Welcome to part 7 of the 11 part series on the 2017 New York Mets roster (assuming the choices exist among the existing personnel in the majors and minors). Today we'll see who screams loudest, "Put me in coach, I'm ready to play today." Let's see who can be centerfield.
Yes, the power is there but the poor batting average and RBI production are in serious decline. Furthermore, does it make sense to entrust arguably the most important defensive position in the outfield to a guy on 37 year old legs? He's playing a lot of CF now while the manager juggles Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce as best he can, but looking for Granderson to be the full time solution out there is foolhardy.
When it seemed as if the Mets were destined primarily due to injuries to finish at or around .500, I was beating the drum loudly to let Conforto play CF on a regular basis to see how he would handle it. You can't learn the position from the bench, and with Juan Lagares on the shelf it seemed pretty much up for grabs. Then the second consecutive September surge arrived and Conforto has found himself sitting on the bench nearly every day. At this point no one knows if he's capable of playing there or not.
I often quote Jim Bouton's Ball Four with respect to the pecking order of people associated with a ballclub. Superstar player is higher than the manager, so don't expect Cespedes to return to CF anytime soon.
He's a Gold Glover who shows flashes of potential with the bat. He'll never win a batting title but he's not likely going to embarrass himself out there either. His low home run potential means he had better play up the speed aspect of his game if he's got aspirations to be a starter.
Oddly the Mets have not given him much opportunity to play his natural position. He doesn't have Lagares' speed nor throwing arm, but he seems pretty athletic overall and mentally focused when he plays the game.
Again, it hinges upon the Yoenis Cespedes contract situation. If he stays, then Conforto may actually get a shot to play there. If not, Conforto likely goes to LF and old man Granderson is the likely recipient of the starting nod. If it was up to me, if they do wind up playing Conforto in LF or shifting to 1B I'd look at a platoon of Lagares and Nimmo unless one wins the job outright. It worked out pretty well when they did that with Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra, no?