The New York Mets showed legitimate interest in Michael Bourn this winter, but the speedy center fielder will take his talents to Cleveland, a team that had a protected draft pick.
The Mets now enter spring training with the likes of Lucas Duda, Collin Cowgill, Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Andrew Brown vying for playing time in the outfield.
Yes, it's fair to criticize Sandy Alderson for not acquiring a bona fide top-notch outfielder this winter. He'll likely have to work the trade market to find outfielders now.
That said, I'm not going to sit here and whine about the state of the Mets outfield. Surely you can find that elsewhere in a hundred other places online, in print and on the radio.
The Mets are far from perfect. This is not news. Signing Bourn would've helped the Mets in 2013 with his ability to leadoff and play center field.
Instead, the Mets could end up platooning their center fielders and leadoff hitters, depending on how Terry Collins decides to approach it.
Nieuwenhuis will likely play center field against right-handers, and Cowgill might play center against lefties. If anything, we'll find out just exactly what they're capable of.
For the leadoff spot, your guess is as good as mine. Nieuwenhuis strikes out too much to leadoff, in my opinion. I don't know much about Cowgill's plate discipline.
I think that Terry Collins should look into a lefty/righty platoon of Mike Baxter and Ruben Tejada at the top of the batting order. It's not ideal, but it could work.
Tejada, a right-handed hitter, has a career .372 on-base percentage against lefties, compared to a .322 OBP against righties. Pretty good plate discipline for a 23-year-old, nevertheless.
Baxter, meanwhile, has a .370 career OBP against righties. That includes a .386 OBP against righties in 2012. He's played a negligible amount against lefties.
Neither one of them has much going for them in the speed department, but they're not slow baserunners either, per se. It might be worth a shot platooning them at the leadoff spot.
An example of a Mets' projected lineup could look something along these lines:
vs LHP vs RHP
SS Ruben Tejada (R) RF Mike Baxter (L)
2B Daniel Murphy (L) 2B Daniel Murphy (L)
3B David Wright (R) 3B David Wright (R)
1B Ike Davis (L) 1B Ike Davis (L)
C John Buck (R) LF Lucas Duda (L)
LF Lucas Duda (L) C John Buck (R)
CF Collin Cowgill (R) CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis (L)
RF To Be Determined SS Ruben Tejada (R)
Starting Pitcher Starting Pitcher
It's not the best lineup in the world, but it's not the worst, either. Or maybe it is. More likely it's something in between. I suppose we'll find out soon enough.
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