“We continue to look, but I think, realistically at this point, there’s not a lot left on the shelf,” general manager Sandy Alderson said on Sirius XM’s MLB Network Radio yesterday. “So at some point we have to realize that, well, perhaps the outfield is not the strength of our team. But at least going into spring training we may be looking at what we have and not being able to make an addition.” -Sandy Alderson, MLB Network, January 27
Ranking the outfields, 1962/1993/2013 Mets: ‘62 and ‘93 by WAR, ‘13 by projected WAR:
1. Bobby Bonilla, 1993, 3.0
2. Frank Thomas, 1962, 2.2
3. Richie Ashburn, 1962, 1.9
4. Ryan Thompson, 1993, 1.7
5. Jeromy Burnitz, 1993, 1.4
6. Collin Cowgill, 2013, 1.2
7. Jim Hickman, 1962, 1.1
8. Dave Gallagher, 1993, 0.9
9. Lucas Duda, 2013, 0.7
10. Joe Orsulak, 1993, 0.6
11. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, 2013, 0.4
12. Mike Baxter, 2013, 0.4
Now, the 2013 Mets project to have far a far better infield than either the ‘62 or ‘93 Mets. But it is important to keep in mind a pair of issues: the infield will need to make up a sizable gap that exists between this year’s Mets and both the ‘62 team and ‘93 team. And both of these teams lost well over 100 games, so just making up the gap with the infield is go get back to even with a pair of 100+ loss teams.
And it is worth keeping in mind: the offseason’s inactivity means that injuries to any of the four infielders will result in a replacement level player at each position, or worse.
Just to reiterate: this is not to say the 2013 Mets will be worse than the 1993 or 1962 Mets. But their outfield probably will be. And the very reason you don’t enter a season with such little talent is your Plan A is, attrition almost always forces you to find Plan B or Plan C during a long baseball season.
And if you’d like to point out that the 2000 Mets went to the World Series with a limited outfield, Benny Agbayani (1.9), Jay Payton (1.9) and Derek Bell (1.5) rank near the top of this list. Lenny Harris, in 176 plate appearances, primarily as a pinch hitter, put up a 0.9 WAR, better than all projected 2013 Mets’ OF other than Cowgill.
So: not the same thing.
I am well aware that this is a rebuilding season. I am shocked that, even by post-Madoff bankroll standards, the Mets haven’t done more to at least approximate a major league outfield.