Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:00 AM
He seems like he's been around forever. He seems like he's been fighting for his job forever. At the same time, it seems like he hasn't fully felt secure in his position with the team in forever. Soooooooo what to do with Mr. Lucas Duda?
One thing is for sure, Lucas 'Smash' Duda can still destroy baseballs. In todays game, there simply aren't as many 25+ homer guys as there used to be. In 2015 showed that his 2014 power numbers were not a fluke. He produced a slightly higher OBP, a slightly higher SLG and a higher OPS in 2015 than in 2014 during his breakout 30 homer season.
On the other hand, Lucas had a career high 138 strikeouts in 2015. On the other hand, Lucas, in 42 less 2015 at bats, only had 3 less walks then he had in 2014. As we discussed throughout the season and into this offseason here all over Macks Mets is the art of pitch selection and aggressiveness. Time and time again we seemed to not only helplessly watch Lucas helplessly swing at breaking balls in the dirt, but also watch meatball after meatball go right down the middle of the plate for strike one. Throughout the past couple of seasons we randomly saw flashes of Lucas finally swinging at first pitch strikes, but it just never seemed to stick. When he was running hot, we was laying off the breaking stuff, seeing the ball well and making extremely solid contact. But in 2015 the inconsistency appeared more overwhelming then ever. Even in the playoffs Lucas went from a poor NLDS, to an amazing NLCS, to a quite world series, all the while only hitting 1 homerun in 14 playoff games. However it has been reported that Lucas has been tendered a contract for the upcoming season, presumably to again continue his role as starting first baseman for the New York Mets. Is this a good thing?
Lucas will be playing out the entire 2016 season as a 30 year old (hits that mark in Feb). Many would consider that part of the prime of an athletes career. But I'm wondering exactly what type of role the organization wants for Lucas at this time. The team made sure to not have him anywhere near the 3rd or 4th spot in the lineup once other players were signed and/or the Murph effect went into full effect in the playoffs. Michael Conforto began showing flashes of brilliance during his go around the team, and Travis d'Arnaud showed his power and ability (when healthy) to be very productive in the middle of the order, and with the team quietly and then consistently placing the captain into the 2 hole, it would certainly make no sense for TDA to not at least be hitting 5th in the Mets lineup.
So it appears that Lucas Duda, love em or hate em, remains a perennial 25 homer threat with 25+ doubles to boot. Even if he maintains close to his career batting average of .247 those numbers, along with a .798OPS don't seem that terrible. But does any of this mean he even has any trade value right now in the open market?
How valuable to teams around the league see power? We just watched our Mets lose to a team who didn't seem to be worried about a need for any 20 homer guys. I'll leave it to the experts to analyze the teams out there that might be a good fit in trade for Lucas. NL or AL it really shouldn't matter because despite throw-gate, Lucas really seemed to have had a solid defensive season manning the position last year. Duda saved many an errant through from my man Wilmer Flores, and often saved other errors from happening with his glove.
There's also the simple fact that the Mets, as an organization, don't exactly have another Ike/Duda dilemma going on for the upcoming season. I know there is talk of some wanting Daniel Murphy back to play first. I know there is talk of David Wright possibly needing to pick up a first baseman's mitt (this argument never made sense to me because that would make Wright be a big part of plays throughout a game and hence would cause more stress to the back).
The top first base prospect (of whom I'm the unofficial fan club president) will only be entering the 2016 season as a double A player. And before anyone goes crazy (I saw it all on twitter last year) Dom Smith is not going to be rushed to the major leagues. Yes, he just won the MVP of the league he played in. But that league was A ball. Oh, and he's 20 years old. There's a good chance that Dom Smith won't even sniff Viva Las Vegas unless they make the playoffs and the perhaps the organization wants him to sit on a playoff bench at the second highest level for experience.
What could the Mets even obtain in trade if they traded Lucas Duda? Ike Davis was under 30 years old, with a solid 30 homer tally under his belt, when terrible slumps and high K totals led to Mets only obtaining a middle reliever and a teenager in the trade when they decided on Lucas in the first place.
What do the Mets get in the guy if they keep him? The power is still there. The defense was good. His OBP remains respectable year after year. But how do you teach fire, aggressiveness and killer instinct? I'm sure we were all hoping the comfort level would now be there with Ike Davis long gone. He knew (he had to have known) there was literally nobody in the upper minors who was close to taking his place the past 2 years. So what kind of Lucas Duda can the Mets be keeping in 2015? I believe, as has been discussed on Macks Mets a few times now, Duda remains under 'team control' and won't officially have the option for full fledged free agency until the exact year that Dom Smith (knock on wood) is projected to be through all the remaining levels of minor league baseball and could conceivably be in line to take that next and final logical step to queens.
I guess here is my concern. At the moment, the Mets are said to be losing a homegrown playoff hero in Murph. They don't seem to seriously be in the running for Cespedes. Grandy is still going into 2016 at this point as the leadoff guy. Conforto is still very young. TDA is still very worrisome by all of us even if no longer deserved at this point and David Wright is..............
What say you my friends? Can a valuable return be had? Can Sandy and Company pull off some more magic in trade involving Lucas?
Should he stay, even 2 more full seasons, at a very reasonable salary, to hit 25+ homers, 25+ doubles and pretty decent OBP?