Manager Terry Collins has come under heightened scrutiny over the last week over his lineup management for the New York Mets. The Mets have gone 5-11 so far in May, falling off after a strong April. The Mets have had their problems offensively, getting shut out four times in their last 12 games, leading Collins to constantly juggle his lineup in search of offense. The tinkering resulted in Juan Lagares, who has hit well throughout the season, sitting for four out of five games last week. Collins snapped at reporters prior to Sunday's game who were questioning him on whether Lagares was benched, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports.
Collins bristled at criticism over his use of Lagares, who made a big impact in his return to the lineup Saturday with a homer and a home run saving catch. Collins made it clear to reporters that he had simply given Lagares two days off, and re-iterated that Lagares was his every day center fielder. Collins told reporters,
"You know, it's not like I sat him for seven days. I sat him for two days, for cripes sake. We get a little carried away here. Somebody gets a day off here, and its like the sky is falling in. It's not. He's the center fielder."
For the record, Lagares was benched for three consecutive days, but that is not the point here. Lagares has hit well this season, and has been arguably the team's most consistent hitter not named David Wright or Daniel Murphy. Lagares also brings valuable defense to the Mets, as he is arguably the best defensive center fielder in baseball. Lagares should be in the lineup every day ideally.
Collins is facing a dilemma in his outfield because of what the two Youngs bring. Eric Young Jr is the closest thing this club has to a leadoff hitter, while Chris Young brings a power bat to the group. Neither Young is hitting above .230 on the season, so they can both drag the offense down to a degree. Lagares doesn't profile as a true leadoff hitter and doesn't offer much power, so it seems easier to bench him when Chris Young is guaranteed seven million dollars. Collins told reporters that Lagares is his everyday center fielder, but a lot of Mets' fans will want to see him actually put Lagares in every day before they believe him.
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