By John Delcos
Photo Credit: Getty Images
The New York Mets haven’t played an exhibition game yet and already manager Terry Collins is hinting at several roster cuts.
With a congested outfield, Collins suggested Matt den Dekker – arguably the best defensive outfielder in the organization – Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Andrew Brown and Cesar Puello beginning the year at Triple-A Las Vegas.
It is also conceivable Juan Lagares will open the season in the minor leagues.
Collins is very high on den Dekker.
``One of the things we're very lucky with, when you come into camp and you have the likes of the outfield we have right now, they're so athletic. They can all run,’’ Collins told reporters today in Port St. Lucie. ``Matt is in that [group]. He is still very, very highly thought of – a tremendous defender, as we know.
``One of the things you've seen in his career, he gets to a level and he may have a rough time in the beginning. And the next time he goes to that same level he advances. And we're hoping the same thing occurs now, that he now knows what's expected at the major-league level, what kind of pitching he's going to see, what adjustments he has to make.
``I think Matt den Dekker is still a huge prospect here. It gives us an ample amount of insurance.’’
Collins said den Dekker will need at-bats, but the same applies for Lagares. Should Eric Young start over him, where will Lagares get his at-bats?
The Mets currently have three players competing for on outfield position. Curtis Granderson and Chris Young are givens, leaving Eric Young, Lagares and Lucas Duda for the other spot.
Should Lagares be optioned, Duda is not a viable outfield reserve and definitely can’t play center. That might force Collins to re-think Nieuwenhuis or Brown.
***John Delcos has covered Major League Baseball for over 20 years, including the Mets and Yankees since 1998. He is a Hall of Fame voter and owns and operates a Mets website, New York Mets Report.com