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New York Mets Have a Plan in Place, but What About the Outfield in 2013?

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COMMENTARY | When the New York Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays last month, they confirmed what we had assumed all along -- that the organization is building for 2014 and beyond.

That's when you can foresee the Mets having Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Noah Syndergaard anchoring what could be -- stress the "could be" -- a very formidable starting staff for years to come.

It all starts with pitching, and the Mets appear to be hitching their future to the belief that by building a strong starting staff, they can compete with what's shaping up to be a very competitive National League.

So the plan is to build around the starting staff and the solid infield that's already in place, then piece together a bullpen and bench.

But the more immediate need is in the outfield, where the future is not so certain and where the present is not so promising.

We've been down this road before. As it stands now, the Mets don't have a single proven outfielder on their 40-man roster. Kirk Nieuwenhuis (center field) had his moments last year, but he also struck out 98 times in 282 at-bats. Lucas Duda (left field) hasn't shown he can hit for enough power to justify keeping his bat in the lineup when his defense leaves a lot to be desired. In right field, it's anyone's call. Right now Mike Baxter looks like he might be the starter on Opening Day, but the Mets would be better off with him coming off the bench. Throw in Jordany Valdespin and the aforementioned outfielders are all left-handed hitters.

Today, the Mets signed the righty-hitting Andrew Brown to a minor league contract. In 46 games with the Colorado Rockies last year, the 28-year-old outfielder hit .232 with five home runs and 11 runs batted in. In 2011, he played 11 games for the St. Louis Cardinals, driving in three runs. Here's the upside: Brown put up good numbers in the minors last year, hitting 24 home runs and driving in 98 runs while batting .308.

Last month, the Mets traded for Collin Cowgill, who also hits from the right side, a 26-year-old outfielder who hit .269 with one home run and nine RBIs in 38 games with the Oakland Athletics last year. In 2011, he hit .239 with one home run and nine RBIs in 36 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

There's still time, but the Mets options are limited. Scott Hairston, who hit 20 home runs for them last year, and who is a righty hitter, is still on the market. Perhaps the Mets might make a run at him. They have to do something.

The Mets have a plan for 2014 and beyond, but someone needs to remind them that the 2013 season is up first.

Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

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