New York Mets

The State of the Mets Part 2: What to Do with the Outfield?

Shale BriskinContributor IIIOctober 17, 2013

The State of the Mets Part 2: What to Do with the Outfield?

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    With the Mets' offseason in full swing, they will need to make quite a few moves in order to improve the ballclub in 2014. Now would also be a good time to review the 2013 season, and evaluate what the 2014 and future rosters could look like going forward.

    Here is the second of a four-part series that analyzes the Mets' present and future by each position. This section will focus on outfielders. One of the biggest and most notable issues involve the outfield. The Mets could use a makeover in the outfield in order to hopefully generate a lineup that scores more runs than they did in 2013.

Left Field

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    2013:

    For the first two months of this past season, Lucas Duda was the primary starting left fielder. However, in June, Duda got hurt and was sent to the disabled list. As a result of Duda's injury, subpar performances from other outfielders, and the team's overall lack of speed, the Mets traded pitcher Collin McHugh to the Rockies for Eric Young Jr.

    Young quickly became the Mets' left fielder for the rest of the season. Despite batting just .249 with a .310 OBP, Young certainly brought some much needed speed with him. He led the National League with 46 stolen bases, with 38 of them being as a Met. Young was also serviceable defensively, with a .989 fielding percentage and just two errors all season.

    2014:

    Whether Young retains his starting position in left field in 2014 is unknown. He is under team control, but the Mets can find a good enough upgrade, they could use Young as a fourth outfielder and pinch-running specialist. Regardless, Young will almost certainly be a part of the Mets' 2014 plans in one way or another.

    The Future:

    Nothing is certain at left field yet for the long-term future. Young is one option, but internally, there are other young options in Cesar Puello, Brandon Nimmo and Cory Vaughn, among others. And of course, there are also the possibilities of the Mets signing a free agent or making a trade for a new left fielder. As a result, it's currently too early to really speculate who will be playing left field for the Mets in 2015 and beyond.

Center Field

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    2013:

    Collin Cowgill was the Opening Day center fielder for the Mets this past season and hit a grand slam in that game. However, he struggled at the plate and lost his starting job late in April. In late April, Juan Lagares was called up and originally platooned in center field with Rick Ankiel, but Ankiel struggled as well and got released in June. After that, Lagares got the vast majority of the playing time in center field for the rest of the season.

    Lagares batted .242, with just a .281 OBP, but he hit better as the season went on. Defensively though, Lagares played very well and showed Gold Glove potential. Lagares had a .983 fielding percentage with 15 assists and just five errors all season in 116 games.

    2014:

    If any Mets outfield position could be secured for 2014, it would have to be center field. The Mets seem to really like Lagares' defense and could also have faith that his bat improves with time. Lagares' job is not thoroughly guaranteed, but it would be a surprise if he is not the Opening Day center fielder in 2014.

    The Future:

    Lagares right now looks to be the center fielder of the future, but if another Mets' prospect shows a better bat and good enough defense, a player like that would be most likely to unseat Lagares, if anyone. Free agency and trades could always have an effect as well.

Right Field

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    2013:

    Marlon Byrd won the starting right field job out of spring training last season. In 106 games played before being traded to the Pirates after being claimed off waivers in August, Byrd batted .285 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI as a Met. Byrd played nearly every day from April through August. After the trade, Juan Lagares, Matt den Dekker, Mike Baxter and Andrew Brown all spent time in right field down the stretch.

    2014:

    Right field for the Mets in 2014 is very uncertain. This is the most likely spot in the outfield that the Mets will find an upgrade through free agency or the trade market. A player like Shin-Soo Choo could be a reasonable possibility for the Mets to try to sign. Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz and Nate McLouth are all going to be free agents as well.

    There is also the possibility that Marlon Byrd could return to the Mets this offseason, with Byrd being open to the idea. This may not be the most ideal option, but something to at least keep in mind.

    The Future:

    Like left field and center field, the long-term future in right field is quite unknown for the Mets. Free agency and the trade market would almost certainly have a significant impact. But among the Mets' internal options, Cesar Puello could eventually become the right fielder of the future by 2015 or 2016 if the Mets choose to go that route.

Conclusions & Predictions

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 Starters:

    Left Field: Eric Young Jr.

    Center Field: Juan Lagares

    Right Field: Marlon Byrd (Andrew Brown after Byrd trade)

    2014 Predictions:

    Left Field: Eric Young Jr.

    Center Field: Juan Lagares

    Right Field: Shin-Soo Choo

    Long-Term Future Predictions (by 2016 or 2017):

    Left Field: Brandon Nimmo

    Center Field: Juan Lagares

    Right Field: Shin-Soo Choo (depending on the length of his contract if he were to sign; if not Choo, then Cesar Puello)

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