It’s starting to become obvious that Matt Den Dekker will be playing center field for the Mets at some point this season. Let’s face it… Andres Torres and his .220/.331/.325 line is better suited as a bench player than he is in center field every day at 34 years old. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has played a solid center field but Den Dekker is better. And if Den Dekker can hit consistently like he has this season at Binghamton and now Buffalo, it’s a done deal.
This season, between Binghamton and Buffalo, Den Dekker’s line is .333/.393/.562 in 249 at-bats. If he can play an outstanding center field, as he normally does, and make a contribution offensively at the big league level there’s no reason for him to remain in the minors. The Mets have several offensive black holes on their roster and Torres is one of them.
Check out the video below of Den Dekker’s first homer for Buffalo and ninth of the season last night in their 8-3 home loss to Pawtucket.
The Mets had a great opening day with Johan Santana looking good for five innings of shutout ball. The pre-game ceremony celebrating the life of Hall of Famer Gary Carter was bittersweet, bringing back some great memories of the 80’s teams. But things went awry in the seventh inning when Andres Torres left the game with a calf strain and immediately went on the disabled list.
The problem is that center field is a position that the Mets are extremely thin at. The most likely scenario is that Kirk Nieuwenhuis joins the big league team. He missed a lot of time at Buffalo last year with a shoulder injury. And he’s been working out at Port St. Lucie instead of going to Buffalo with the rest of the team. If healthy, he’s the best option to play center field for a couple of weeks until Torres gets back. Maybe he’ll shine and take over the job and not give it back to Torres.
Scott Hairston is the backup center fielder. But he’s definitely not an everyday center fielder. He could fill in for a game or two here or there but he’s shaky in the outfield. You don’t want him out there everyday for two weeks.
The Mets traded Angel Pagan to the Giants for outfielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez. Pagan is a tremendous athlete that frustrated Mets fans with bonehead plays in the field and on the bases. He appeared to be making great strides to realize his potential in 2010 but took a step back in 2011. Hopefully, he’ll realize that potential with the Giants because he seems like one of the good guys in the game.
Ramon Ramirez is the important piece of the trade for the Mets. He’s been working the middle innings in the majors since 2006 to some success. His career ERA is 3.16. That’s pretty good for a career middle reliever. Surprisingly, the Mets are Ramirez’ fifth team in seven seasons. That goes to show how little a priority that middle relievers are.
Andres Torres is a throw-in in this deal. He’s a light-hitting switch hitter with some speed that plays solid defense in the outfield. He’ll be 34 years old next season and hasn’t made it to free agency yet. He made $2.2 million last season so he’ll be in line for a little bit of a salary increase. I would guess the Mets see him as a fourth outfielder and plan to make another move to replace Pagan in center field.