According to a tweet from the Mets, the team will designate outfielder Rick Ankiel for assignment prior to tomorrow’s game. Kirk Nieuwenhuis will be recalled from AAA Las Vegas to take Ankiel’s place on the roster.
Ankiel, 33, had been 0 for his last 33 with 17 strikeouts. Overall, he was hitting .188 with a .235 OBP. After being released by Houston, Ankiel signed with the Mets and debuted with the team on May 13th.
Nieuwenhuis, 25, is hitting .232 with a .339 OBP for AAA Las Vegas. He’s been on a power tear recently, and has 10 homers overall in 142 at bats for Vegas.
There are those who say Nieuwenhuis is “Ankiel Jr,” and that may turn out to be the case. Still, it’s known at this point exactly what Ankiel is. While Nieuwenhuis may never lower his strikeout rate to the point where he can be a solid contributor, there’s still a chance. Signing Ankiel didn’t make sense for the Mets the day they did it, and each day he remained on the roster deprived the team the chance to evaluate younger players who may be able to make solid contributions in 2014 and beyond.
Starting tomorrow, the Mets can begin to properly evaluate Nieuwenhuis. With Ankiel off the roster, they can also give more playing time to Juan Lagares. Again, there’s a chance that both Nieuwenhuis and Lagares will fizzle. But this year is partly for evaluation, not watching players like Ankiel fail to catch up to 89 MPH fastballs.