by Paul West
With all of the injuries, bad breaks and batting slumps they’ve endured this season, the New York Mets are right in the thick of things at the All Star break. Michael Cuddyer has brought the positive intangibles he was expected to bring, but he’s also been as injury-plagued as many feared and his hitting has been a disappointment. Curtis Granderson has turned it around at the plate, but his diminished range and weak arm are misplaced in Citi Field’s right field. Meanwhile, the Mets’ pitching staff has continued to shine. Matt Harvey has resumed his dominance, Jacob deGrom is the team’s lone All Star and pitching like an ace, and Jonathon Niese has righted the ship to be as strong a fifth starter as there is in either league. In the bullpen, Bobby Parnell has been effective despite diminished velocity, Jenrry Mejia is back from suspension and looks good, and closer Jeurys Familia continues to be a near-sure thing. On the infield, Daniel Murphy has moved over to third base, where he’s a much more natural and competent fit, and his bat is waking up. Lucas Duda is also stirring again, probably assisted by the resurgence of his lineup mates, and Wilmer Flores‘ move to second base has been similar in effect to Murphy’s move to third. And Ruben Tejada, while not dropping jaws, has somewhat silenced his doubters with solid play at shortstop and occasionally timely hitting.
As the Mets continue to climb in the standings, the Nationals continue to show their vulnerabilities. At this point, it could be argued that the Mets would have good odds against most National League teams in a best-of-five or best-of-seven series. They just have to make it there, and the key is to continue to hit. It still looks as if the Mets are one key move from being on the short list of potential National League champions.
Since this is a time of general parity in baseball, potential suitors are few and asking prices are high. One player I’ve previously suggested pursuing is the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, who would improve both the offense and the defense and bring star power to the lineup. But Puig comes with both tangible and intangible concerns, and the Dodgers would ask for a lot in return. The Oakland Athletics’ Ben Zobrist is a player who can capably play multiple positions and can hit from both sides of the plate, but he’s also 34. But another Oakland player would be a solid fit and fulfill multiple Mets needs: their athletic right fielder, Josh Reddick.
Just 28 years old, Josh Reddick is batting a sturdy .287 with 11 home runs and 51 runs batted in. His on-base percentage is .343, and he’s a lefty with power and speed who can hit almost anywhere in the order. He’s been known to have trouble against left-handed pitching, but this might be partly because he hasn’t been given much chance to prove himself; he recently expressed frustration at not getting chances against lefties, and perhaps he could prove his doubters wrong (remember when people thought Lucas Duda couldn’t hit lefties?). Reddick has a strong arm in right field, and has made spectacular plays while covering the spacious outfield in Oakland; he would transition well into Citi Field. The Mets could then platoon Cuddyer and Granderson, or perhaps use Cuddyer as an all-purpose utility man at first base and in left field when Grandy or Duda need a rest (particularly the former). Reddick isn’t an expensive option, and he’s just entering his peak years. His presence would immediately improve both the lineup and the outfield defense, as well as strengthening the bench and allowing Cuddyer to limit his reps. And they wouldn’t have to give up as much for Reddick as they would Puig or someone with bigger star power.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Josh Reddick is an option worth exploring for the Mets.