agree with those who say that Duda needs to play at AAA rather than be on the Mets’ bench. What is most impressive about Duda is his pretty swing. A large man like that with a good swing like that has the potential to put up big major league numbers. I do think his best position might be firstbase and I doubt that the Mets would choose to trade Ike Davis to make room for Lucas Duda. So the scenarios would be that Duda could be traded if he is doing great at AAA or he can come up and play if Ike or one of the OFers goes down with an injury.

    • Bruce H

      Larry knows what he is talking about. I agree 100% Sweet Swing and better suited for 1B defensively. Stay in AAA till we unload Beltran,than bring him up to backup at 1B and OF

  • Kevin

    This is actually all good. Problems of needing to find a place to play for someone from the Mets Minor League system have been few and far between the last several years.

  • dave g.

    Yup, it makes sense to have Evans in the mix, because he can play both corner spots, plus fill in for Davis at first on occasion. He’s earned his shot to have a full season with the team, even as a role player. But, it wouldn’t hurt to have speed guy like Fred Lewis or Reed Johnson that specialize in center, of course.

  • Bob G.

    Let’s wait until spring training and see what happens. I agree with the author that the starting outfield line-up includes Bay, Beltran and Pagan, but what if one of them just doesn’t have it, or gets injured. I think that the Murphy experiment at second base is a bad idea. He will be on the bench as the “fourth outfielder”, unless he wins his job back from Ike Davis. I believe that Lucas Duda’s career will be best served by a full, productive, season in Buffalo. The Mets can then trade him for a quality AAA league pitcher.


    Lucas Duda snaps a tie with Ron Hunt in 1963 and John Olerud in 1997 with 14 hit-by-pitches, the most in single-season #Mets history.

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