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Juan Lagares may be the odd man out in the Mets’ outfield

Feb 14, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

The Mets made a splash this off-season, signing Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million contract. They also picked up Chris Young on the cheap, and manager Terry Collins views him as a starter. That leaves one spot in the outfield between Juan Lagares and Eric Young, Jr.

According to Mike Vorkunov of the Star-Ledger, it sounds like Young is in the lead and Lagares may be relegated to a bench role or sent to Triple-A Las Vegas.

“As we sit here today Eric Young is the guy you’d like to see at the top of the order,” Collins said.

Collins also said: “Juan had a nice winter but when he gets in here we’ve got to see what our best options are. We’ve got three guys that can play centerfield that we know of and by gosh the best one is going to be out there because it’s a big position. Especially in our park…So we’ve got some jobs out there and if we need one of those guys to get nights off we know we’ll have a quality player to put in there. So we’ll make decisions farther in spring training.”

Lagares was quietly one of the more productive outfielders in baseball last season despite leaving a lot to be desired offensively. Both Baseball Reference (using DRS) and FanGraphs (using UZR) rated Lagares as a significantly above-average defender. Between center field (819 2/3 innings) and right field (84 1/3 innings), DRS credited him with 30 runs saved while UZR credited him with 24. By WAR, Baseball Reference lists Lagares as the 67th most valuable position player in baseball in 2013. FanGraphs ranked him 85th among those with at least 400 plate appearances.

The Mets, however, lack a “true” leadoff hitter, which is why they like Young. Young was even less impressive with the bat than Lagares last season, but he got on base three percent more often and stole a league-leading 46 bases in 57 attempts. Young also offers flexibility, having played all three spots in the outfield as well as second base.

  1. paperlions - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    If a .315 career OBP doesn’t scream “lead off hitter”, I don’t know what does.

    • oldschoolnflman - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:17 PM

      Better than some .340 jabroni who steals 5 bags

    • conjecture101 - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:49 PM

      Yes, let’s be forward thinkers and optimize our lineup by putting Lucas Duda in the leadoff spot, despite his inability to score from second on a single and his historically abysmal defense. And lets do this based solely on his 100 game 2011 season in which he posted a .370 OBP while ignoring the fact that Eric Young’s 98 game 2012 season consisted of a superior .377 OBP along with contributions in an archaic baseball facet known as baserunning.

  2. elvin2014 - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Is manager Terry Collins out of this planet?

    Juan Lagares is far better than Chris Young and Eric Young, Jr.

    It seems that Terry Collins is one of the worst managers in MLB now….

    • thebadguyswon - Feb 14, 2014 at 10:43 PM

      Collins is a complete idiot. But he’s also an obedient “yes” man, which makes him an ideal manager for Sandy Alderson.

  3. chill1184 - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    Im going to take what Collins said this afternoon with a grain of salt

  4. arrooo - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    Chris Young and his sub .200 avg stinks.

    • tuberippin - Feb 15, 2014 at 3:22 AM

      Unless he rediscovers his power hitting, he’s going to be riding the pine by June and the Mets will roll with an outfield of Granderson-Lagares-EY Jr.

  5. thebadguyswon - Feb 14, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    He’s one of the best defensive centerfielders in baseball, but knowing Collins and his preference for veterans, I’m sure he’ll ride the pine.

  6. blockedshotnyr - Feb 15, 2014 at 5:36 AM

    This is the result of Alderson failing to provide an alternative at shortstop. The Mets and Collins do not believe they can take an effective offensive zero at two positions (SS and CF). If they managed to bring in Drew than I would bet that Lagares would be placed securely in center, but since right now, Tejada is your opening day shortstop, they believe they need someone, who can provide anything offensively. Thus, E.Y. Jr. over Lagares.

    • vinniecran - Feb 15, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      Seems like Alderson failed to do alot of things this off season. Isn’t a teams strength measured by how sting they are up the middle? Tejada, Murphy, D’Arnaud. Wow. With out a stick at first, seems like a solid 74 win season no matter who plays center.

  7. vinniecran - Feb 15, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Seems like Alderson failed to do alot of things this off season. Isn’t a teams strength measured by how sting they are up the middle? Tejada, Murphy, D’Arnaud. Wow. With out a stick at first, seems like a solid 74 win season no matter who plays center.

  8. yordo - Feb 15, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    How is Chris Young guaranteed a spot when he hasn’t been relevant for five years?

  9. conjecture101 - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Actually he was an All Star 3 years ago and is being paid 7.5 million. The only reason he chose to sign with NYM over BOS was because he was promised at-bats. So that is why.

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