By Rich Coutinho
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In the final nine weeks of the season, there will be many things for Sandy Alderson to consider. How close are the young arms in the Mets organization to being major league ready? How does he reconstruct this bullpen? What will his outfield look like next year? But perhaps the most interesting question he has to tackle is what does he really have in Jordany Valdespin?
He has shown flashes of brilliance this year but it can sometimes be very easy to get intoxicated with pinch hit homers which could mask the real question--can this player find the consistency to make him an everyday option? And where would he be best suited? Second base or the outfield? The answer to that last question in particular could have a profound impact on whom you might trade and whom you might keep going into 2013.
Valdespin has a bunch of qualities that I really like, especially his penchant for the big hit in the big spot. He also provides the Mets with speed in the order, which they lack. I also choose to dismiss the "other stuff" you hear about him because, quite frankly, I have seen a polite, determined player whom I readily admit has a "confident personality" which I do not think gets in the way of his performance. I do think that he needs some coaching on plate discipline but you have to be careful about that because you do not want to take away his aggressive nature at the plate, which defines him as a hitter.
Defensively, he looks comfortable wherever he plays and that includes centerfield, which is as important a defensive position as there is on a baseball field. His arm is adequate and he can certainly work on the accuracy of his throws but he is fundamentally sound in terms of hitting the cut-off man and throwing to the right base. Still, we have seen such a small sample of his game it is so hard to quantify what the Mets have in him. Is he a core bat or just a 4th outfielder/utility player that you sprinkle in the lineup?
The answer to that question can only be determined by giving him playing time against all pitchers, especially southpaws, in the last 50 games or so of the season. That will give the Mets a better view of where they want to proceed with this player and how that will impact their reshaping of the 2013 outfield. I have to see much more of him to make an assessment on what he is, but I have to be honest, I like what I see. Despite the fact the Mets have a plethora of left-handed bats, he is a different kind of hitter. Having a slasher in a lineup that is stockpiled with patient hitters is not necessarily a bad thing. And with his speed he could wreak havoc on the bases no matter where he hits in the lineup.
With so many questions about the future of the Mets outfield, you cannot just dismiss the idea that Valdespin could play out there everyday. The next 50 games might help bring the future of Jordany Valdespin into focus.
What does the future hold for Jordany Valdespin? Be heard in the comments section below...
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