Lucas Duda Is Hitting .224

By Rich Sparago

The Mets went into spring training with many questioning their outfield. Sandy Alderson even joked about his contingent of outfielders, asking “what outfield?”  However, Alderson decided to break camp with the players he had, and essentially roll the dice. So far, the dice have come up snake eyes. The statistics of the outfielders currently on the 25-man roster are disturbing.

   Player                                       Avg.                      OBP

Lucas Duda                               .224                        .372

Marlon Byrd                              .261                        .293

Juan Lagares                           .167                         .219

Andrew Brown                         .200                         .294

Jordany Valdespin                  .242                         .296

Mike Baxter                             .269                         .381

Lucas Duda certainly is not solely responsible for the outfield’s offensive woes.

March 30, 2013; Sarasota, FL, USA; New York Mets left fielder Lucas Duda (21) works out prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

But after a hot start, he has cooled considerably, and has struck out in about 33% of his official at-bats. The lack of production from the outfield is almost shocking, and has been a major contributor to the team’s 14-19 start to the season. When one sees statistics like these, the first reaction is to ask when help may be on the way. The problem is, at the high levels of the minor leagues, there isn’t help to be found. In the hitter-friendly PCL, AAA outfielder Jamie Hoffman is hitting .305, and old friends Collin Cowgill and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are hitting .261 and .245 respectively. Matt Den Dekker is close to returning to action, but he would likely be at least 2 months away from being able to help in Flushing.

The other option to improve the outfield is via trades. The Mets do not seem inclined to begin dealing to try to improve the major league club. This is understandable, since the Mets’ most-desired trading chip is starting pitching, and it would be counter-productive to trade pitching at this point. So where does Sandy Alderson go from here?

He probably goes nowhere. We all knew that this was to be a transition year, when bad contracts were allowed to expire while young pitching was afforded the opportunity to develop. However, Alderson has an obligation to put a competitive team on the field, and to the extent that each day Terry Collins has to select 3 players from the list above, Alderson has not done that. Alderson claimed he was actively trying to improve the outfield last winter, and that he was “in” on Justin Upton and Michael Bourn. These players did not end up in blue and orange; perhaps the prices (players and/or money) were too high. But should Alderson have stopped there? It’s clear he knew what he didn’t have, and that he made a conscious choice to go north with this team. To every action there is a reaction. The reaction to Alderson’s choice can be seen in the standings, and as was the case today at Citi, also in the stands.

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