During his appearance on MLB Network Radio yesterday morning, we heard what we’ve been trying to avoid all winter: it’s unlikely the Mets will be making any more additions to the outfield before they report to Port St. Lucie for Spring Training in a couple weeks. So, what that means is Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter, Collin Cowgill, and Andrew Brown are the only players on New York’s roster that are primary outfielders. Is this a scary thought? Hell yea it is, but it’s time for us to come to terms with it.
In a span of about 12 hours last week, we saw the last bit of possible outfield help escape from the Mets’ grasp, as Scott Hairston signed a two-year/$6 million deal to platoon with the Cubs, and Justin Upton joined his brother in Atlanta through a trade with the Diamondbacks. The most attractive option left on the outfield market is Michael Bourn, and after plenty of speculation, him arriving in the Big Apple doesn’t look promising. So, the 2013 version of the outfield in Flushing technically has less viable, Major League options than they did at the end of 2012. When the former outfield included players like Jason Bay and Andres Torres, that’s a bold statement. Am I a little concerned about the outfield as we head into this season? “A little concerned” is quite the understatement.
However, as long as Sandy doesn’t crack any more jokes about this situation, I’ve accepted it (after a few days of thinking about it). Although the actual signings this winter have been underwhelming, Alderson has tried to trade for the outfield help they needed. He tried to sell R.A. Dickey real high to the Royals for Wil Myers and Rangers for Mike Olt (although he primarily plays the infield), before he sent him to Toronto. You know he probably checked in with the Nationals about Mike Morse, but that was doomed from the start. He also had multiple discussions with Kevin Towers about Upton, but those weren’t successful either. Not even Billy Beane was willing to give up one of his surplus of outfielders to his old buddy.
May 28, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oakland Athletics outfielder Collin Cowgill (12) against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Twins defeated the Athletics 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Now that we’re two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting, everyone is getting on Alderson for doing “nothing” for the outfield this off-season; however, when news reports say they’re interested in pursuing Michael Bourn, those same people curse him again. No matter what he does, there seems to be a large group of people ready to criticize his every move (or lack of move). He’s damned if he does, or damned if he doesn’t.
Either way, the reality of it all is that we’ll be watching Terry Collins writing in the above players into a lineup card for Grapefruit League games, and likely for regular season games as well. David Wright said it a couple weeks ago, and I feel like it’s worth repeating: championships aren’t won in January, or on paper. They’re won on the field. We shouldn’t pass judgment until we see how they perform.
We’re condemning these guys before they even get a chance to prove themselves. The Mets outfield is guilty of sucking before they have the opportunity to show what they’re capable of in the heat of battle. Does it look good right now? No, but we won’t know what the result will be until they get a chance.
I’ve said a few times that I’m not a fan of having two outfield positions run as platoons because I prefer to have more consistency in a lineup, but with no acquisition in sight, I need to change my tune. Who knows, we might see Andrew Brown or Collin Cowgill tear it up next month and win a starting job out-right, but that remains to be seen. A platoon may not be the worst thing in the world because it will keep these guys fresh throughout the course of the season, especially since none of them have played a full year in the Big Leagues.
There has been such a sea of negativity regarding the 2013 squad in Flushing from us and fans of opposing teams and I hate hearing it wherever I turn on a daily basis. All of us here at Rising Apple have decided to look at the glass half full instead of half empty, and it’s thankfully gotten us very excited about the upcoming season. Baseball is a very funny game, and even though the roster doesn’t look great, how players come together and perform as a team is more important than who is considered an established Big Leaguer and who is not.
It will be interesting to see how each of these young players respond to us bashing them throughout the winter months in advance of Spring Training. The best athletes are fueled by negativity and criticism. If I were them, I’d be incredibly eager to show everyone exactly what I’m made of and that I can indeed hold my own in the Bigs. These young ballplayers are hungry to prove themselves at the highest level, which is something else we can’t discount.
I’m not saying we’re going to see any baseball legends born from this crop of outfielders this season, but what I am saying is that we need to give them a chance to show what they have to offer before we write them off. It doesn’t matter what we say about them or what their statistics from past seasons are, but it’s what they do this season that matters most. So, although I would have liked to see some more moves for the outfield this winter, I’m eager to see what these guys can do. The one difference now compared to last year is that these players finally get a fair shake, and don’t have to worry about giving up their at-bats once players like Bay and Torres come off the disabled list.
So, we need to come to grips and embrace the outfield we have; it’s the only choice we have.