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Andrew Brown: Right And Wrong For The 2013 Mets

Posted By Howard Megdal On January 2, 2013 @ 1:45 pm In Player moves,Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

The news that the Mets signed Andrew Brown [1], recently of the Colorado organization, was met by the usual array of derision and defense of the Mets that seems all too common on Twitter right now.
This is not merely a Mets phenomenon: generally, criticism draws accusations of nihilist negativity, support leads to assertions of blind faith. There’s little room for finesse.
What is interesting to me about Andrew Brown is that he both completely validates what Sandy Alderson is doing, given the financial circumstances of the team, and illustrates why this team has such a low ceiling for the next few years, given the financial circumstances of the team.
Why Brown is the right call should be fairly clear once you hear what he’s done in the high minors: he’s pounded lefties while playing corner outfield spots, along with some third and first base. In one player, he can be a backup to Ike Davis and part of potential platoons with Mike Baxter and Lucas Duda in the corners.
It is no accident that Paul DePodesta tweeted his high minors numbers from one side [2]. When you have Lucas Duda and Mike Baxter as your corner outfielders, Andrew Brown is the obvious complement.
So here’s the problem: when you have Lucas Duda and Mike Baxter as your corner outfielders, you actually have a real need to get a real corner outfielder. Baxter, at least, can field the position, and hit righties enough that experimenting with a Baxter/Brown platoon seems to make sense.
That leaves Lucas Duda, alone, in an outfield spot. No offense to Duda, who tries hard, but he is neither an outfielder nor particularly likely to hit lefties at any position. That also means, should any of those three, plus Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Collin Cowgill falter in center, the backup plan is… Nothing.
Just take that in. All five, you can make a case for as someone to take a flier on, organizational depth given a shot to be more. You don’t plan on that guy to succeed, but you hope.
This Mets outfield is five such guys. No givens. And no backups. That’s insane.
And lest you think the Mets are keeping a spot open for an outfield prospect near-ready… Take a look at their system. They’re not. Which means this is the same problem next year, too, barring a larger move.
It is hard to imagine what that move could be this winter, with most of the starting-caliber outfielders already signed. Maybe Scott Hairston? He’s of course, a proven quantity. Alas, proven platoon quantity, but that is a step up.
With each passing day, though, it becomes obvious that the reason the Mets are treating outfield (don’t mind the singular, that is actually three positions) the way they are treating the fifth starter spot (Zack Wheeler is coming!) is the common denominator: they aren’t in position to spend the minimal amount of money required to field even a marginally competitive team. Nickeas finished with an OPS+ of 32. And when Josh Thole cratered, the Mets had a gaping positional hole, since their fallback plan was… Nothing. Not because of tremendous faith in Mike Nickeas. I mean, if you believe that, you are simply selling Sandy Alderson’s baseball acumen short. Also, he told us as much last winter. It was bullpen arm or backup catcher.
This is not a choice a major league team should face. You’ll see substandard baseball next year not because the Mets are rebuilding, but because regardless of the farm system, ownership hasn’t managed to afford the basic building blocks of a baseball team.
So it is no different than the team’s decision to go with Mike Nickeas as backup catcher last year. Except the decay has reached deeper into the roster. Now, we’re not talking about a backup, but 3/8 of the everyday lineup. Not the back end of the bullpen, but a starting rotation spot. The on-field results may differ-teams do occasionally get lucky. Not often, though. Not this lucky.
Under those circumstances, by all means, bring in Andrew Brown. That’s exactly the right call.
But expecting a team of Andrew Browns to all pan out is silly. So is blaming Sandy Alderson, given resources that can only procure a team of Andrew Browns, when it falls short.

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URL to article: http://mets.lohudblogs.com/2013/01/02/andrew-brown-right-and-wrong-for-the-2013-mets/

URLs in this post:

[1] Andrew Brown: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=brown-004and

[2] Paul DePodesta tweeted his high minors numbers from one side: https://twitter.com/pdepo/status/286511160080080896


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