The New York Mets Need an Outfielder

I am ever the optimist. When I look at my team before the season starts I can make any negative look like a positive and any positive look like an advantage over more powerful teams. I struggle in looking for those positives when I look at the New York Mets outfield.

The outfield has lacked any star power since the trade of Carlos Beltran and even with a lack of star power they are struggling to produce at a mediocre talent level. Let’s take a look at the most likely starters for the 2013 season.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Also known as “Captain Kirk”, the captain started out by pleasantly surprising most fans. He patrolled center field after Andre Torres suffered an injury on opening day and didn’t relinquish the spot for a couple of months. His plate discipline was sparked caution as he was striking out at a high rate but his OPS was .861 in the month of April. The strong start was one of the many reasons the Mets were able to contend early in the season. Strikeouts and an inability to hit lefties would become the downfall of Nieuwenhuis as his numbers would gradually drop until he was sent to the minors in late July.

Lucas Duda: “The Dude” showed a ton of promise toward the second half of the 2011 season. He was able to hit with power and got on base, evidenced by his .900 OPS over the last three months of the season. Duda wasn’t able to find that magic in the 2012 season as he was moved into a full-time role in right field, and not only struggled to cover any ground, but struggled to connect at the plate. The reason why he was started was to provide some pop for the middle of the lineup, but he was horrific in the power department. In his 401 at bats he had a slugging percentage of .389, an OPS of .718, and a -1.4 WAR.

Mike Baxter: We’re all going to remember what Baxter did for Johan Santana and his no-hitter but that isn’t going to get the Mets a World Series. What the play did do was represented what kind of person Baxter is and the intangibles that he brings to the team. Baxter started out the season on the bench and became one of the best pinch-hitters in the league. He was soon thrust into a starting role when Jason Bay went down with an injury. He excelled in his brief opportunity to start as he hit well and showed a propensity to get on base. After crashing into the wall to catch a fly ball that helped preserve Santana’s no-hitter, Baxter missed about two months of action. He struggled in his limited at bats against lefties but showed a good eye at the plate as he had a .365 OBP by the end of the season.

The outfield has an average age of 26 so they are early in their development, but none have ever been highly touted prospects. Their potential and ability to start every day are very much in question. Not knowing how reliable these players will be has pushed the Mets into trade talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks of acquiring the OF Justin Upton. Upton would be a huge boost to the outfield’s credence and would provide the Mets with another young star to pair with both Ike Davis and David Wright. The only issue is with the Mets willingness to part with top end prospects, such as Zach Wheeler and newly acquired Travis d’Arnaud.

If the Mets don’t go for Upton they are really limited if they decide to find a starting outfielder. The rumbling in the New York media is that OF Scott Hairston is still a possibility, but he would be only effective in a platoon role with one of the three left-handed hitting outfielders. His ability to tear up lefties was a great benefit for the Mets last year, but they need a legitimate starter to give more depth to the lineup. Coco Crisp could make sense for his speed atop the lineup and his solid defensive play. Being a switch hitter is always a plus but the only problem is his average ability to get on base. If the Mets could swing an affordable deal to bring him to NY it would make sense for them to pull the trigger. With all of the other troubles that the Mets face, the most glaring is the outfield and what they are willing to spend to make it respectable.

Back to the New York Mets Newsfeed