On May 3, Terry Collins said that Juan Lagares, who had recently returned from the 15-day disabled list, was his ‘everyday’ center fielder. That proclamation shouldn’t have had to be made, since Lagares was the team’s most productive player by far, but Collins felt the need to say it anyway.
May 13, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (12) and New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada (11) sit in the dugout during a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Just about a week after saying that Lagares was – rightfully – the full time center fielder, Collins has made an about-face, nailing Lagares to the bench for two of the last three games in order to play Eric Young, Jr.
Lagares, who is hitting .296/.336/.439, and is playing his regularly spectacular brand of defense in center field, should be in the lineup on a daily basis. Wednesday night, during Rafael Montero‘s major league debut, the best defensive alignment should’ve been behind him, but it wasn’t.
In left field, Eric Young, Jr. cost the Mets a run with an ill-advised dive that turned a triple into a single with two outs in the second inning and the pitcher on deck.
So, why isn’t Juan Lagares playing?
Terry Collins said prior to Wednesday’s game that Young, Jr. was “too hot” to take out of the lineup.
Young, Jr. – like most of the Mets during their offensive explosion in the Bronx – had two very good offensive games on Monday and Tuesday. When you look at the bigger picture, though, you’ll see those two games are Young, Jr’s. only multi-hit games over the last month.
When someone is your everyday center fielder, as Lagares is in both name and ability, he shouldn’t ever sit two games in three days as Lagares has.
In Lagares, the Mets have perhaps the best defensive center fielder in baseball, who is blossoming offensively.
In Young, Jr., the Mets have a poor defender with one plus tool (speed), who is best suited as a fourth outfielder.
As has been the case since spring training started, this isn’t a hard decision.
If Collins returns Lagares to the starting lineup on Thursday night, in what is Jacob deGrom‘s major league debut, the last three days can be looked at as an aberration.
However, if Lagares remains out of the lineup again – for a third time in four days – this will have become a trend. And if this becomes a trend, that will represent an enormous problem for the Mets.