Mets outfield alignment about to get a lot more competitive
By Tim Boyle
An injury to Michael Conforto, a DFA for Keon Broxton, and other decisions by the New York Mets have made for a more competitive outfield.
If you’re superstitious or just believe every coincidental statistic you see, Michael Conforto is one of the last New York Mets players you want to see leave the lineup. As Rising Apple’s Edward Lennon wrote this week, his numbers in Mets victories are outstanding when compared to a loss. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re about to lose ten games in a row, but it does create a little havoc in the outfield.
Conforto has been the starting right fielder for the Mets this year, finally finding a cozy place in that little nook on the baseball field. Once the Mets lose him, though, they also lose the core of their outfield alignment.
On a given day in 2019, you could expect to see a variety of different Mets players beside Conforto in center field or left field. Brandon Nimmo has continued to travel around with Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton as the center field choices. Jeff McNeil’s role as the starting left field is not yet cemented because he’s also the best third base option on the roster, too.
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Now minus Conforto (injury) and Broxton (DFA), we’re about to see a new look to this outfield. Mickey Callaway has options and he has to quickly determine the perfect balance between defense and offense.
In Thursday’s loss against the Washington Nationals, Broxton made the final out by striking out with the bases loaded. Instead of sounding professional about it, Broxton sounded more blameful for the lack of playing time. Tell that to Dominic Smith who continues to hit well even with just occasional at-bats and a minor league demotion already this season. A day later, the Mets designated him for assignment and promoted Carlos Gomez to take his place.
Nimmo should see a lot of time in right field with Lagares as the main center field choice. I expect to see the Mets continue to use Davis in left field with McNeil serving at third base.
In addition to seeing Davis get his reps in left field, watch out for the return of Smith’s outfield glove. I don’t think his repaired sleep apnea will help his defense beyond the infield dirt, but it’s still important they give him an opportunity.
Then there’s Gomez. In the past, Gomez has been an All-Star player and if his Triple-A numbers this season are any indication, he’s not done at the big leagues just yet.
The Mets have bought themselves time before delivering bad news to someone. An inevitable roster crunch is coming for possibly more than one player. Jed Lowrie’s setback during rehab saved them from at least one tough move. Losing Conforto saves them twice-over, allowing the organization to give each of these men opportunities to play their best and earn a permanent spot on the roster.
We’re far from the home stretch. However, we are at a point in the season where the team needs to know which 25 men they want on the roster and in what role. They already decided Broxton wasn’t one of those men.
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By the end of this month, the team should better know which soldiers they want to march forward with in their outfield. Even if Conforto is still sidelined, it would be great to see some consistency with only the occasional lineup shake-up.