The New York Mets are poised to see the return of a legendary figure in their history on Monday against the San Francisco Giants. Okay, I know I’m just talking about Mike Baxter, but he was the one who put his body on the line to save Johann Santana’s no-hitter on June 1st. The left fielder injured his shoulder on the diving catch and has been on the disabled list rehabbing in the minors. This is where the Mets outfield situation gets very murky.
Manager Terry Collins will have plenty of decisions to make with platoons being that interest in Scott Hairston has been waning at the approach of the July 31st trade deadline. That, coupled with the mysterious need to play Jason Bay has left fans with another second half nightmare while awaiting football season to start. It is assumed that Collins will put in the platoon system of Bay and Baxter in left field while mixing time in right field between Hairston and fan favorite Jordanny Valdespin. This will leave very little possibility for any of the above to find a groove and will undoubtedly hurt the Mets going forward.
Baxter was hitting .323 with 10RBIs and an OPS of .915 when he was injured and played the outfield well. He will definitely be a welcome return for a struggling team that has taken themselves out of contention with shoddy defense and putrid pitching for the better part of the month of July. The ideal situation would be to trade Hairston, release Bay, and allow Baxter and Valdespin to flourish the remainder of the season. But this is the Mets, and there will be no such hope that things will progress smoothly.
All fans should be happy to see Baxter return and earn his spot for 2013. In a full year, you may only expect 8HRs, 60RBIs, and a .280 average, but that production trumps the embarrassment that has been Jason Bay since he signed with New York. The defense will improve with his return along with the energy he brings to this young club. Let’s just hope Baxter will play well enough to show ownership that they no longer need the likes of Bay around.
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