The New York Mets haven’t even seen a pitch this spring, but it’s not too early to notice how outfielder Chris Young has muddled things.
And, it goes beyond the $7.25 million they’ll pay this year for the player who hit .200 last season with 12 homers and 93 strikeouts. Young’s 162-game averages are .235 with 24 homers and 148 strikeouts, so the Mets aren’t exactly renting a light’s out slugger.
The Mets must play Young because of his contract, but doing so creates several obstacles and dilemmas for manager Terry Collins.
If Collins chooses Lagares to play center, it leaves him without a viable leadoff hitter. Lagares has the speed, but strikes out too much to be a top-of-the-order hitter.
Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada have been mentioned, but neither is a great choice. Murphy should hit lower in the order because he’s a gap hitter able to drive in runs. Tejada is coming off a bad year and doesn’t have a good on-base percentage.
Chris Young can’t lead off because he strikes out too much. Granderson can’t do it either because he also strikes out and must hit fourth to protect David Wright.
But, if Collins chooses Eric Young to hit leadoff and presumably play center, it regulates Lagares to the bench. Lagares is their best outfield prospect, but it would be better to send him to the minor leagues to get at-bats rather than have him sit on the bench.
So, in essence the Mets are paying $7.25 million for a player that would likely delay the development of Lagares for a season.
The Mets are also contemplating keeping both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda on the Opening Day roster, with the intent of giving the latter time in left field. But, how often will he play if Chris Young is here?
The Mets say they are building for the future, but Chris Young doesn’t contribute to that aim because he’s gone after this season. Either he doesn’t produce and they won’t bring him back, or he’ll hit and go elsewhere because the Mets won’t want to pay what he’s asking.
So, if the Mets’ timetable isn’t to win this year, why pay all that money for a rental?
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