Status of Metland: Outfield


| jpascullo@queenscourier.com |

Hello friends, welcome back! Well, if you’ve keeping your eye on the 2011 World Series, you’d know that the St. Louis Cardinals entering today have a 2-1 Series lead that easily could have been a commanding 3-0 advantage. They are usually in the playoff picture year in year out, and have only posted one losing record since the new millennium. Someday, hopefully the Mets will be able to emulate this team. Every year we hope that that season will be the first step in the process. So far, 2006 looks fluky and we’re still waiting. Maybe 2012 eh? We can dream, so without further ado, let’s browse the Mets outfield situation.

It’s going to happen, so let’s not create any weird or wacky scenarios in our heads: Jason Bay is going to be back once again in leftfield for the Mets. His production and contract render him untradeable, and we can’t just let him go. The amount of money we owe him over the next 2 years (32 million) is far too much to pay him for doing nothing or playing elsewhere. Perhaps if 2012 is another typical-Jason-Bay-in-Flushing year, then he’ll be worthy of the Oliver Perez treatment. But it’s too soon for that. So once again, we’ve got to hope and pray that Bay regains form. A man the team’s paid to hit 25-30 home runs a year for us hasn’t even cracked 20 in his 900+ plate appearances as a Met. I don’t know what to expect out of Jason in 2012. He hit well in his final 40 AB’s in 2011 with a .325 BA and .954 OPS, but where the hell is the power? This is a lineup desperate for some pop, and Jason’s lack of it has totally hamstrung this team. One comparable I’ve heard mentioned on WFAN is Dale Murphy. Like Bay, Murphy went completely downhill the year after he hit his personal best in home runs (44 in 1987.) The following year his OPS dipped more than 250 points and Dale was never an MVP-caliber outfielder again. Like Murphy, Bay seems to have completely lost it. Hopefully 2012 holds a different ending…

On the other side of the outfield, we go from the extremely disappointing to the extremely promising as we profile Lucas Duda. It’s already been decided that Lucas will be starting in rightfield when 2012 opens up, and hopefully a full season of Duda results in improved power numbers for this Mets lineup. In his 439 career plate appearances, about half of Jason Bay’s PA total as a Met, he’s got 14 homers, just 4 fewer than Bay’s got since he arrived in Flushing. That right there is a perfect example of how horrible Bay has been, and how promising Lucas has been. And now Duda’s potential will finally pay off in 2012; he’s officially a starter. Lucas will get on base, and doesn’t strike out often either. He won’t offer much in the speed department, nor will the outfield work be the anything to gloat about. However this team has such a power problem (the Mets and their 108 home runs ranked just 26th in all of Major League Baseball in 2011) that at this point I’ll gladly trade in a little bit of defense for power. It’s been 3 years since the Mets have finished in the top 15 when it comes to team home runs.

Any time an organization is under new management, there is no guarantee that they’ll value what was valuable to the former leaders in the same way. That being said, Angel Pagan had a lot of proving to do last season, and it’s debateable whether or not he did enough to be tendered a contract in 2012. Though he stole 32 bases, his OPS dipped below the .700 marker, and his outfield defense became a bit of a liability as well. In his first taste of full-time starting in centerfield, Pagan posted a -16.1 UZR/150, which is not going to get it done. He also made a good deal of mental mistakes in his time in the outfield or on the basepaths, resurrecting all of those thoughts that he’s just not a mentally intelligent player who belongs in a Major League starting lineup once again. It’s still up in the air as to whether or not Angel will be back, and one name being tossed around as to who the Mets may take a flier on is Grady Sizemore. The Indians have a 2012 option for him that will need to be decided upon soon. Yes, he’s been injured the past couple of years, but prior to that the guy was one of the best centerfielders in baseball. The Mets may be able to strike lightning in a bottle with him in the event Pagan is let go. He’ll be affordable for sure, maybe even coming at a cheaper price tag than what Pagan is due to make via arbitration. What would you do?

Sound off Mets fans! Time to make your voice heard! What do your expectations (realistic ones only please!) look like for Jason Bay in 2012? Will Lucas Duda continue to show promise now that he’s a starting outfielder for a Major League team in New York? And should the club non-tender Angel Pagan? If Grady Sizemore winds up being available, is he a wise choice for a replacement? Comment your thoughts and opinions below, and as always my dear friends, thanks for stopping by to read!