Greetings from the Citi Field press box, where I have witnessed Jeremy Hefner fool no one in the first inning, and the Mets trail before coming to bat, 1-0.
Why exactly is Jordany Valdespin not in the Thursday lineup? Well, the pitcher, Hyun-jin Ryu, is a lefty. Not only that, early returns suggest more than a bit of a platoon split, with lefties posting a .411 OPS so far, righties at a robust .806. And Valdespin has significantly better numbers against righties in his career to date (along with all nine of his career home runs.)
Still, it is hard to imagine the Mets have three outfielders with a combination of current production and potential help in 2014 and beyond that can match Valdespin; really, I don’t see anyone. This isn’t to say I think Valdespin is a particularly good bet. But he is younger and has better tools than any Mets’ outfielder, and he’s doing more right now than anyone but Lucas Duda.
And even if he struggles against a lefty, Ryu or elsewhere, learning whether he can or can’t hit lefties is part of what the Mets ought to be using 2013 for.
I also wanted to weigh in on Rafael Montero, who the Mets love, as does anyone who can appreciate peripherals like 27 strikeouts and one walk in 22 2/3 innings. (If those numbers don’t get you excited, time to find a different sport.)
I know the Mets aren’t swimming in starting pitching right now at the big league level. (For instance, the guy pitching right now ought to be a long man.) But I don’t want to see Rafael Montero for a second in 2013, with the possible exception of bringing him up as a reward come September. Some guys can make the jump directly from Double-A; others find Triple-A to be a useful, even necessary step in development.
But Montero, at the moment, has four starts at either level. And the 2013 payoff just isn’t high enough to justify potentially altering, or even slowing down, Montero’s development. Fortunately, it appears Paul DePodesta agrees.