Curtis Granderson will likely begin next season in center field, Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters earlier this week at the MLB Winter Meetings.
As a result, Collins said Michael Conforto will likely spend most of his time in right field, while occasionally filling in for Granderson in center, where Juan Lagares will also get time.
In late November, general manager Sandy Alderson told WOR 710 AM radio that he wants Conforto to be an every-day player in 2017, including possibly getting time as a backup first baseman.
"That is the plan, as we sit here today," Alderson added, noting that his role will be determined by the final make up of their outfield. "For example, he might be an every-day guy against righties, and he plays half or two-thirds of the time against lefties, because maybe Granderson plays half or two-thirds of the time against lefties."
Meanwhile, Yoenis Cespedes will only play left field, according to both Alderson and Collins, 1) because it's his preferred position and where he's won a Gold Glove, but also 2) because they believe playing center field last year contributed to his nagging quad injury.
I don't like this. I really don't. For starters, someone needs to convince Yoenis Cespedes that he should be in right field, because it's where his arm is most valuable. He has a cannon and it's wasted in left field.
Second, I understand Granderson can physically stand in center field, and I appreciate his willingness to do what is asked of him, but it doesn't mean he should be playing there every day. He's a below-average right fielder and worse when standing between people.
Third, I am a fan of Conforto. I think he can win a batting title and be the next Don Mattingly at the plate. Similar to Granderson, while I appreciate his willingness to play right, play center and even learn first base, I would much rather see Conforto locked in to a spot on the field so he can think less about his glove and more about his bat. According to Alderson, half of Conforto's struggles last season were because of inconsistent playing time and an undefined role. So, why make that mistake again?
Fourth, I'm not of a fan of rotating so many different bodies around the outfield, especially center field. I much prefer a steady, solid, up-the-middle defense. It doesn't have to be the best in baseball. They don't all have to win Gold Gloves. But, it helps a pitching staff so much -- mentally and physically -- to know there is a consistent, reliable safety net behind them, capable of keeping runners from taking an extra base. I realize the Mets strike a lot of guys out, which is probably why they gave up so few extra base hits in 2016. This is great. But, it can be better and it can always be worse.
Free-agent OF Dexter Fowler, Royals OF Lorenzo Cain and Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen (USA Today Images)
Lastly, this is all resolved if Alderson would just trade both Granderson and Jay Bruce and acquire an everyday center fielder.
I've advocated this week for signing Dexter Fowler, though I'd be fine seeing him trade for center fielders Charlie Blackmon (Rockies), Lorenzo Cain (Royals) and Andrew McCutchen (Pirates). In the event of someone new, he would play center every day, while flanked by Cespedes and Conforto. Lagares could be the roving fourth outfielder, filling in at all three spots when needed for defense, pinch-running or hitting off the bench.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) has been the lead writer of MetsBlog.com since 2003, as well as Executive Editor and Director of Digital Content for SNY.TV and host of the MetsBlog Q&ACast, pres. by Citi.