In about a year the Mets have gone from “what outfield” to actually having too many outfielders. It is not a terrible problem to have, but it is still a problem and it will be interesting to see how Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins handle the Mets outfield.
Juan Lagares is expected to rejoin the Mets at some point during the weekend series with the Rockies, giving them four starting outfielders. For those new to the game of baseball, that is one outfielder too many.
Collins has already said that he will try to play all of them, that none of them will be out of the lineup for more than a game. That is a tall order.
Lagares has to play. He was hitting .314 and was the only reliable bat in the lineup before he got injured. Perhaps more importantly, he is already one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball.
Regardless of his pitiful .136 average, Curtis Granderson has to be in the lineup, for 60 million simple reasons. He has to be given a chance to justify that contract. Jason Bay was given three years and Granderson will surely get more than a month.
Chris Young falls under the same category. He is only signed for a year, but his $7.25 million contract is the fourth highest on the team. He and Granderson are also two of the few power threats in the lineup.
Then there is Eric Young. He is second in the league in steals, tied for third in runs and in the top 20 in walks. But he is also in the top 20 in strikeouts and is batting just .215. His .315 on-base percentage is decent considering his batting average, but it far from outstanding.
Eric Young seems the most likely candidate for a reserve role, but can the Mets afford to bench a player who seems like he is always on base, providing a spark that no one else seems capable of doing?
This is why I thought the Mets would trade Daniel Murphy over the winter and install Eric Young at second. They could still do that, but right now Murphy is the team’s leading hitter at .304. That would leave five regulars mired below .220 (and Lucas Duda is always an imminent threat to join them). Could the Mets really afford to lose Murphy’s bat at this point?
A trade is unlikely, so Alderson and Collins will have to make a decision. Playing all four of them just will not work. We saw how the similar first base scenario worked out. The Mets should bench Eric Young and see how the lineup reacts. If the rest of the team can pick up the slack, then all will be well. If not, go to Plan B, whatever that might be.