Friday, October 12, 2007

Offseason Needs: Outfield


Carlos Beltran, Moises Alou, Shawn Green, Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez, Marlon Anderson, Damion Easley, Jeff Conine, David Newhan, Ricky Ledee. All of these characters started in the Met outfield this season.

In any given season, one almost has to assume that Carlos Beltran will be shut down for some period of time. Seeing as he is the only sure thing in the OF going into next year, it figures that having a couple of reliable guys around him would really benefit the club. I like Moises Alou, I really do, and I can't say enough about how he performed this year
when he was around. There was an endless period of waiting for Alou to get healthy, and this coupled with the Milledge/Green/Gomez shuffle set up a somewhat nebulous team identity. Most folks seem to want Moises back, and that seems likely from the Mets' end as well, but I truthfully don't see that as being a smart move. Is half a year of Alou and half a year of a replacement player going to benefit the team much more than bringing in a decent outsider, who will probably play a better LF?

Then there is right field. For starters, Shawn Green has absolutely no shot here, though again I like him (My season tix are in RF, so I develop a report...). Milledge becomes the likely go-to guy, and I wouldn't have a problem with that if a replacement LF is brought in, but I'm not sure Milledge is still a Met come April. Any deal for a real front-line starter probably involves Milledge, and to me, Carlos Gomez is not ready to be a full-time Major League player.

Consequently, there are two conceivable vacancies in the expansive Shea outfield in 2008. Here are the notable potential free agents:
Bobby Abreu (Team Option, 16mil), Barry Bonds, Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter, Milton Bradley, Aaron Rowand, Mike Cameron, Adam Dunn, Brady Clark, Luis Gonzalez, Darin Erstad, Geoff Jenkins, Corey Patterson, Brad Wilkerson, Rob Mackowiak, Sammy Sosa, Kosuke Fukudome.

Abreu's option getting picked up or not largely will depend on the A-Rod/Posada/Rivera dealings, and Dunn's team option is almost a sure no-go. Jenkins has an option that I'm not sure about, but I could see a Brewers team that close to contention picking it up. You can pretty much rule out Cameron, Bonds and Sosa, and probably a few others based on lack of talent. The interesting names here are Abreu, Andruw, Hunter, Dunn and Jenkins. Then, of course, there's Japanese superstar Kosuke Fukudome.

I don't want anything to do with Andruw, despite reports that the Mets have interest. First off, the idea of moving Beltran in to right and Andruw in center is just ludicrous. The legend of Andruw Jones the center fielder has gone too far at this point. Yes, Andruw was historically good with the glove early in his career, but he has been in a steady decline to the point of being a less than average CF at this point. See Jayson Stark's article from last May
. Add his horrible offensive year (.222/.311/.413), the sour taste Met fans have for him, and the immensity of the contract he is surely due, and not signing Andruw Jones is a no-brainer.

I have the same feeling about Fukudome. There's really no way to know exactly how he would perform stateside, and a certain second baseman currently playing in the NLCS leaves a bit of soreness around here when it comes to investing a whole lot into Japanese players. For the record, Kaz Matsui's Japanese numbers (.309/.361/.486, 306 sb's in 9 years) are about as good as, maybe better when you add the sb's and the weak offensive position Matsui plays at, than Fukudome's (.305/.397/.543, 70 sb's in 9 years). Granted, there have been plenty of success stories out of Japan, but as many bust. I don't know that this team could afford the fallout of a Kaz Matsui v. 2.0, complete with a huge contract, after the collapse of this season. If they sign him and he's incredible, great, but I don't see it.

Of the other big names, I like Dunn the best. I like Rowand, and would be happy to see him signed, but Rowand's bat tends to fluctuate year by year, and I'm not sure how much of a shot the Mets have at him based on level interest elsewhere. The same goes for Hunter, who is basically blocked by Beltran, and will be brought in by someone else to be a franchise CF. Abreu is a wild card, because the Yankees could easily sign him, and his reputation, fair or not, as a non-gritty, weak clubhouse player could hurt a lot on a team in need of fire. A lot of people hate Adam "Nice Guy Dave Kingman" Dunn, but I don't see how he hurts. There are plenty of bats on this team that can provide a base hit when you need it, and the power he would provide in the lineup easily makes up for the low average. How many times did the Mets trail by 3+ runs this year, and seem finished if Wright and Beltran didn't do it? I would love a Dunn signing if Alou were gone and a solid glove started in RF.

Essentially, as far as position players go, this team has question marks at four positions: C, 2B, LF, RF. In my eyes, two of these positions need to be filled with impact players, and seeing as this is probably impossible at 2B, and improbable at C, at least one needs to come in the form of an outfielder. Just not Andruw, please, not Andruw.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You forgot Ben Johnson


-The Kid