Here’s tonight’s Mets’ lineup against the Dodgers in Game 3.
Curtis Granderson – RF
David Wright – 3B
Daniel Murphy – 2B
Yoenis Cespedes – LF
Lucas Duda – 1B
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Wilmer Flores – SS
Juan Lagares – CF
Matt Harvey – RHP
When it comes to rookie outfielder Michael Conforto, the Mets plan to choose the path of least of resistance and will continue their platoon system in left field. But, these are the Mets, so expect obstacles.
“We’ve brought people in here that hit lefties, that have a career record of hitting lefties,” manager Terry Collins said. “And right now that’s what we’ve been doing, and I’m going to stay with it.”
One of those hitters is Michael Cuddyer, but with injuries to Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy, Collins might not execute this platoon plan as they want – and that’s not a bad thing if it gives more playing time to Conforto.
Conforto is on a hot streak going 20-for-50 (.400) with five doubles, four homers and nine RBI in his last 17 games. He is hitting .311 overall, and attributes his success to going to the opposite field.
Sure, Cuddyer is hitting well since coming off the disabled list and is in the first season of a two-year contract. The way he’s hitting he should be playing, but with Duda on the DL it should be at first. Murphy has been playing a lot of first lately, but he’s day-to-day with a strained quad, which should remove some of the obstacles.
Nobody knows how long Duda and Murphy will be sidelined, but this is a perfect opportunity to give Conforto major league at-bats, including against lefties.
As for Yoenis Cespedes, stick him center and leave him there. Juan Lagares hasn’t done anything to justify his multi-year contract, so keep him as late-inning defense.
Conforto will be the starting left fielder with Cuddyer coming off the bench. There’s no reason why the Mets can’t get a head start on things now.
It is totally irrelevant, 100 percent, replays showed Blake Swihart’s drive off the wall that resulted in an inside-the-park home run would have been ruled a conventional homer had it been reviewed.
Also irrelevant, and unacceptable, is Juan Lagares’ explanation that he saw the ball go over the line.
“One hundred percent,’’ Lagares told reporters. “It hit over the line. That’s why the ball came back that hard.’’
Yes, it did, but that doesn’t matter. More important were his actions during the play. I don’t want to say Lagares is lying, but I’m not buying what he said.
If Lagares really thought the ball struck over the line, then why did he run after it? Actually, he jogged after it, which is also not acceptable.
OK, Lagares misplayed the drive and indicates he’s continually plays too shallow. He won the Gold Glove last season, but he’s not good enough to play that shallow. He’s not Paul Blair, not Curt Flood, not Willie Mays, not Andruw Jones, and not Andrew McCutcheon. Not even close. A lot of balls have gone over his head this season. (Sorry for the side rant, but that has been building up for awhile.)
The only ones who handled the play properly were Swihart, who never stopped running; the umpires, who never gave the home run call because they didn’t see that; and Ruben Tejada, who ran into the outfield to get the ball.
“I thought it had gotten over because of the way it bounced back, but I just kept my head down running,’’ Swihart said. “I kind of watched the center fielder jogging after it, but I didn’t hear anything so I kept running.’’
Notice how Swihart said Lagares jogged after the ball. He kept running out the play; Lagares did not.
And, give left fielder Yoenis Cespedes a bag of popcorn for the way he watched the play. It hasn’t been the first time he hasn’t hustled.
Lagares needs to hustle after the ball because you never know until the umpires make the call. As a player, you never assume anything, out or safe, fair or foul, until the call is made.
Lagares’ judgment and Cespedes’ lack of hustle can’t be tolerated, not in spring training and especially not during a pennant race.
However, Collins was not quoted regarding Lagares’ part other than to say the ball went over the line. Here’s wrung him out in his office after the game. The Mets are in a race, so this stuff needs to be cleaned up now.
Last night doesn’t cut it in October.
COMMENTS: The place should be rocking tonight like never before. … I like Cespedes hitting third. … Good to see they haven’t forgotten Lagares. Cespedes is the new toy, but the Mets might not have him next season. Best to keep Lagares happy and interested. … No question, Wright gets the biggest cheer. … It will be interesting to see how Harvey responds on 11 days rest.
Let’s assume the Mets succeed in signing Yoenis Cespedes to a contract extension. Then factor in Michael Conforto for a spot next year – you know he won’t make the Opening Day roster as a role player.
After his 2014 Gold Glove Award season, in an unprecedented move for them, the Mets signed Lagares to a five-year deal based primarily on defense and the hope he hits. For the most part Lagares remains an offensive liability with a propensity for striking out, a lack of plate patience and low on-base percentage.
Cespedes, Cuddyer, Granderson and Conforto all represent an offensive upside over Lagares. That the Mets attempted to deal him to Milwaukee in the botched Carlos Gomez trade speaks volumes of the regrets the Mets are having. This is even more underscored by the Mets’ willingness to try Cespedes in center field.
If the Mets sign Cespedes, we can figure them trying to deal Lagares this winter, and with it a virtual certainty he won’t last the five years of his contract.