While watching pre-game coverage on SNY before R.A. Dickey and the Mets took on Alex White and the Rockies, Kevin Burkhardt started an interesting conversation with his fellow reporters, then kept it going while having a chat with Terry Collins. It’s clear that KB thinks Scott Hairston should get a chance to start in the outfield for the Mets in 2013. Although he’s been a platoon player throughout most of his career, this is a scenario Sandy Alderson should consider.
As I mentioned in today’s diamond notes, New York’s outfield situation is a complete mess. Let’s look at each current outfielder for New York in 2012 to prove it. Jason Bay (.151/.234/.283) has gone from big-money, power threat acquisition to platoon player, and should be cut next February. Andres Torres (.228/.339/.330) is a switch hitter, but has been used in platoon situation as well, and there are rumors he won’t be tendered a contract. Mike Baxter (.304/.410/.451) is having a nice year, but is left-handed and hasn’t hit any homers in his 102 at-bats. Lastly, Jordany Valdespin(.245/.278/.464) has cooled off considerably since he proclaimed he was the man.
If we look at the entire 40-man roster, Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.252/.315/.376) went into an extreme slump that led to a demotion, and Lucas Duda (.241/.335/.391) pouted for a week in Triple-A before he realized he should start hitting if he ever wanted to play in the Majors again. Out of all the players I just mentioned, I could see Duda being the only one that has a decent chance of playing an outfield position for the Mets on an everyday basis in 2013.
Burkhardt mentioned that Hairston hasn’t gotten a legitimate chance to be a starter on the Major League level, yet he feels his body of work in limited time this season has earned him the chance to compete for a spot in the spring. First and foremost, Sandy Alderson will have to re-sign Hairston to a new deal before these talks continue. He recently said he’s open to negotiating an extension now; for the money-conscious Mets, they need to reach an agreement now before he hits the open market and his value increases.
Most teams interested in Hairston’s services would see him as a bench/platoon player. Makes sense; since he debuted in June 2001, he’s hit lefties at a .283 clip, while dipping down to .226 against righties, and this split has continued in 2012 (.326 vs. LHP and .220 vs RHP). However, Terry Collins has been playing Hairston every day of late, and he’s responded, as he’s hitting .344/.400/.469 in August and a healthy .339 over the last month. Despite having a significantly lower average against right-handed pitchers, 52 of his 89 career home runs have come off them.
In talking with Burkhardt in the Mets dugout, Collins mentioned that home run stat and spoke to the fact that Hairston is a veteran, and even though he’s still a pull hitter, he’s been learning to hit balls the other way with more consistency and authority. It certainly sounds like New York’s skipper wants to give him a chance to grab a starting job with the team. He may not be B.J. Upton or Justin Upton, but for a signficantly lower price, the Mets could have the right-handed, power hitting outfielder that they need to acquire this winter. He’s hit 21 doubles and 14 home runs in 267 at-bats in 2012.
With the payroll news that came out last week, this move may not be ones that fans were hoping to see to fill the void in the outfield, but it could be the best move the Mets could make with their limited resources. Do you think Scott Hairston should given a shot at a starting job with New York? Let us know!