It was reported yesterday that Jason Bay won’t be activated from the disabled list until April 26th at the earliest, or about two weeks from now. As I mentioned, Jason Bay can and should be an integral part of the Mets lineup this season, so his belated return does not bode well for the team’s offense. So far, the team has employed a few different players in his place, but Terry Collins hasn’t seem to found a definite solution. Here’s a look at who has replaced, might replace, and won’t replace Bay in the lineup until he returns.
Willie Harris: Harris has received the bulk of the starts so far-a grand total of seven-in left. So far he’s been decent, going 8-27 with three doubles, a home run and three walks, good for an on-base percentage of .367 and a slugging percentage of .519. However, he has also struck out ten times and doesn’t pose enough of a power threat to bat fifth or sixth in the order, leading to someone like Pagan hitting in one of those spots which creates lack of depth in the lineup.
Scott Hairston: The man with the big swing has had a rough go of it so far, managing just one hit in seventeen plate appearances with a whopping eight strikeouts. To be fair, six of plate appearances were as a pinch hitter, but still the trend is alarming. He has enough power to warrant batting sixth (if he ever played 162 games he would project to average about 19 long balls) and should get the starts against lefties.
Daniel Murphy: Murph is supposed to be the team’s all around utility player this year, so why not let him get a couple starts? He has held his own so far as second base this season and has played a couple innings in left, proving that Collins is willing to use him there. Although his defense has been much maligned, he actually has been OK playing left field during his career, accumulating three runs saved over 462.2 innings between 2008 and 2009. Murphy is just 4-18 this year, but has struck out fewer times than Harris and Hairston (four) and owns a better career triple slash line (.274/.330/.432) than them as well.
Lucas Duda: Duda is not an option to replace Bay for a couple of reasons. For one, since he was optioned down to the minors on April 10th and can’t return until 10 days later unless the Mets place another player on the disabled list. Second, Duda has not looked comfortable in the outfield and doesn’t seem to have the speed or experience to cover ground at Citi Field. Odds are he’ll be back later in the year, but not yet.
Nick Evans: The Mets are probably going to have to make two roster moves this week. The first will likely be demoting a reliever in order to make room for Dillon Gee’s spot start this weekend against the Atlanta Braves. The follow up maneuver would be to send Gee back to Buffalo to make room for a position player, so why not Nick Evans? Nick has been up and down the past three season and thankfully cleared waivers following spring training. He’s mashed lefties to the tune of a .891 career OPS against them and certainly has power, averaging a home run in the minors every 27.83 plate appearances. I mentioned before that as long as Bay, Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan and Ike Davis were healthy and Hairston hit well in the spring, Evans wouldn’t be on the major league roster. Well now Bay is hurt and Hairston is whiffing, so maybe this is Evans’ chance to succeed in the majors.
Fernando Martinez: F-Mart is 5-16 to start the season at Buffalo, but I’d find it hard to believe the new regime would think for a split second to call him up for a short stint in the majors. Sandy Alderson knows that Martinez needs a full year of triple A at bats to help him mature as a hitter, and wouldn’t interrupt that. Met fans will have to wait to see the organization’s former top prospect again in the majors.
Jesus Feliciano: Feliciano spent 13 seasons in the minors before finally making his major league debut last season. Unfortunately, his .339 average at Buffalo only translated into a .231 average in the majors with zero home runs (since he only has 18 career minor league home runs, that wasn’t exactly a surprise). Feliciano is 1-9 so far at Buffalo and figures to see his playing time decrease now that Duda is back with the team. Still, as a short term option, the team could do worse.
Jason Pridie: The 27 year old has exactly eleven major league plate appearances, and has recorded zero hits and one walk. During his nine-plus year minor league career, Pridie has hit .275/.319/.423, and is just 5-28 so far this season. He probably won’t be called up, but his beard this spring was pretty sweet.
Why: The left fielder from the famous Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?” skit would make a great addition to the team. First, he’s a question, and the Mets have plenty of those. Second, Hu is already on the squad. And three, the Mets have been the butt of many jokes already this season, so why not add another?
In all seriousness, I think that Harris will continue to get the starts unless he goes into a terrible funk, but that Murphy is the better option of who is currently on the roster as long as Brad Emaus hits (which he isn’t doing right now). Evans seems like the logical call up from triple A since he can play both corner outfield spots and has major league experience, and since the new front office seems pretty logical, he stands a chance. Hopefully Bay won’t be out much past the end of April, but in the meantime, the Mets have a few options to take his place