2012 Season Preview: Center Field

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Center field may be up for grabs.. Recently acquired outfielder Andres Toress will likely start off the season playing the position every day, but after that, it will likely go to a younger player.

When the Mets traded for Andres Torres in December, they knew they were bringing in a weak bat. Personally, I think the bigger piece in the trade was Ramon Ramirez. Last season in San Francisco, Torres had a .221/.312/.330 slash line. He was highly touted for his speed, but again, he only stole 19 bases in 112 games, so it’s not like he was a major force on the basepaths. At 34, it seems his best years just might be behind him.

There are two real emerging candidates for player who will steal the job from Torres, assuming he plays the way many think he will. Those two players are Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt Den Dekker.

Nieuwenhuis, 24, had a great season between Buffalo and Binghamton in 2010, hitting 18 home runs and driving in 77. Last year, his season was cut short by injury, but he seemed to be on his way to a quality season, hitting .298 in just over 50 games. Nieuwenhuis is highly regarded as a top Mets prospect, coming in at eighth on my list, and fourth on many others. He is considered a five-tool player who can do just about anything. He is likely to make his big league debut halfway through the season, no matter how well Torres is playing.

Den Dekker, 24, is a little bit further away from the major league roster than Nieuwenhuis.

Last year, Den Dekker seemed to tear up minor league pitching, hitting 17 home runs in 539 at-bats between Single-A Port St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton. However, his strikeouts were a major concern. Den Dekker struck out 156 times. This has been a concern for him since he was attending the University of Florida. The improvement he makes on this attribute may make or break his career.
Backups: I don’t really see anyone taking over the center field role other than these two guys. I think they are good options, but we will have to wait and see.
Overall Grade: D+
If it weren’t for the prospects in the backup role, this would be a “D.” Torres needs to bounce back at the plate in order for the Mets to do anything this year. A .330 slugging percentage isn’t going to cut it.
About Connor O'Brien
I'm a 17 year-old blogger, high school student, and lifelong Mets fan. I've been blogging about the Mets in some form or another for about four years. I embrace the new age, sabermetric way of thinking, but also recognize the importance of scouting and player devlopment.

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