The conundrum in the outfield continues for New York Mets manager Terry Collins, as he has four outfielders and only three spots in which to put them. Just when Eric Young Jr. seemed like the odd man out, he got a chance to play and became the team’s spark plug at the top of the lineup. Now Juan Lagares has sat for three of the past four games when in fact it should be Chris Young who gets relegated to the duties of the Mets’ fourth outfielder.
Outside of the occasional day off, there is no reason for Lagares to be out of the lineup, especially when the Mets are home in the spacious Citi Field. Even if he’s not hitting at the rate he was the first two weeks of the season, Lagares is far too valuable defensively to put on the bench, and every day that Collins leaves him out of the lineup he’s making a mistake and doing his pitching staff a disservice.
With Curtis Granderson hitting over .294 with four home runs in the month of May — albeit with the help of his old stomping grounds in Yankee Stadium — the Mets can’t afford to take him out of the lineup at all in hopes that their $60 million man can stay hot.
That leaves Young and Young Jr. vying for the third spot in the outfield, and as long as Young Jr. is providing a spark at the top of the order and scoring runs on a regular basis, he needs to stay in the lineup at the expense of Young. Aside from providing a little bit of power with three home runs and six doubles, Young has struggled at the plate, with an on-base percentage under .300 which is unacceptable.
After missing the first two weeks of the season, Young has only played in 25 games this season so he could just need more time to get going. However, with Young coming off the worst season of his career in 2013, the Mets can’t assume that more at bats is the answer, as it’s quite possible that Young simply isn’t the player he once was.
Until Young shows signs of life or one of the other Mets’ outfielders go into a slump, he needs to be relegated to the bench as the team’s fourth outfielder and get only one or two starts per week. Right now, Young is the least valuable of the Mets’ four outfielders, and unless that changes, Collins’ lineup needs to reflect that.