Fear Beyond The Edge Of The Grass: Searching For The ‘Mets’ Outfield In 2013
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Monday January 21st, 2013
Stephon Johnson ( Baseball Writer and Mets Correspondent): Follow @stephonjohnson8
New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson has every right to not be happy.
Speaking on local New York sports talk radio station WFAN, Alderson didn’t try to delude himself or others into thinking that the 2013 Mets campaign wouldn’t induce at least several headaches.
“I’m not happy where we are in preparation for 2013,” said Alderson about the current roster assembled. “… I can assure you that where we are now is not where we want to be opening spring training. I mean, it’s conceivable we could be in the same position, but it’s not where we want to be.”
This can particularly be directed toward the outfield. With several options for the Mets to check out, it’s baffled many how a Major League franchise wouldn’t have at least a slight idea what kind of starting lineup they could field on opening day.
Scott Hairston Interview in 2012:
Option one remains the one and only Scott Hairston. Coming off a season where he hit a career-high 20 Home Runs, played in a career-high 134 games and came close to career highs in hits (99) and RBI (57), familiarity might work in the Mets favor especially when it comes to guaranteeing playing he wouldn’t get elsewhere.
Option two could’ve been Dewayne Wise. The veteran outfielder (known for his famous catch that preserved one of Mark Buerhle’s perfect games) had bounced from team to team in recent years and could’ve also been lured by playing time. Last year, Wise (between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox) hit a total of 8 HRs, 30 RBI, stole 19 bases, batted .259 with a .293 OBP. While it wouldn’t have been ideal, the Mets are now the newly-single drunk during closing time: they just need a warm body. But Wise re-signed with the White Sox for 2013 so that option’s dead.
Option three: Ryan Sweeney. While he didn’t see much playing time on a bad Boston Red Sox team in 2012 due to injury, Sweeney’s one real full season in the Major Leagues (with the 2009 Oakland Athletics) resulted in a .293 Batting Average, a .348 On-Base Percentage, a 100 OPS+ and 142 hits. These are all things that the Mets could desperately use and it wouldn’t help to add something resembling depth to the outfield.
But all signs point to Hairston, yet Alderson didn’t guarantee re-signing him when speaking on the WFAN and doesn’t know if he would sign anyone if an outfield option could be found within the organization. Alderson is the only General Manager in baseball that hasn’t awarded a Major League Contract to a Free Agent this winter.
All of this is made more topsy-turvy by how much better the Mets’ outfield looks. With First Baseman Ike Davis and Third Baseman David Wright penciled in for 20-HRs and 80-plus RBI (not to mention average to above average defense), the steady and consistent Ruben Tejada at Shortstop and Daniel Murphy (aka Dave Magadan Part Deux) at Second Base, the Mets infield can safely be called professional hitters and defenders.
With a projected starting outfield of Lucas Duda (who UZR has in the top 5 for worst defenders over the past three seasons with Matt Kemp, Carlos Quentin, Mark Reynolds and Chris Johnson) in Left Field, Collin Cowgill and Kirk Nieuwenhuis set to platoon out in Center Field – and a whole lot of nothing in Right Field (Mike Baxter), the Mets are slowly becoming a bizarre version of their 1999/2000 selves without the bullpen or bench to match. Alderson couldn’t come up with an option at Right Field himself on WFAN.
“We’ve got … um, um, a couple of people there, but nobody that would be a headliner for us at this point,” he said on the station.
The Mets could’ve also used someone like Rick Ankiel who would not have cost much to sign, but they’ve missed that boat. Reports have him receiving a spring training invite with the Houston Astros. While he struggled, hitting only .228 with 5 Home Runs and 15 RBI in 68 games and 158 AB, Ankiel could’ve at least gotten a spring training invite.
So what’s the hold with the Mets? The same thing it’s been for the past three seasons: money.
As detailed in Howard Megdal’s e-book “Wilpon’s Folly,” the Mets – with help of one Bernie Madoff – have dug themselves a deep hole that could’ve easily been taken care off with the selling of the team. But Fred Wilpon’s desire to prop up a ship that will sink unless an emergency replacement’s made at captain has kept the franchise, the fans and Citi Field in a bind. Throwing out propaganda about the outfield walls looking “old school” the amount of ads that call Citi Field home are borderline comical. Wilpon’s friendship with current Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is the only thing keeping the Mets from meeting the fate of the seemingly rejuvenated Los Angeles Dodgers franchise.
So it’s nice to hear that Alderson isn’t happy with the makeup of the team, especially the outfield, but maybe he should do something about that. Options may be limited, but there are options. And if there are no options, that should tell you something about where the Wilpons stand in terms of finances. They need to sell the team…but at least do something about the outfield on the way out.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com ***
A big thank-you goes out to our ‘Mets Correspondent‘ Stephon Johnson for preparing today’s featured article. Stephon is a staff writer for the New York Amsterdam News where he’s covered news, politics, education, union issues, sports and art & entertainment since 2007. He’s covered the New York Yankees, local College Basketball and the New York City Marathon. His work has earned him awards from the New York Association of Black Journalists and the Ippies (which awards New York’s independent, community and ethnic media). His work has appeared in various publications and websites like Beyond Race Magazine and Baeble Music.com. A native of The Bronx, he now resides in Astoria, Queens. Feel free to follow Stephon on Twitter and talk the game of baseball Follow @stephonjohnson8
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Posted on January 21, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged @stephonjohnson8 on twitter, bernie madoff, bud selig, carlos quentin, chris johnson, citi field, collin cowgill, daniel murphy, david wright, dewayne wise, fred wilpon, howard megdal, ike davis, johan santana, kirk nieuwenhuis, la dodgers, lucas duda, mark buehrle, mark reynolds, matt kemp, mike baxter, new york mets, NL east, Rick Ankiel, rueben tejada, ryan Sweeney, sandy alderson, stephon johnson, WFAN, willpons folly. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.