Mets Still Have Work To Do, Beginning With Outfield

Speaking at the Winter Meetings, Mets’ CEO Jeff Wilpon said GM Sandy Alderson would have an increased budget for 2013 and the team “will be competitive.’’

What exactly he meant by that, he wouldn’t specify. Does it mean the Mets will be a playoff contender or at least a .500-caliber team? Just exactly how much will the budget be increased? When Wilpon spoke of payroll flexibility, in the wake of the commitment to David Wright, he didn’t do so in terms of actual dollars.

PAGAN: Rarely ran like that with the Mets.

Alderson said the outfield pool is currently at the deep end with Shane Victorino signing a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston. I thought if the Mets splurged they might have a shot at Victorino, but I wasn’t thinking $39 million. Victorino actually turned down $44 million from Cleveland for a chance to play for a contender, and the Indians aren’t exactly a free-spending team.

Alderson said “we’ll get outfielders,’’ but what he didn’t add on was, “… we have to because the rules say we need to play with three.’’

Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter – left to right – is what the Mets currently have if the season started today.

Duda made a splash two years ago, but struggled badly last season; Nieuwenhuis made a good first impression in 2012 after Andres Torres was injured, but major league pitching caught up with him (those curveballs can be nasty); and Baxter is a role player who gets exposed after long bouts of playing time.

Hopefully, Duda learned something from being shipped off to the minors and he’ll have a breakout year. But, he’s never done it over a full season, so the hopes are mostly wishful thinking.

As far as Nieuwenhuis goes, he made a splash with his ability to work the count, put the ball in play and hustle. It would be asking a lot from him to develop into a fulltime leadoff hitter, assuming manager Terry Collins will place him at the top of the order.

I heard interest in Ryan Ludwick, but he’s not coming here.  Ludwick made $2 million last year while hitting 26 homers and driving in 80 runs for Cincinnati. He’ll command a hefty raise, and I’m betting the Reds will give it to him.

Speaking of hefty raises, Scott Hairston, easily the most productive outfielder the Mets had last season, should get at least two years, or one and an option, for hitting 20 homers last season. Great off the bench, his playing time gradually increased.

The Mets will need a guy like him. Hey, here’s an idea … sign him.

Now that the Mets have committed $140 million to Wright, what about the rest of the roster? Dickey is still out there, and there have been no significant additions to even suggest the Mets’ offices have been open since the end of the season.


3 thoughts on “Mets Still Have Work To Do, Beginning With Outfield

  1. do the Mets think they can play the infield WAY back and get away from using the outfielders?

  2. Rev Al: Great idea. Wish I had thought of that line. One thing I can bet on with Mets outfielders is Bay will hit 30 this year with the Mariners. Of course, you knew that already.-JD

  3. In relation to the budget I believe I read something where the payroll flexibility was really for next year. Yes they will have some budget this year, but the money and flexibility will come the year after.

    As for Kirk. I know he is a stretch, but historically he has had problems at the next level and then by 1/2 season mark of the following year figures it out and plays well. I am hoping he needs time. He probably needs to be the fourth OF for this year.

    They will need to get bodies to play the field. I am not looking for the team to get real talent. Just warm bodies that are professionals. They will have to be cheap as we have no budget.

    If they get professionals that can field the position and make contact then we can have a team. If the pitching is as good as I hope it to be they will have to play defense and make contact at the plate. If they do that we should be OK.

    Duda needs to prove he belongs which means he needs to play well in AAA.