GET A BIG BAT, OR GO CHEAP, IN THE OUTFIELD? SOME THOUGHTS by Tom Brennan
Buyer’s remorse – we’ve had a lot of that in Met Land in recent years. Santana? Yeah, a few good years, then stuck paying the huge albatross of a contract with nothing to show for it the last half of the contract. Jason Bay? Cavernous fences and still managing to head butt them made that a – well – brutal investment. Chris Young? $7MM to do exactly what again? Ollie Perez – 3 years, $36 million when 3 years, 36 bucks might have been more appropriate. David Wright? That “big apple” is the lump rising in Met owners’ throats wondering if David will ever be David again, with $100 million + left to pay.
Can you blame them for thinking smaller, cheaper? Not as sexy, but sure a lot easier to shift away from a guy who is major league minimum to someone else cheap. Sometimes that works – sometimes better, because those guys are often younger and improving. The big contract guys are like a well-maintained, high mileage Ferrari – looks great, but is it gonna fall apart as soon as you drive it home from the showroom.
Hence, my outfield for 2015 looks like this:
· Granderson – expensive, getting older, hopefully the fences being moved in are the elixir he needs. Or we may all need an elixir.
· Lagares – a young Roberto Clemente. I said it last spring, I’m sticking to it.
· Den Dekker – now it gets interesting. Young, cheap, unproven. History of failure. History of subsequent real, tangible improvement. The rare guy who realized he needed an extreme makeover – at least with the bat – did it, and it worked. He’ll give us less power than a big, splashy, expensive, aging free agent that we can write about critically for the entirety of his multi-year contract when he “Roberto Alomars” us with mediocre play after years of top notch play – for other teams. Dekker, were he to get 500 Pas next year, I project at .275/.375/.425, 20 steals, stellar defense. $500Gs. Sign me up.
· Cesar Puello – sure, he struggled, but from July forward, he played 42 games in AAA, and was close to .290/.400/.500. Lots of folks don’t know but despite his early 2014 struggles, exacerbated by sporadic playing time, his two year (2013/2014) totals, slightly more than a 162 everyday equivalent, are 649 at bats, .290, 41 doubles, 4 triples, 23 HRs, 37 of 45 steals, and .380 on base %, over 100 runs, over 100 RBIs. Superior vs. lefties, a work in progress vs. righties, so a great platoon option with den Dekker – and cheap, cheap, cheap.
· 5th slot – I can live with Eric Campbell, as he gives IF and OF versatility, but his 2nd half fade in 2014 greatly concerns me. While I am on board with Dekker and Puello, frankly, going with those two could lead to failure, as neither is a proven commodity, so I like the idea of a Delmon Young seems to be just what this outfield mix needs. Could be Cuddyer too - not choosy there.
I think that Nimmo shows up major league ready in late 2015, and Conforto in late 2016, as starting outfielder-caliber players, so why block up the roadway with huge, risky contracts that can turn into Bay or Grandy (or more recently, Sin Soo Choo)?
Outfield decisions are not made in a vacuum, so how would the above align with the rest of the offense?
I am a fan of Flores at SS, and would be fine if he started next year, but I would trade excess pitching not for a costly multi-year, hi risk outfielder, but instead for a young star caliber SS Owings or Castro, if we can keep the core of Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, Matz and Thor on our team. Flores an get at bats at 3rd, SS, 2B, and perhaps 1B.
I’d also keep Plawecki, get d’Arnaud or Kevin to grab a 1B and 3B glove, and see if some of their ABs could be shifted there to keep them both. Catchers are injury prone, nature of the trade, so why not go that route for a year or two?
I wish baseball were different with the long term contract risk. I’d gladly give Nelson Cruz 2 years, $50MM, but I get the willies thinking of the # of years he would demand. Let some other team sign him for 5 or 7 years – we don’t need that mistake.
Cheap, cost controlled – I’m OK with a roster like that because I feel the talent is there this year to do it.
What sayest thou?