Strangely enough, Lucas Duda getting shelved due to a stress fracture in his back could give the New York Mets their best everyday lineup.Lucas Duda is, indeed, a monster. Not only is the man a monster at first base, but he acts as one from the left side of home plate while in the batter’s box.
In fact, prior to the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes, Duda represented the only legitimate power the New York Mets regularly sent up to the plate. Just look at his 30 home runs in 2014 and 27 a season ago as evidence.
After seven home runs in 39 games this season, Duda, the monster, is now permanently (6-10 weeks, though most suspect more) on the shelf due to a stress fracture in his lower back.
In a cruel twist, the guy who once represented all of the Mets power, could benefit his team’s everyday lineup by sitting out.
It all comes down to Juan Lagares.
There’s no sugarcoating how poorly Lagares played in 2015. Playing with a decently sized four-year, $23 million deal (expires after 2019 season), Lagares could only muster 6 HR, 46 RBI, and a .259 batting average in 143 games a year ago. What was worse is that his usually amazing gold glove caliber centerfield play was no longer.
In 2016, that below average play from the 27-year old Lagares is no longer. His shoulder is all healed and the Lagares we’ve seen through almost two months has been stellar.
There’s just one little problem: He never plays.
Upon Duda going down on Monday, the question of who would man the first base position immediately surfaced. Many candidates were bandied about, yet no true answers came to form.
Tonight, in Game 1 in Washington D.C. against the Nationals, Eric Campbell has been called upon. Or, “Everyday Eric,” as SNY’s Gary Cohen called him tonight.
This is a major issue, and the Mets know it.
Wilmer Flores, who’s still on the DL, will most definitely take reps at first. Another option could be David Wright. This one is intriguing considering it would shore up the hot-corner with David’s arm strength seemingly declining on a daily basis. Unfortunately, word from the Mets suggests Wright-to-first is more of an offseason type of move.
The last option is the best. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the Mets will see if youngster Michael Conforto can make the transition.
Should Conforto make this move, New York would trot out their best everyday lineup since acquiring Cespedes and witnessing Wright make his late season return:
- Curtis Granderson, RF
- David Wright, 3B
- Michael Conforto, 1B
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF
- Neil Walker, 2B
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
- Juan Lagares, CF
- Kevin Plawecki, C
The key is this: Don’t think of the everyday lineup as simply the “lineup.” Getting Lagares’s glove in centerfield is worth its weight in gold. While he’s provided top notch production at the plate – during his minimal chances – all of it is gravy.
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) May 19, 2016
The Mets lineup is at a point in which it can sacrifice a Duda at the plate for a legendary glove like Lagares in the outfield. Plus, with the news that Travis d’Arnaud is suddenly on the mend, the lineup would see a significant boost in the No. 5 and/or 6 hole upon his return.
Is it ideal? No.
Having a talent such as Lagares on the bench to provide base-running speed and acting as a caddy for Cespedes in the late innings is much more fruitful from a team perspective. But as far as the everyday lineup is concerned, Lagares in and Duda out is the ticket.