How long can the Mets wait on Lucas Duda?

Derek R sent in this e-mail to MetsBlog:

[jbox color=”gray”]Lucas Duda had a very good stretch after the All-Star break in 2011, hitting .322 with 10 HR and a .411 OBP in 64 games and 205 at-bats.  The rest of his career, which is 93 games and 273 at-bats, he is hitting .227 with 8 HR and a far lower OBP. So, what is Duda exactly? I’m a little more pessimistic on him than other Mets fans. How do I know that his second-half performance in 2011 wasn’t just a flash in the pan?   I’m interested to see if he ever picks it up this year because I don’t know how long the Mets want to stick with a .220 hitter who is below average defensively. They may not have any other viable options this year, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start all year. But if he doesn’t turn it around before the end of the year, I have to think the Mets would look at upgraded in the off-season if not before?[/jbox]

Duda is hitting .245 with a .343 OBP 4 HR and 16 RBI in 29 games for the Mets this year.

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Brian Erni: Terry Collins has talked at length about how Duda’s natural tendency is to hit the ball up the middle and to the opposite field. When Collins worked with him as the Mets minor league field coordinator, he, along with others, worked with Lucas on pulling the ball for power, which added a major dimension to his game. However, I think sometimes he focuses too much on it.

When I look at the cold streaks Duda has had during this season, it seems he may have wanted to pull the ball a little too much. One aspect the coaching staff preaches, especially to their big power hitters like Duda and Ike Davis, is that they will get the opportunity to hit their fair share of mistakes. Provided they’re patient and don’t expand the zone, opposing pitchers will hang off-speed stuff or leave a fastball in the middle of the plate. It’s up to them to put a good swing on the ball consistently, and that will lead to home runs.

This year, Duda has struggled at times, but he’s been able to limit the cool streaks with a good eye and a more up-the-middle approach. Provided he stays within himself, the Mets will give him plenty of leeway… and justifiably so.

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Frank Catalanotto: I think Duda will be fine. If he stays up the middle and the other way with his approach he will be in position to hit the hanging mistakes on the inside part of the plate. One of the toughest things for a young hitter is to stay within himself not getting too pull happy. He is going to get the playing time to prove he belongs and this season will be very telling . Some guys make the mental and physical adjustments need to stick around and others don’t. Time will tell and we will see how it plays out, but in my opinion his second half performance of 2011 wasn’t just a flash in the pan.

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Frank Catalanotto is a special contributor to MetsBlog.com. He played 14 seasons in the big leagues and will be offering insight from a player’s perspective.

To learn more about his new book, Heart & Hustle, click here.