Sep 13, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Curtis Granderson (14) bunts the ball during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

New York Mets: The Outfield Conundrum

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.

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Tags: MLB New York Mets

  • Eric Kench

    Eric Young Jr. was a Gold Glove Finalist in left field which is the hardest of the three outfield positions to play. Chris Young’s best position is in centerfield and is considered Gold Glove caliber as well. Curtis Granderson is gonna be 33 years old. He has to play right field. I think Lagares is heading for the bench.

    • RONBO19

      Eric, I get why you want to relegate Lagares to the bench but wouldn’t he and the team be better served having him play regularly in the minors? The other thing is Chris Young needs to prove his 2013 season was a fluke before we anoint him the center field job.

      • Eric Kench

        I don’t really wanna relegate Lagares to the bench. I’m just stating why I think it is inevitable. Yes he could be heading to the minors. I don’t like the Chris Young signing. He’s one of the most inconsistent hitters in baseball.

        • James McDermott

          Lagares is the far superior defensive player and center field is the premium defensive position, not left. Young was a spark plug for the Mets last year, but his batting average and on base were far below what you would want from a lead off man on a quality team, especially given he is a corner outfielder, where power numbers and production are needed,

          • Eric Kench

            That;s where your wrong. Left field is the most difficult because the ball hooks and Eric Young Jr. was a Gold Glove finalist. Lagares didn’t get it because he made five errors in limited playing time. Also Lagares hasn’t proven that he could hit major league pitching over a full season. Eric Young Jr. is just coming into his own as a full time player. I don’t think any manager will bench him.

          • KenJr1918

            Taken from The Bill James Baseball Abstract:

            [ - - 1B - LF - RF - 3B - CF - 2B - SS - C - - ]

            With the basic premise being that positions at the right end of
            the spectrum are more difficult than the positions at the left
            end of the spectrum. Players can generally move from right
            to left along the spectrum successfully during their careers.

        • RONBO19

          Eric, You do a really good job posting here but again, I think its at least premature to think of relegating Lagare’s to the bench especially for Chris Young who was a good fielder but according to several pieces I have read apparently did not have a good season last year in the field. Lagare’s has hit between .275 to .290 through out his minor league career so its not like he’s a feeble hitter playing only because of his defense.Given time I’m thinking he’s a .260 to .285 type with occasional power that could be a great #8 hitter. i would rather see him start the year in Vegas rather than rot on the bench in Flushing.

          • Eric Kench

            The reason why Chris Young did not have a good season in the field is because they tried him in the corner outfield spots. I don’t really like the signing to tell you the truth but Chris Young is here to play centerfield. I would’ve been happy with a platoon consisting of Lagares and Dekker in center.

          • RONBO19

            Now your talking Eric. I agree 100% with that.My guess is Alderson will dump Young and maybe even Bartolo Colon near the deadline to a contender trying to pick up more pieces of the puzzle.