COMMENTARY | Perhaps the best thing that can be said of the New York Mets' first significant signing of the 2013 offseason is that if it doesn't pan out, the deal won't last very long.
Desperately needing some outfield upgrades, the Mets turned to free agent Chris Young on Friday, November 22.
Young Is a Good Outfielder, But the Mets Need Offense
A very good defensive player with impressive speed, Young will certainly improve New York's outfield.
As for helping the Mets' lineup? Maybe not so much.
Although the 30-year-old drew interest from the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, that was only as a contingency plan in the event of losing Jacoby Ellsbury.
One look at the back of Young's baseball card shows the type of marginal offensive player that already fills New York's roster more frequently than the club would like.
On the plus side, the Mets only inked Young for one year, so if he can provide the limited power (32 home runs in 2007, and 27, three years later) and ability to drive in runs (85 RBIs in 2008, and 91 two years after that) that he's showed in the past, the move could be worth the gamble in the short term.
Young's Limited Track Record Doesn't Seem to Fit the Bill
However, with a reported $27 million to spend on upgrades this offseason, more than one-quarter ($7.25 million) of that amount will be given to Young, who hit a paltry .200 last season; missed more than 50 games due to injury in each of the past two years; and in 3,904 plate appearances over seven seasons with Arizona, and one with Oakland, hit just .235 while striking out an alarming 907 times, or once every 4.3 times to the plate.
Those types of numbers don't figure to aid an offensively challenged team at the level on which Young will be compensated.
Even with ace pitcher Matt Harvey slated to miss the 2014 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, New York's strength will be found in its pitching.
Although Harvey started last year's All-Star game for the National League and allowed more than two runs a scant eight times in 2013, the Mets were merely a .500 team (13-13) in games thrown by Harvey a season ago -- and that was after winning Harvey's first five starts last year while scoring at least seven runs in four of those games.
That lack of run production wasn't restricted to New York's best pitcher, either.
With a team batting average only two percentage points higher than Young's career average, the Mets ranked last next to last in the National League in hitting last year, and the same in slugging (.366), while finishing just 11th in the NL in both runs scored (619) and home runs (130).
Among those who (as of now) are expected to remain key parts of the Mets' lineup, only third baseman David Wright and second baseman Daniel Murphy have proven track records of consistently keeping their batting averages and power numbers up to respectable levels.
Could Young add to that in any sort of significant way? Possibly, with some of the inconsistent flashes of power he's demonstrated, but not likely in terms of his batting average, his low .315 career on-base percentage, or the fact that his first year as a Met will be four years removed from his best season, in 2010.
A Helpful Allocation of Resources? Or a Signing Just to Say a Move Was Made?
On the surface, adding Young appears to be more of the same for New York: a player who was brought in simply to give the illusion that something -- anything -- was done by the front office in an attempt to improve the team.
In reality, with only so much money available to throw at addressing a myriad of issues, the $7.25 million to be spent on Young might have been more wisely used elsewhere, even if it were to sure up last year's shaky bullpen, in an effort to mask the Mets' many offensive holes.
Thus, the immediate rush to use up a good chunk of New York's allotted portion of its offseason spending on a player who over the past two seasons, only played in 208 games, while hitting just .215, with 26 homers, 81 RBIs, 82 runs scored, 72 walks and 172 strikeouts, seems an imprudent decision on the Mets' part when patience and searching further to secure a better value for the money might have been the wiser course of action.
And it's what has Mets fans anxious that the offseason that general manager Sandy Alderson promised would be a different and more aggressive approach from years past could actually end up being a continuation of what has frustrated them in the past.
Jonathan Wagner is a regular contributor for Yahoo Sports, covering the New York Knicks, New York Giants and New York Mets. You can also catch him as a Knicks beat writer for New York Sports Day and a co-host discussing a variety of sports topics on the New York Sports Geeks internet radio show. Follow him on Twitter, @JonathanJWagner.
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