Guess who’s back New York Mets fans! That’s right Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been promoted for the third time this season. He will join the club as they begin their road trip in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. To make room for Nieuwenhuis, the Mets designated Bobby Abreu for assignment. Abreu had been with the team primarily as a bench player since Ike Davis was traded in April. He hit well when he first arrived but had cooled down of late including going 0 for his last 13 as a pinch hitter. His final numbers were .238, 1 HR and 14 RBI in 122 at bats though he retained an incredible eye at the plate and the ability to produce good at bats.
Nieuwenhuis on the other hand has hit .246 with 2 HR and 11 RBI in 57 at bats with the Mets in his multiple stints. This move comes after a month of July that saw Mets outfielders struggle to hit, the two biggest culprits being left fielders Eric Young Jr. and Chris Young. Nieuwenhuis gives the Mets a left-handed batter to use off the bench as well as an outfielder who is capable of playing all three positions at a high level.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis is gonna join the club in Washington, Mets announce.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) August 4, 2014
The big difference between the two players is defense. Abreu, at age 40, is no longer the Gold Glove outfielder he once was and really was a liability defensively in the National League. Nieuwenhuis provides youth and speed in the outfield.
As a result of the struggles of both Youngs, it seems likely that Nieuwenhuis will be given a chance to play left field on a somewhat consistent basis to see if he could be the solution to the left field problem going forward.
At this point in the season, it’s pretty clear that the Mets are not pushing for a postseason spot. Because of this, many moves from now to the end of the season may be tryouts for next year. Nieuwenhuis earned the first opportunity but don’t be surprised to see Matt den Dekker also get a look in the outfield as we approach September.
Over the past few seasons Kirk has head stretches of good play but has really failed to make a consistent impact. We’ll see if he make his presence gelt more this time around.
If nobody currently on the roster-be it Nieuwenuis, den Dekker, Andrew Brown, Cesar Puello or others- impresses the front office, it bears mentioning that it is still possible that Carlos Gonzalez can be offered up for a trade by the Rockies this winter. The Mets were reported as showing some interest prior to the July 31st deadline so that’s something to keep in mind, especially if nobody runs away with the job in the next two months of the season.
But for now the job appears to be Nieuwenhuis’s to lose, and while its true he has shown flashes of power and clutch hitting, the question still remains whether he can produce day in and day out. To do this, however, he’ll need to be given a real chance and 57 at bats in two different call ups is not nearly enough. I, for one, hope that Nieuwenhuis does play every day and is given the chance he deserves.