COMMENTARY | In their desperate search this past winter to find outfielders, the New York Mets were very interested in Grady Sizemore. The oft-injured center fielder was recovering from micro-fracture surgery in his knee last fall, and didn't want to engage in contract talks until he was closer to getting back on the field. That time has come, and teams in need of a low-risk, high-reward option like Sizemore could come calling very soon. However, the Mets shouldn't be among those teams calling.
There's no doubt Sizemore could be a steal for a team willing to take a chance on him. When healthy from 2006 through 2008, he was one of the best players in baseball. He played at least 157 games each year while collecting two straight 20-home run/20-stolen base seasons. He also added a 30-30 season in 2008. Sizemore was selected to the All-Star game three years in a row, while winning two Gold Glove awards and one Silver Slugger.
Since 2009, Sizemore has struggled to stay on the field for an extended period of time, and hasn't been productive. He's played in only 210 games since his career year in 2008, posting an unimpressive .234 batting average, 28 home runs, and 109 RBIs. The last time he appeared in the major leagues was in 2011, and hit .234/.285/.422 in 268 at-bats (71 games played).
The Mets certainly could use help in their outfield, specifically in center field. The crop of players Terry Collins has run out to play that crucial position has hit .187/.233/.330 this season, including six home runs and 23 RBIs. Despite their glaring need in center, now is not the time to continue bringing aboard veteran players to fill holes in the lineup.
If Sizemore does prove to be healthy, whichever team that does sign him will feel like they hit the lottery. Bringing him to Flushing would likely enrage Mets fans. The Rick Ankiel signing did just that; it was viewed as a sign of desperation while New York was floundering in the standings.
At 22-32 on the season, the Mets will not be fighting for a playoff spot come August and September. Instead of filling roster spots with veterans past their prime, I'd rather see what some of the young players in the organization have to offer. With the future of this franchise such a focus since the start of Sandy Alderson's time with New York, it's more valuable to fans to see young rookies get a chance instead of signing players like Ankiel or Sizemore.
If this conversation was happening during spring training, then it's a different story. That's why I liked the Marlon Byrd signing, and his .250/.302/.449 line has been well worth it, especially when looking at the other outfielders on the roster. Now that we've entered June and the hope for any type of competitiveness is gone, the Mets need to stop pursuing players who obviously don't have a future with the organization.
The chances of seeing Ankiel or Sizemore with the Mets beyond this season would be less than zero. However, Juan Lagares is one player who could be part of this team's future. Terry Collins hasn't allowed him enough playing time to see what he can offer. The manager acknowledged that over the weekend, stating Lagares needs to get consistent at-bats, especially against right-handed pitchers.
It's the only way we'll find out if his success in the higher levels of the minor leagues will translate into the majors. Instead of putting Lagares in the lineup June 3rd against righty Kevin Slowey and the Miami Marlins, we saw Rick Ankiel penciled in to play center field and hitting eighth. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
The answer is simple when it comes to being interested in Sizemore. He could provide production at a low price, but he won't help get the Mets over the hump for a 2013 playoff run. If they're not going to compete this season, I'd rather see what Lagares and the other young ballplayers have to offer, instead of watching veterans take their roster and lineup spots on a nightly basis.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue and Rising Apple. He also provides his analysis and opinion on the rest of Major League Baseball at his personal blog, On The Way Home.
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