It’s something that is asked of me more and more in the last three weeks; will Juan Lagares lose any playing time or even his starting job in center field in light of the Mets new outfield additions?
I’d always thought there was no chance that anyone would supplant Lagares in center, but I began to have my doubts when during a conference call with Sandy Alderson he said that Chris Young would compete with Lagares for the center field job. It was said matter of factly with no vagueness at all.
Young also made it very clear that he expects substantial playing time in center field.
I happened to catch something Adam Rubin of ESPN New York said in his Winter Meetings wrap this morning.
If Daniel Murphy stays and the Mets do not upgrade at shortstop, one interesting lineup question will be: Do the Mets have to get Eric Young Jr. into the lineup and leadoff spot? That was a topic of conversation among club officials later in the winter meetings. There have been some rumblings Juan Lagares could end up on the bench or in Triple-A, despite his Gold Glove-caliber defense.
The Mets seem very obsessed with getting Eric Young everyday playing time. While nothing in his career has shown him to be an everyday player, the front office sees him as their ideal leadoff candidate for now despite his .249 average and .310 on-base last season in 418 plate appearances. Until he arrived to the Mets, Young was a part-time player in five years for the Rockies before they placed him on waivers and the Mets traded for him.
The soon to be 29-year old certainly has the speed you desire in a leadoff man, but it may be a critical mistake to give him that role, just as it was with Collin Cowgill and Andres Torres the previous season.
It would be a shame to see such an exciting young player as the gifted 24-year old Lagares become the odd man out should the Mets roster stay as it is going into the new season. Hopefully, that won’t be the case.
Thoughts from David C.
I really really like Lagares playing center field in 2014, but I guess the only way he will prove that it is his, is how he plays in spring training. With how hot he was in the Dominican Winter league, the hope is that he saved some of that for the 2014 season. So if he starts out hot, then it will be a real battle for the position with Chris Young, but if he does not hit well, I think the Mets will concede the position to CY. There is no guarantee that that CY will hit much either, so the verdict is out on who the every day center fielder will be. As for me, and not taking anything away from CY, but I just like Lagares’ defense and hopefully his offensive get better as well. Will be an exciting Spring.
(Photo: WSJ.com/Getty Images)