Oct 24

New Hitting Coach Long Can Help This Suggested Outfield

Let’s operate under the assumption, which isn’t hard to do, the New York Mets won’t acquire the long-ball hitting left fielder they covet. Given that, the Mets’ outfield – from left to right – should be Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker.

Lagares is a finalist for the NL Gold Glove in center field, along with Billy Hamilton and Denard Span. The award is determined by 75 percent input from managers and coaches and 25 percent by statistics.

LAGARES: Needs to hit.

LAGARES: Needs to hit.

Lagares proved this season he can field the position and steal a base, but he’s far from polished offensively, evidenced by a low on-base percentage and propensity for striking out. If he’s going to compete for the leadoff spot those two areas must be improved.

I would move Granderson from right to left – there’s your homer hitting left fielder – because it’s easier to play than right. You want a polished defender in right, which is den Dekker.

This should the full time opportunity he didn’t get last season because the Mets wasted their time with Chris Young. Yeah, I know it’s piling on.

All three could benefit from new hitting coach Kevin Long’s tutelage.

Granderson thrived under Long with the Yankees, hitting over 40 homers and driving in over 100 runs in 2011 and 2012. Unfortunately, he also struck out 169 and 195 times in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Maybe Granderson will benefit with the closer fences in Citi Field, but if Long can get him to cut his strikeouts and use the whole field, he could live up to that contract. Granderson’s on-base percentages and strikeout rates were much better playing in spacious Comerica Park, giving the impression he was seduced by the Yankee Stadium bandbox.

As for Lagares, his 87-to-20 strikeouts-to-walks ratio is something he must improve because in this era teams can’t afford to carry an offensive liability no matter how good he is in the field.

Den Dekker showed he’s worthy of the opportunity based on his production over a limited 152 at-bats with a .250 average and .345 on-base percentage.

This is potentially a good outfield defensively, but if they prove they can hit, the Mets will be greatly improved.

Mar 15

Den Dekker Battling His Way Onto The Opening Day Roster

Matt_den_Dekker3

(Photo by David Conde, Metsmerized Online)

In last night’s game recap I mentioned that Matt den Dekker may be putting himself back into the family photo in the Mets outfield.

Don’t look now but after going 1-for-3, Matt den Dekker is batting .409 (9-for-22) in 13 games with a double, triple, three runs and five RBIs. He’s entering the picture again.

Christina De Nicola of Mets.com shared some quotes from den Dekker who talks about his solid spring and how it relates to his career pattern of struggling during his first go-around after then putting up big numbers his second time around.

“My past years, I’ve always struggled when I moved up, and then played well the next year, and I just think it’s getting comfortable in the change of surroundings,” den Dekker said. “I’ve been in big league camp before. It’s definitely a little more familiarity and knowing what the guys want and how the other guys go about their business.”

“I’m just out here trying to compete for a spot and trying to make the team and help them out as much as I can.”

At this point, I’d say den Dekker is competing with Andrew Brown for the fifth outfielder position. But if he continues on this trend, it would be difficult for the Mets to not consider him for something more. Especially if the Mets don’t hit the ground running in April.

A year ago it was him that was considered the Mets’ center fielder of the future. That took a sharp detour however, after he fractured his wrist last Spring and then Juan Lagares emerged. But fortunes can change very quickly in this game.

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