The Mets have apparently had it with Rick Ankiel, as they designated the veteran center fielder for assignment after Saturday's epic loss to Miami. New York picked up Ankiel back on May 14 in the hopes that he would provide some semblance of offense in center field, but after an initial burst, it just hasn't been happening for him.
Ankiel batted .194/.254/.387 with the Mets while striking out 22 times in 62 at-bats. That's admittedly better than the 35 strikeouts Ankiel had in a coincidentally similar 62 at-bats with Houston this season, but it's still really bad. The Mets are a developing team, and if a player is going to stink, he better at least be young.
Enter Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who couldn't find steady playing time in New York's shaky outfield at the beginning of the season. In 167 Las Vegas plate appearances, Kirk has gone on a power kick (but it's Vegas, so who hasn't?) with 10 home runs, but he still struck out 24 percent of the time, and that's only going to go up in the majors.
The good news is that Nieuwenhuis posted a 13.2 percent walk rate at Triple-A, which is way better than the 8.0 percent he posted in the majors last season. The Mets will hope that that number translates over to the majors, because the strikeouts aren't going away any time soon, and Nieuwenhuis's power hasn't played in the majors yet. He's got to draw some walks in the bigs for the front office to consider him some kind of an asset.
The bottom line is that Nieuwenhuis is young and Ankiel isn't. Nieuwenhuis turns 26 later this season and he still has only accrued 331 plate appearances in the majors. There's still hope for him, and now is as good a time as any to see if he can ever become a productive player.