New York Mets: what to do when Chris Young returns

The New York Mets made it a point to address their outfield this offseason. However, it has left them with a somewhat unique problem. They will be left with four outfielders to fill three spots. Chris Young played only an inning before hitting the disabled list but is about to begin his rehab assignment with Triple-AAA Las Vegas. The Mets have been playing an outfield of Eric Young Jr., Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson in his absence. The question is, which member of that outfield gets benched?

new york mets

Chris Young’s return could mean time on the bench for other Mets outfielders

Granderson will be playing just about everyday no matter what because of the investment the Mets gave him this offseason. He is expected to provide 20 home run power and certainly will not be coming off the bench.

Lagares has been very impressive in the early going this season, including hits in 9 out of the first 10 games and a team high six RBI. Additionally, he is almost certainly the best defensive outfielder on the roster.

Eric Young Jr. got off to a very slow start but in the series against Atlanta he showed his value. He is a spark plug capable of creating runs through his speed. He’s the best leadoff hitter the Mets have and stole 5 bases in three games against the Braves.

Chris Young was signed to a one year $7.25 million contract this offseason. That is a hefty price tag to pay to a player to ride the bench. Young is also expected to provide 15 home run power and some speed to the lineup as well as solid defense in the outfield.

The most likely solution will be a platoon in left field of Young and Young Jr., with Chris getting the occasional day in centerfield to get Lagares a day off. Chris Young may even find himself a near direct replacement for Eric as he may see some time in the leadoff spot. Other possibilities for the leadoff position could be Lagares or even Daniel Murphy.

new york mets

Juan Lagares is likely to remain the Mets’ starting center-fielder because of what he provides offensively and defensively

Eric Young Jr. would likely still see significant playing time against certain tough right-handed pitchers as well as as a pinch-runner and a valued switch hitter off the bench. It’s also easier to make Eric the bench player. Younger players have tougher times adjusting to being pinch-hitters and that role could be detrimental to their confidence. A veteran such as Eric Young Jr. should be able to handle the role better and be effective as a 4th outfielder.

This would mean that Juan Lagares will be playing almost every day in centerfield. Lagares was pretty impressive in both aspects of his game last season and this year he has shown to have improved his patience at the plate as well as his clutch hitting while still maintaining a flair for the incredible in the outfield.

With Chris Young set to return in under a week, the Mets will likely be taking a close look at both Juan Lagares and Eric Young Jr., but expect to Lagares to have a leg up to keeping his starting job.


  • guest

    If the David/ Duda 1st base issue doesn’t get resolved by the end of April or say, 5/10/14, then Murph to 1st, Eric Y to 2b, leaving the OF with C.Young, Lagares to CF and Granderson to RF, with Brown and Duda or someone brought up from the farm system. I am still hoping that Ike will win the job at 1st though.

    • paqza

      People keep repeating this nonsense and I don’t understand why. Lucas Duda is a better hitter than Eric Young Junior. Ike Davis is a better hitter than Eric Young Junior. So why would you replace either of them in the lineup with Eric Young Junior?!?!?!

      Leave Murphy at 2B and keep EYJ on the bench where he belongs. Duda and Ike are both better hitters than Eric Young Junior.

  • Eric Kench

    You need Eric Young Jr. in the lineup because he provides the element of speed and in spite of what everyone thinks good defense. Alderson has no one but himself to blame for this logjam in the outfield. What was the purpose of signing Chris Young a natural centerfielder when you have Lagares and den Dekker who could play centerfield as well as anybody? What was Alderson thinking when he made this signing?

    • paqza

      Chris Young is nearly as fast, a much, much, much better hitter (5 for 5 with 2 HR and a double today) and plays better defense (range, routes, arm) than Eric Young Junior. EYJ will be a bench player when CY comes back. Alderson signed CY to be a corner outfielder, not to play CF. However, if Lagares gets hurt, CY is a better replacement than, say, Nieuwenhuis, and has a more proven track record than Den Dekker (though that could be a pretty good platoon with CY and MDD getting at bats).

      • Eric Kench

        Chris Young had problems playing the corner outfield positions in the past. He is one of the most inconsistent hitters in baseball. As for Eric Young you can’t just bench the N.L. Stolen Base Leader. What would everyone think if Collins decided to bench him?

        He was a Gold Glove Nominee because he makes highlight reel catches.