How will the outfield shape up at the beginning of the season?

Michael Baron, Contributor

On Sunday, Terry Collins suggested to reporters only Eric Young Jr. and Chris Young are being considered as the team’s leadoff hitter heading into the regular season.

Collins said, if Juan Lagares is the center fielder, Chris Young would be the leadoff hitter and left fielder. Otherwise, Eric Young Jr. would be the everyday left fielder hitting in the leadoff spot, with Chris Young in center.

“It’s going to be a tough call,” Collins said on Sunday. “We know what Juan is defensively — he’s as good a center fielder as there is. But we’ve gotta take a look at both sides of the baseball. We’ve gotta make sure we can do something about producing some runs. We can’t have a lot of holes.”

No matter what, it’s highly likely Lagares will be on the active roster when camp breaks later this month (Rubin, March 9).


USATSI_7775686_110579513_lowres


Eric Young Jr. certainly has shown glimpses of being a quality leadoff hitter. I love his speed and his potential to transform the lineup and disrupt games on the base paths. However, he is probably best suited as a fourth outfielder or utility infielder. Otherwise – as was the case last year – he runs the risk of being overexposed.

On the flip side, there might be just as many questions about Lagares. He swung at way too many pitches outside the strike zone last year and he needs to get on-base more frequently. He did show promise in the Dominican League this past winter, but the regular season is a different animal.

However, his ability to take runs away from the opposition with his glove might outweigh his offensive deficiencies. Team insiders acknowledged the value of outfield defense during the off-season, especially at Citi Field and the other big ballparks in the division. I agree, and I ultimately believe Lagares has a greater ability to contribute towards winning – with his defense alone – than any other current centerfield option on the 40-man roster.

I have to believe the Mets will value Lagares’ superior defense to what Eric Young Jr. might be able to contribute offensively. Lagares, flanked by Chris Young and Curtis Granderson, form one of the best defensive outfields in baseball. If winning is as important as people within the organization say it is, then putting the best combination out there, which plays to the strengths of their ballpark, should be the top priority.




60 comments
rstpigeon
rstpigeon

Lagares is the youngest of the lot and needs the major-league plate appearances to become whatever it is he will be. Defense is paramount in Citi Field and I have to believe that, unless there's a sophomore slump, Lagares is the way to go. There is hope that he'll get better.


The rose-colored glasses through which this team is viewing Chris Young completely baffles me. His career never took off. EYJ is a platoon player/ backup - that's it. Wish he was more, but he isn't. Neither of these players is likely to blossom into something they haven't become already.


Go with youth and go with hope. Cut the drama and groom Lagares to be the starter.


Same with the pitching, groom Mejia to be the #5, this year, and keep the others in reserve.

anymos
anymos

I laughed when I read 'we can't have too many holes.'  Neither outfielder is that great of a hitter, might as well play the vastly superior defender.  Plus we still don't have a starting SS or firstbaseman- I'd say we have too many holes no matter who is in the OF.

dabo
dabo

So Ike Davis and Lucas Duda had to prove themselves this spring while getting around 90 -100 ab's.  Both are "hurt" and haven't played in over 1 week.  What does that tell you about the toughness of this team when 2 players won't "suck it up" and fight for a spot on the roster?  Ditch both these bums and start over.  

When does Drew sign because Tejada is done!  Another player who had to prove himself and has hit nothing and committed 3 errors already, wow!





Patrick Boegel
Patrick Boegel

No matter where you put Eric Young on the field there are two things he is not.  He is not his father, and not a leadoff hitter.  He is a pinch runner and utility guy.  End of story.  This is putting the largest square in the smallest of round holes.


The Mets had four months to figure out they did not have a leadoff hitter, and the end result is trying to imagine a guy who is a career .325 OBP with zero pop to offset that as the one.  Sheesh.

Debra Goldberg
Debra Goldberg

I don't get it. This "problem" has a very easy solution. Put Murphy at first and EYJ at second and poof. Alls good in the outfield

Doug Hoey
Doug Hoey

One again, Baron writes nothing original. There is nothing new in anything that's said in this piece just like most of his other "borrowed thoughts" opines. I am begging him to explain to the people who read this website why he has a job here. As a matter of fact I throw out a challenge to Captain Obvious- you write something about the Mets and I'll write something about the Mets. Then we'll let whoever you want compare the pieces in order to decide which one has more in depth knowledge of the team, its weaknesses, strengths, and needs. This doesn't even have to be done publicly if your concern is that I'm just trying to gain attention. All I insist is that the loser congratulates the winner publicly on this site. My email is callmesomeone@gmail.com. I await your acceptance of the Pepsi Porch Challenge

Brian Webster
Brian Webster

I guess TC's only qualification to hit leadoff is a good 40 time

ken1010
ken1010

With what we have (no Choo), I'd rather have CY hitting leadoff, with Lagares in center.  It's not like EY is an on-base machine.  He's not much better, and the defense would be worse.

On second thought, maybe hit Murphy leadoff, with d'Arnaud hitting second, like LaDuca did.  These are the two most likely to hit singles and get on base, given their history.


Jose Rolon
Jose Rolon

strikes out too much . Give Juan chance .

Anthony T. Marra
Anthony T. Marra

How about play Eric Young JR at SS? have a lineup like this: 1. EYJR, SS 2. Murphy, 2B 3. Wright, 3B 4. Granderson RF 5. Davis/Duda/Satin, 1B 6. d'Arnaud, C 7. Lagres, CF 8. Pitcher 9. CY LF. or flip lagres and CY. IF Eric can play SS I say we have our team set until Tejada re-finds himself or Eric/Chris goes on a bad slump.

hashburry
hashburry

This team isn't going to score many runs.

chasesimms
chasesimms

Everything's going to be ok here.   They're starting to "think like winners."

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

Can someone from the front office explain to TC that EYJ was one of the worst offensive regulars in baseball last year?

Shawn R. Babcock
Shawn R. Babcock

C.Young-Lagares-Granderson...with Collins trying to shove EY in mid-game constantly. They want EY in the game and leading off so bad. It's frustrating that the Mets can't get out of their own way and even do the things they want to do.

Peter Simon
Peter Simon

How about a simple platoon in left....Chris Young against lefties....his splits are quite pointed in that direction....oh, I forgot, SA "promised" him to be a regular....oh well....just a though. If Lagares keeps up his hitting, and gets a bit more selective, maybe HE could lead off.....I'm really starting to dislike even the sound of the word Tejada!  

kefhrny17
kefhrny17

Eff the outfield, what about the infield??

MMIAA
MMIAA

I see there is nothing new here. Baron has the same pic with the same shirt and the same ridiculous stuff repeated here.

sell
sell

This shouldn't be a conversation.  The fact that it is being debated is troubling.

Chad Michael
Chad Michael

Lagares needs to start in Center, hands down.  We all know he will provide Gold Glove defense and save this team runs but I have been impressed with his offense in camp this year.  Obviously this way the biggest question mark with Lagares.   Now is he where he needs to be offensively, no of course not, but I think it is evident that he is making strides and improving.  In that case he needs to start and we need to see if he can continue to improve.  

gloveman
gloveman

why do we have to hear every day how terry is limiting the future young core of players? What kind of manager is this guy? 

matt520
matt520

I want to see Lagares playing everyday, I am impressed by him and think he can develop into a useful offensive player while playing gold glove D.

I think EY could be a really useful bench player, get him some reps a 2nd and he can be a utility player/speed off the bench.

grillruben
grillruben

How are you going to bat a career .235 hitter leadoff!! How is that logical? Let's be realistic here. Chris Young is a guy we brought in with the hopes he can hit 20 plus hr's, and because we jumped the gun in free agency. His ceiling is .240 25-30 hr's and that is being incredibly generous. Is that a guy you want hitting leadoff?     My biggest issue is the direction this team is actually going in, opposed to the moves they are actually making. We get it, Harvey is hurt and 2014 was always a pipe dream in terms of legitimately being able to compete for a WS. So, are we rebuilding and getting ready to actually contend for a change, or are we just lucky enough to have fallen into some good young arms due to two desperate teams and just treading water until that situation works itself out?Because if we are rebuilding and trying to win in 2015 there is no logic to giving a 30 year old who hasn't done anything decent since 2011 a 1 year deal and batting him leadoff.     What is the best case scenario playing him over Lagares? Let's say Young has a turnaround year and hits .250, 30 hr's. Are we going to pony up the $ for him next off-season? Is he worth that risk even if he's solid in '14, given his inconsistent career?  Then you have the people that say "trade him at the deadline". Well what are you getting for Chris Young at the deadline that is helping us in '15? A reliever? Guess who you could have just signed for 2 years 12 mil? Grant Balfour. And you could have given Lagares another year of playing experience.     In 2015 we on paper should have 4 young 1-2 caliber starters under team control, dirt cheap contracts. I'm perfectly fine accepting this year as the last year of rebuilding, but if that's the case then let the future get some experience. Let's see what Puello can do, let's see if Mejia is for real, heck let's even see if Wilmer can play some short. Because if he can't he has no future with the Mets.     We are a NY based team playing in a brand new stadium, with the fortune of having 4 young stud pitchers under team friendly contracts for the next couple of years. Can we act like it?! Rant over.

Brent Moody
Brent Moody

There is a lot of talk that that Seattle has multipule scouts at all mets spring ( not sure if true or not) but if it is I think after the next round of starts and all pitchers throwing a deal could be had. HOWEVER with the crap way our SS have performed so far Seattle has us over the barrel and is gonna ask for a Ton!!!

Phil Mancini
Phil Mancini

Chris Young is being considered as the team’s leadoff hitter? Was it his .280 OBP last year that  impressed Mats management? 

Dana Smith
Dana Smith

I dont think Lagares gets enough credit. Hes still young, and a full year in the major leagues playing almost every day is going to be the best way to see what he can do.If he can adjust, he'll be fine offensively.

Joseph Baffi
Joseph Baffi

calm down largares aint trout he has glove but his bat is horrible  I rather ey and his speed  and  his glove aint so bad

jongonz718
jongonz718

the fact that lagares is even in question about starting is a joke in itself...we signed chris young for i don't know what reason but he's here now...start him, have ey come off the bench or platoon with him.

Major Pain 0303
Major Pain 0303

If u talk to scouts Lagares's defense is so good it outweighs his offense. Pitchers like seeing a guy out there that can erase mistakes. Calms them down. Keep him where he is.

Mike Dell Italia
Mike Dell Italia

cy lagares grandy is your outfield, ey is on the bench. Period.

metswave
metswave

I really don't like t.c at all. C.young should be right fielder and juan in center point blank. Granderson in left.since he been hired not 1 time have I like any of his ideas. Smfh

Steven Gilchrist
Steven Gilchrist

Yay, chris young lead off can't wait to see what he does at the top of the lineup with sub .300 OBP.

mike23
mike23

Yeah, the concern is SS and 1b not the outfield. Chris Young will play LF, Lagares in Center and Granderson in RF. 


Sandy has to find away to improve SS and 1b before the season begins or this will be another long year for the mets. 

NYISLES
NYISLES

I am more concerned about SS and 1B! The OF is fine.

The Feels band
The Feels band

@Doug Hoey  Hahahaha. Yes, we're all waiting with baited breath at the incredible premise of DOUG HOEY vs MICHAEL BARON. Who could possibly give a toss? Go drink some coffee and try to get your D wet. 

Bud Britton
Bud Britton

@ken1010 bad idea. 

First, too much pressure on the kid in his rookie year to do something he isn't projected to do, advance runners. This is a spot for a bat control, bunt guy who can regularly put the ball in play to the right side while not getting doubled off. Let him play his gap to gap game for a while before trying this experiment. It is a totally different mind set and I don't want the guy calling the majority of each game worrying about changing his entire offensive strategy.


Second, unless you have game changing power like Piazza, I don't want my catcher getting that many at extra at bats during the course of the season. Let's keep his legs and mind fresh in his first full campaign instead of having him hit the wall a month earlier.


Third, it isn't the best idea going into the season knowing that every 3 or 4 games that your lineup is going to be juggled because you now need someone to plug into the 2 hole. I get it, they are supposed to be professionals, but anything from comfort to superstition could mess a guy up and send them into a tailspin owing to a change in their regular program. Part of what makes these guys click at this level is following a routine, don't mess with it.

tullers
tullers

And Lagares doesn't?  I've watched him chase pitches that were too low for gophers to swing at.  Lagares is a gifted a fielder but a miserable batter, not that Chris Young is any better.  I'd rather see den Dekker out there, excellent fielder and a better bat.

hashburry
hashburry

@BringBackDaveTelghe  So was Chris Young.  But hey, Legares clearly hasn't proven to TC that he too can be on eof the worst hitters in the league.

Shawn R. Babcock
Shawn R. Babcock

@Peter Simon they are not going to mess with Chris Young. That's the vibe I get, anyway. They want this to be a big bounce-back year for C.Young. Honestly, I don't know what to do. Except maybe move Ike and Duda for just about anything, play Murph at 1st, and put EY at second. I know EY hasn't looked great there, but the Mets want to play him. I believe EY could be a good, full-time lead-off hitter and swipe a lot of bags (that's about it), so it could work out. I've been a big Ike believer...but the window is closing. No more time for hiccups or excuses.


Tejada has got to go. That's for certain. His upside is so small.

Shawn R. Babcock
Shawn R. Babcock

@kefhrny17 Yeah, I'm really worried the Mets will try and stick with Tejada for far too long as he hits .211 and makes errors in the field. That kind of SS play is unacceptable. They need to act. That position can't be a black hole.

anymos
anymos

@grillruben Regarding your point on who the Mets could get in a trade for CY if he has a career year- just take a look at the trade we made with Pittsburgh for Byrd.  I'd take Vic Black and Dilson Herrera over Balfour at 2 years $12M any day.

Opti-Mets-tic
Opti-Mets-tic

@Jaime  Fangraphs has a chart, for a "rule of thumb" rating for OBP. And, so far this Spring Training, Juan Lagares' OBP is considered "great". (.388). 

His OBP in Winter League ball was .379. (Also considered great). 

As most good trolls will point out, Spring Training, and Winter League stats don't matter, what matters is that he was not a highly rated prospect. I disagree with them but, so far, I think Juan is doing great, and is making it awfully tough for TC and Sandy to send him to Vegas for March 31st.

metstastic
metstastic

This is not the people's blog. It's Matt's blog and he can write whatever opinion he wants!

dabo
dabo

@The Feels @dabo  yes suck it up aren't they playing for a position?  What would you rather stay hurt till the last week and the first one to get a hit gets the position, please give me a break.   

nymetsrule
nymetsrule

@metstastic No, he can write whatever opinion the Mets tell him to write. He doesn't own this site anymore.