Tim Tebow had a terrific time yesterday.  

He got his first hit on a hot grounder between short and 3rd, proving to people like Grandy and Duda that the left side of the infield can be reached from a batter's box.  And he made a nifty diving catch in left field.  

After which, fellow giant and starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard was reported to have given him an appreciative hug, and added kind words of enthusiasm about, and respect for, Tebow after the game.  It is said that guys in the clubhouse really like him and also respect (and perhaps are inspired a bit) by his taking on this extreme challenge.

So...should he be out there, taking away playing time from the young prospects who served faithfully in the minors for years doing it the good, old-fashioned way?

2 people weighed in with a resounding "YES" on the subject: Sandy Anderson and Terry Collins. ("Me" makes 3).

They say YES for two essential reasons, besides an appreciation for him trying such a difficult challenge at age 29, after not having played baseball since high school.

1. He held his own in the AFL last fall and works like a dog.

2. They know he is 29 and are trying to challenge him in the extreme now, so that when he does go to the minors, it will allow him to get off to an accelerated running start with the bat against weaker pitching.  The game will seem slower and more achievable.

In other words, they don't know what this guy's upside is, and think it is at least possible it could be higher than most of their minor leaguers.

Tebow's challenge last Fall, going to the Arizona Fall League, was huge...after no pro baseball and  up against lots of high A, AA, and AAA guys who have been in baseball for years...he gets 72 PAs, and despite starting out 0-13, he only has the 20th worst OBP of the league's participants, meaning 19 prospects, playing for years, did worse.  And his OBP in his last 10 games, I recall, was .410....amazing.  

As I pointed out last fall, when the Mets sign an accomplished #1 draft pick hitter, who has played college ball like Conforto and Ike Davis, they start against much easier competition in Brooklyn.  High schoolers first rounders like Smith, Cecchini, and Nimmo?  All started their careers in the far easier Gulf Coast or Appalachian Leagues.  Starting cold turkey in the AFL? Extreme challenge.

Dominic Smith, by the way, was just 5 for 29 this spring after 1,763 minor league plate appearances after being drafted as the best pure young hitter in his year's draft.

So far this spring, against even better pitching competition, and still only starting with those 72 career AFL plate appearances, Tebow is 1-10, with 4 strikeouts and a HBP.  Not Reggie Jackson as Mr. October, but a very small sample, too small to judge.  

But let's delve in.  For instance, it has been pointed out that Juan Lagares is just 4 for 24, but has been lining out a lot.  Small samples, like his 4 for 24, can be deceiving.

Back to Tebow. In his first spring at bat, against a Cy Young winner, no less, he was called out on a low strike...good eye by him, bad eye by the ump.   Besides his single, his 1-10 includes a sharp grounder right at the 2B into a DP, and a liner to third that the 3B knocked down and threw him out on.  On one of his K's, he admitted he was trying to hit one out in a close game in late innings - who can't admire the guts?  Lots of guys would fear to try, and many big-time major league power hitters have fanned in similar late inning at bat situations trying to go deep. 

The Mets. I read, plan to use Tebow more in games this week.  

That will continue to upset the purists, who see minor league  OF guys like Travis Taijeron (8 for 26 and swinging well), Kevin Kaczmarski (an unsurprising 4 for 7), Wuilmer Becerra (4 for 20, 8 Ks),  Champ Stuart (4 for 20, 11 Ks), and John Mora (2-5) getting a few less at bats than they might.  

I'm a bit conflicted on that, too, especially when it comes to Taijeron and Kevin K, but I could make a better case that Stuart's huge career strikeout propensity (e.g., 168 Ks in 114 games in A and AA last year) should have given him ZERO at bats this spring, with his at bats spread to others instead, including Tebow.  But I am happy that Stuart at least got some ABs (I'd have preferred fewer, though).

Bottom line is, I think Tebow will make all his naysayers eat crow, as he puts up a surprisingly solid minor league season.  

Do not be surprised if he gets at least a few meaningless at bats at Citifield this September as a reward for a minor league season well done.  

At this very early stage, I'll go further and say that if he stays healthy and plays a lot this year, I'd not be surprised to see him vying for a reserve OF spot next year - in the majors.  All other things being equal, if a guy is as talented as the next guy, but is ALSO a gate attraction, who has the better chance of going the big league club.  The answer is obvious.

And, as I've stated before, if there is ANY position in the Mets' minors not bursting at the seams with lots of talented guys, it is the outfield.  Sure there are some really talented ones - but plenty of room to let him play instead of a low-ceiling minor leaguer.

For now, let's not get ahead of ourselves - let's see what Tebow does this week.  

May the word "TERRIFIC" resurface.


Reese Kaplan said...

Terry Collins is in rare form already. The Mets farm him out to the minor league camp and he publicly declares that Tebow won't play anymore as they need to give the reps to people fighting for a job at the major league level. What happens? He starts in left field, makes a terrific sliding catch and gets his first hit. So, if I were a betting man, off that tremendous day for Tebow personally, you could take it to the bank that now he's dead and buried as a reward for what he accomplished. It's the Skipper's pattern of "motivating" his players.

Mack Ade said...

The only bigger circus act in baseball in my lifetime was the Michael Jordan fiasco in the minors.

I have said enough about this guy.

Thomas Brennan said...

Send in the Clowns, there ought to be Clowns.

Thomas Brennan said...

I was sorry the Michael Jordan experiment was cut short by the strike. Probably his chance for a graceful exit from his mediocre (but not terrible) minor league results.

Mack Ade said...

Thomas singing Judy Collins... amazin'

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that Tebow attracts such a large fanbase despite his lack of success, and talent for that matter. I have not read a single scouting report that suggests he is anything but a washed up hs baseball player. Other than a 1-10 and not being the worst statistically in a weak AFL, what gives you such optimism? Terry and Sandy have given some faint praise, though someone has to try and rationalize this grab for a few extra dollars in spring training tickets and merchandise.

Where do you see that guys in the clubhouse love and respect him, or is that just more projection from the Tebow faithful?

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