Jason Bay is headed to Port St. Lucie to resume baseball activities and could be activated from the disabled list in a week or so. The Mets have a difficult decision to make when he finally returns: what to do with the outfield? Actually, the decision is not difficult at all — Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Andres Torres should platoon in center.
First of all, Bay should not be benched. He is making $16 million and was starting to hit before he got hurt. He deserves a chance to prove his worth.
Lucas Duda should remain in right. Although he’s not setting the world on fire offensively, he’s doing reasonably all right.
That leaves Nieuwenhuis and Torres. Both players have cooled from their torrid starts. But while Nieuwenhuis is hitting a respectable .283 and still getting clutch hits, Torres is now batting .189 and in his last ten games has two hits in 35 at bats.
Now let’s take a look at the splits — the switch-hitting Torres is batting .250 against left handed pitching and .160 against righties. Nieuwenhuis is batting .330 against righties and .158 against lefties. So it makes sense that they platoon.
At some point later in the season, I would bench Torres and let Nieuwenhuis play every day. It is obvious that he is the future of the team, not the placeholder Torres. And at some point he’s got to get comfortable against lefties. Why wait until next season to do it? Unless, of course, the Mets are still in contention; then they should do whatever it takes to win.
All of this could go out the window if the Mets decide to demote Ike Davis and slide Lucas Duda to first. Let’s hope it does not come down to that. If not, a platoon is the obvious way to go.