After signing free agents Chris Young, and Curtis Granderson, shouldn’t all of the New York Mets’ outfield problems be solved? Well this time, a good problem has arrived for the Mets. The team now has four capable outfielders: Chris Young, Curtis Granderson, Eric Young Jr., and Juan Lagares.
But with only three outfield spots, what should the outfield look like?
In a vacuum, evaluating these three players seems easy to me. Granderson, Chris Young, and Juan Lagares. Eric Young Jr., is valuable, but has never proven to consistently hit for average and is not as defensively sound as Lagares. So if you asked to choose the most logical, and best of these four players, that would be my answer.
So take those three and insert them into the Mets lineup. Then an even bigger issue comes up for the Mets: who in the world is going to leadoff? Daniel Murphy? Chris Young? There’s nobody else on the team that can ignite the offense. So this is where Eric Young Jr., who did a phenomenal job leading off for the second half of 2013, comes into play. Now, although he doesn’t get on base a ton, the guy has unbelievable speed and puts his heart and effort into every play.
He proved to be a solid leadoff hitter, the fans love him, but most importantly, there’s no other choice. So Eric Young Jr. needs to be in the lineup. We’ve all heard the rumors that the team would like him as a fourth outfielder, but I just cannot see that happening. And with the chances of the Mets acquiring a leadoff hitter getting slimmer and slimmer, it’s hard for even the front office to see Young starting on the bench. Adam Rubin reported Sunday when the Winter Meetings opened that Alderson now doesn’t necessarily view Young as a backup. Clearly something has changed.
Since we need Eric Young Jr. to lead off, I think it’s fair to start Juan Lagares on the bench. It would be one thing if the other defensive options were very weak, but all four starters are athletic, and strong defensively. Lagares is the strongest of them all, but starting him on the bench would not be devastating considering the rest of them cover plenty of ground as well.
But all this may be avoided. Reports say that the Mets are shopping second basemen Daniel Murphy, presumably for a shortstop or pitcher. In the event that a trade does happen, Eric Young would seem to be the most logical option there. He’s played second base before, and then allows Juan Lagares to slide back into the outfield.
Assuming no trade is made, I think the opening day Mets outfield should be Curtis Granderson in center field, Eric Young in right field, Chris Young in left. Granderson is a very strong outfielder and has flourished in the center field role, so we’ll keep him there.