By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper
Terry Collins has let it be known that he intends to start Lucas Duda as his right fielder in 2012. Well, it’s not like he has much of a choice these days! Duda had some big shoes to fill when Carlos Beltran left in a trade at the deadline.
Most of all, fans took the Duda, though. We liked his name, and the play on Big Lebowski field day we’d have every time his name was mentioned. Twitter would blow up like a Lebowski Fest when he did something good. “The Duda Abides,” among others. Heck, even my title here is a nod to the cult-favorite movie.
What wasn’t to like about Lucas Duda, the 6’4″ blond California kid? He just LOOKS like a “Duda,” right? And my philosophy on Mets fans is that if we’re gonna lose, we may as well do it with the young guys. Young guys who are home grown and we can get behind. Unless they’ve overstayed their welcome and we eventually turn on them. Like Bobby Jones or David Wright, underrated Mets in their own right.
But what happens when we overrate our own players? Steve Keane from Kranepool Society has said this several times and even said it on our podcast a few weeks ago. I can pretty much put up a dartboard and put any names of Mets whose bodies have littered the Roosevelt Avenue of Broken Dreams. See: Milledge, Lastings or Jefferies, Gregg. Duda, to me, is a low-risk/high-reward kind of guy, in that he’ll give you plate production and decent fielding.
When Richie S detailed our mid-winter board meetings (essentially, Monday Morning GM-ing), he found himself to be in the minority about The Duda. From his board meeting minutes, he transcribes: “Is he a RF or trade bait? I was surprised at how many want to give Lucas a shot in RF. I want to give Lucas a shot to be what I think he is, a DH. I say use him in a package to get a RF who can lead off. I was out voted.”
As I said during our many diatribes about the Mets Saturday evening, I was prepared for losing Jose Reyes, since I had all season to prepare for it. Now, that doesn’t mean I was happy about losing him, but it was what it was, and it was easier for me to move on. Trading someone like Ike Davis or Jon Niese (though it seems like the Mets are asking for the moon for them, which is the RIGHT thing to do) would make me more upset AT THIS TIME because a) I wasn’t prepared for it and b) I like those two players specifically. Also because I wasn’t prepared for it, plus liking them. That would not make for a happy Coop.
Yet, as Richie says, use him in a package, I can get behind that. I actually like Duda, and possibly my feelings about him being the starting right fielder for the Mets in 2012 doesn’t bother me that much. I mean, someone Sandy Alderson should be trading (Daniel Murphy, whom I also love) is scheduled to be the starting second baseman. I’ve detailed why I think defense is schmefense, but Murphy would be a quintessential DH. Duda doesn’t strike me as such. However, as Richie once said to me at a game, Duda as a right fielder “Scares the beejeezus out of me.”
I never forgot about that. I never felt strongly about Duda either way which means either I think we can do better or there is no one else I’d rather have (translation: the devil you know, etc etc). Yet, I can sympathize with Richie’s stance on being in the minority on something. The non-vocal minority was out there about trading Angel Pagan prior to the 2011, and I was one of them. People told me I crazy, I was nuts, I didn’t know what I was talking about. Believe me, I realized that a young-ish dude who was under team control and cheap was a better option that most at the position he played. But it was just that: he had a career year and under team control. Trade his ass when his stock is high!! I guess Sandy Alderson might have seen it that way too: under team control, and maximizing his value. He took a risk, it didn’t work out. But I had the last laugh when we got a warm body for him.
That’s how Richie is about Duda right now. And I can’t say I blame him, and that it doesn’t give me pause that maybe he’s someone that we can sort of trade “up” for, kind of like Pagan this off-season. True, the crown jewel of the Pagan deal with Ramon Ramirez, but a potential every day player (till Kirk Nieuwenhuis arrives) came in the form of Andres Torres.
For now, we’ll be marking Duda in at “9” for every day, but I don’t think it would hurt Alderson to look into seeing what the market is for a young studly DH for an American League team who can be fleeced for young pitching. As we all pretty much agreed on, trading Jon Niese would be a bad idea for a young lefty whose best years are presumably ahead of him (and cheap and young and under control and etc). Duda-rino is a guy you shop around, at least for the sake of shoring up weaknesses on the team, which there is no shortage of on this team.
Hop to it, Sandy.