However, it’s not the money factor when it comes down to the Cuddyer signing. With a youth based team, I totally understand the logistics behind the move. Cuddyer is a wily veteran who can help guide and lead the Mets to success. Combined with the fact that he is best friends with “the Captain”, it will definitely keep David Wright’s spirits up.
John Mayberry, Jr. was also signed in late 2014. Although I feel Mayberry will be used more to help Lucas Duda at first base when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound, he could also be slotted in to play outfield from time-to-time.
Regardless, I just genuinely believe that these decisions will limit the upward mobility of Matt den Dekker on the main roster.
Den Dekker has always had an ability to play a great defensive game in the outfield. Being drafted by the Mets in 2010, den Dekker has always stunned people with his movements and grace in the outfield. In college, he was a three time member of the SEC All-Defensive Team with the University of Florida due to his defensive play. Furthermore, his dynamic style led to one of the greatest catches in college history. Thanks to the New York Times’ Andrew Keh, I was able to find this incredible catch:
His bat, however, has not translated as well to the Mets on the main roster. His bat in college was incredibly solid; batting .310 in 844 AB’s with 262 hits, 33 homeruns, and 159 RBIs through 4 years of college at Florida. Throughout his 4 years in the minor leagues (including back and forth trips in 2013 and 2014), he averaged .289 in 466 at-bats with a stunning 48 homeruns (23 in Triple A alone). Yet, in 80 games in the big leagues, den Dekker is only hitting .238 in 150 AB’s, with 50 hits, 1 HR, 13 RBIs, and 25 walks. By statistic analysis alone, den Dekker is NOT performing with his bat on the MLB roster.
Although I felt (and still feel) that Eric Young, Jr. should have been kept around to bring some pop and excitement to the Mets bench, obviously the Mets see more in the “Upper Dekker”. Den Dekker has youth on his side, being only 27 years old. He’s a gritty player and is not afraid to play the field and go all out. Lastly, he has speed. Given time, he could be a serious base running threat.
According to MLB.com's Bernie Pleskoff, “den Dekker can steal bases and will get better at that craft once he gets more experience against the pitchers he is facing. His technique is good for now as he gets a good jump, but he still needs to refine his base-stealing mechanics a bit and trust his abilities.” From a professional scout, I’ll take his word for it.
There are so many questions marks that are entering this coming season. Michael Cuddyer might be the starting left fielder as of Opening Day, but Matt den Dekker has nothing to lose. I genuinely believe that den Dekker will come out in 2015 and stun a lot of people. Even if they stack the “Dekk”, I think #6 will shine.
Spring Training can’t come soon enough.
Thanks to TheBaseballCube.com, Andrew Keh, and Bernie Pleskoff for their articles used to help write this blog.