With Kirk Nieuwenhuis on crutches, it is worth considering who the alternatives are for the New York Mets to play center field. Roughly speaking, here’s how I see the depth chart.
1. Collin Cowgill: Reasons for optimism include his 8-for-16 start in spring training, if you are into small sample size/spring stats, and an ability to field the position well. Reasons for worry are a career 75 OPS+ in 216 major league plate appearances (small sample, but significantly larger than the spring), a .514 major league OPS against righties, a .685 OPS in 2012 at Triple-A, playing for a team in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League that posted an .814 OPS overall in 2012.
2. Jordany Valdespin: Reasons for optimism include that home run against Jonathan Papelbon, seven hits in 18 spring at-bats, an ability to draw walks in winter league ball this past offseason for the first time, and superior athleticism. Reasons for worry are his terrifying inability to track fly balls and no real ability to hit left-handed pitching to date.
3. Matt den Dekker: Reasons for optimism include a clearly major league ready ability to field and a really strong half-season at Double-A, complete with .960 OPS. Reasons for worry are his contact rate wasn’t very good even at Double-A, and his half-season at Triple-A saw his OPS dip to .629, suggesting that he isn’t ready yet to hit Triple-A pitching, let alone major league pitching.
4. Marlon Byrd: Reasons for optimism include six hits in 15 spring at-bats, and that he was somewhat good in 2010. Reasons for worry are the two years since, and that he’s 35.
So those are your options, Mets fans. Who’s your starting center fielder?