June 8, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; SNY field reporter Kevin Burkhardt smiles before the game between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Full Text: Kevin Burkhardt's defense of Juan Lagares on Friday

During the pregame show on Friday night, Kevin Burkhardt defended Juan Lagares, and skewered Mets manager Terry Collins for his recent decision-making.

For those who may not have seen the pregame and/or those who want to see Burkhardt’s perfect rant in print:

Eric Young, Jr. is in the lineup, Curtis Granderson is in the lineup, Bobby Abreu is in the lineup, Juan Lagares…is not in the lineup. Take a look at this – if you just go by early season WAR, which is wins above replacement – basically it gives you a pretty good gauge at how good the players are.

Juan Lagares is third on the Mets right now, behind Daniel Murphy and Eric Young, Jr. Last year he was fourth best on the team – that despite not even playing for the first five or six weeks before he got called up. So what does that tell you? He’s one of – if not the team’s best – player. Yet, he hasn’t played four of the last five games.

Here’s manager Terry Collins on why (picks up after a video of Collins during the pregame)…

Well, a couple of things about that soundbite that are important. First of all, you talk about Lagares not swinging it well. He’s five of his last 27, that goes his last eight games, so he is slumping a little bit – fine. You want to sit him a game or two, I understand. Four out of five? Makes no sense.

The key phrase that Terry Collins said – “getting guys playing time.” Why? Who cares about playing time for other guys when this team is trying to build for the future. Make no mistake, 90-win guarantee and all, this team is not about winning right now. This team is about getting good for a long time, and right now they’re trying to do both. If they win, it’s a benefit.

Juan Lagares is arguably your best player this year. Yeah he’s slumping for the last eight games. He’s maybe the best defensive player in center field in the game right now, and up until the last eight games, he was maybe your best offensive player all year long. Why does it matter if Bobby Abreu gets offensive at-bats? To me it doesn’t.

The other issue here is that this front office promised Chris Young, when they signed him, at-bats this year. They promised him playing time. Promises are meant to be broken. That was made before the Mets went out and signed Curtis Granderson. That was made before the Mets went out and knew that Juan Lagares really is on the trajectory to be a star.

Let’s see what this kid can do. We know defensively he’s as good as anyone, maybe it cost them a run in the game last night. But how in the world can this guy not be in there? It doesn’t make any sense.

To me, besides Terry making the call, I think Terry’s too smart a baseball man to not have Lagares in there four of the last five days. His answer made no sense. I think it’s a whole disconnect with the whole organization right now, because it really goes to the whole philosophy.

If you want to win 90 games, well everything’s gotta be concurrent with that. It’s the same reason, okay, do everything towards that goal. Lagares is your best player, he’s gotta play. You want to win 90 games, you gotta go out and get a professional shortstop, a guy that can play well at this level. They don’t have it.

It’s a whole issue that’s trickling on down right now, but here’s the bottom line: Juan Lagares not playing four out of five games for this team right now? Doesn’t make any sense. None whatsoever. They want offense? Yeah, he’s been slumping, but no one else is hitting, especially the last two days.

One last thing: You want to talk about Eric Young playing? I have no problem with that, especially when you consider this last weekend when the Mets were really struggling. You looked at the numbers with Eric Young, Jr. in the lineup as opposed to when he was out, they were much better with him in the lineup.

I think there’s a way to juggle four outfielders here, but there’s no way in my book that Juan Lagares sits four of five days. I just don’t see it.

 

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