The outfield appears to be in a state of flux for the 2013 season with few internal candidates seemingly ready to take the proverbial next step to fill in one of the Citi Field outfield spots. It has already been addressed in a lot of places, so I wont rehash it here. My question is that given the lack of obvious outfield options for 2013 and beyond, has there been any discussion about converting AAA 3B Zach Lutz to the outfield? My take is that Lutz is a gifted hitter that has the bat for the majors. In 117 AAA games, he has 479 PA and has a slash line of .299/.395/.516 for an OPS of .911. Plugging his 2012 AAA stats into drivelinebaseball’s handy-dandy Major League Equivalent ("MLE") calculator, you find that his MLE line would be a very acceptable .250/.348/.412- or a .760 OPS which would be roughly equivalent to the OPS put up by Danny Murphy (.774), Ruben Tejada (.760) or Jordany Valdespin (.758). Moreover, Lutz would bring a power(ish) right handed bat to the lineup to better balance out our lefty-centric lineup. Defensively, I have no idea if Lutz can play LF but it is theoretically easier on the defensive spectrum than 3B where he plays now. In 2013, it does not seem implausible to have a Lutz/Duda platoon in left, a free agent addition like BJ Upton in CF (at the right price of course which I would estimate to be ~$6m-$8m/yr), and a platoon of Torres (who is hitting .305/.431/.421 vrs lefty pitching this year)/ Nieuwenhuis (.271/.324/.416 against rightys). To compensate for the likely defensive blackhole in LF, either Torres or Nieuwenhuis (whoever is not starting) could come into the game as a late inning defensive replacement if need be. The lineup would look something like this: SS- Tejada 2B- Murphy 3B- Wright CF- Upton 1B- Ike LF- Duda/ Lutz RF- Torres/ Nieuwenhuis C- Thole Bench: 1B/ 3B- Satin 2B/SS- Valdespin or Turner C- Nickeas or Johnson or some guy I’m not sure if this lineup will be a marked improvement over what we have now, but it seems like it would be a cost effective lineup that may benefit from a boost in CF from Upton, and improved production from a more efficient- and highly cost effective- use of platoon assets in RF and LF. If Ike and/or Thole rebound from down years in 2012, starting pitching remains robust, and the bullpen improves, it seems like the lineup presented here could represent a 5-6 win improvement over the 2012 Mets. While that won’t likely get us into the World Series, it seems it would keep the club in contention for the last wildcard spot for most of the summer and represent an 83-85 win ballclub from which you could build into a serious contender in 2014 when Bay’s and Santana’s salaries come off the books and you can actually start spending some money on resigning Wright and Dickey and adding selected free agents to make a targeted run at the World Series. The key issue here is that this is still a two year plan from now which might be too slow for many fans. My contention is that the Mets need a two year plan since I am assuming they are hamstrung by bad contracts in 2013 and the potential upcoming free agent crop is mediocre at best given our immediate needs. Would love to get your thoughts and have a great weekend everyone.
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