One of the most surprising things to come out of the mouth of New York Mets manager Terry Collins prior to the season opener was that there would be no platoons in the Mets outfield, at least to start the season.
For a team with so many questions in the outfield entering spring training and nearly as many questions at the close of spring training, having three full-time starters is rather surprising. Considering that the Mets have six outfielders on their roster makes it an even more curious move.
Lucas Duda being the everyday left fielder is not a surprise. Collins said entering the spring that Duda was the only outfielder guaranteed of a spot on the team, and after having some profound struggles early in the spring, Duda bounced back nicely and finished the spring strong. There should be no issue for the Mets playing Duda everyday, although he could be subbed out late in games for defensive purposes.
Collin Cowgill being the full-time center fielder is a bit of a surprise. It’s not that Cowgill didn’t earn the job in spring training, which he did, but he’s not exactly an established big leaguer, which makes it a surprise that he is being handed the job full-time. With the presence of lefties Jordany Valdespin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, it’s odd that there would not be a platoon of any kind planned by Collins for center field.
In right field, veteran Marlon Byrd has won the full-time job. Despite having a great spring, Byrd is coming off a rough season in 2012 and he’s getting on in years, so it’s still questionable whether he can be productive for the entire season. The Mets also have Mike Baxter, who was a great asset off the bench last season and will need regular at bats in order to stay sharp and productive as a pinch hitter.
Obviously, we’ve yet to see how the playing time in the outfield will pan out after one game, but Collins saying that there would be no platoons in the outfield raised some eyebrows.
It may not be something that he can stick to, so we’ll see how long it actually lasts, especially when it’ll be wise — and eventually necessary — to get Valdespin, Baxter, and Nieuwenhuis regular playing time.