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On Left And Right Field Defense

Posted By Howard Megdal On April 11, 2011 @ 11:18 am In Citi Field,Player moves,Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

A frustrating loss Sunday, to be sure, but the results spurred the Mets into action [1]. Truly, I didn’t understand the Blaine Boyer acquisition this offseason- a pitcher with as many walks as strikeouts in 2010, perhaps the hope was that he had rediscovered the form that made him a strong prospect with the Braves. [2]

Pretty clearly, he hadn’t. So off he goes, and we’ll see what Isringhausen and Igarashi can provide. This is how to build a bullpen, by the way. The same performance variations can be yours by paying big dollars and committing multiple years to relievers, only then you are stuck with them.

My primary question, and one I plan to ask Terry Collins the next time I see him, is why he seems to value left field defense so much more than right field defense. The first nine games have provided a window [3] into his view of both. Of the nine games in right field so far, Carlos Beltran started six of them. On his three days off, Lucas Duda got the call each time. In left field, without Jason Bay around, Willie Harris started six times, Scott Hairston twice, and Lucas Duda once.

Now, I’m not just piling on after Duda’s eighth-inning misplay yesterday. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t see both Harris and Hairston as better defensive options than Duda. And that isn’t to suggest Duda should have been relegated to the bench- the whole point of having him in New York was that he’d see action.

But why right field instead of left? This wasn’t a simple park issue: Duda got starts in right in Florida, Philadelphia and back at Citi Field. It isn’t a particular pitcher issue: his starts came with Jonathon Niese, RA Dickey and Chris Young on the hill. His lone start in left came with Niese pitching as well.

With Duda back in Triple-A, it will be fascinating to see if Collins gives any outfield starts to Daniel Murphy (from this view, a massive mistake), or if Harris and Hairston will platoon in games Beltran plays, and provide the outfield corners when Beltran doesn’t.

To be clear, I’m not saying Collins necessarily has this preference, and if he does, he may have reasons why. But the use of his defensive resources so far have favored left field over right field, an unorthodox choice. And yesterday, it helped cost the Mets an eighth-inning lead.

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[1] spurred the Mets into action: http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110410&content_id=17605098&notebook_id=17605104&vkey=notebook_nym&c_id=nym

[2] Image: http://mets.lohudblogs.com/files/2011/04/Mets-Phillies-Basebal_Megd2.jpg

[3] have provided a window: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYM/2011-fielding.shtml

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