Lovable masher Lucas Duda and offensive juggernaut Mets softening sting of Beltran’s departure

The Mets scored 10 runs today. They’ve now put up 18 runs in two games without Carlos Beltran. Lucas Duda, Beltran’s replacement in right field, has gone 3-for-7 with a home run, a double and two walks in the games, lifting his small-sample season batting line to .283/.359/.465, not Beltran but still comfortably above the league averages for right fielders.

It’s too soon to go all-in on Duda, of course. And it’s perhaps a bit too late to carry a torch for these 2011 Mets. The playoffs were a longshot even with Beltran hitting third, and replacing Beltran with Duda lengthens those odds no matter how many runs the Reds have handed the team this week. Stranger things have happened, of course, especially in baseball.

The good news is that regardless of what happens in the standings from here on out, there’s plenty to hold our interest on the field. In Duda, Justin Turner, Josh Thole, Jason Pridie, Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato, the Mets have a large group of  reasonably young, mostly unproven cost-controlled players who can spend the rest of the season showing the club whether they belong in the Majors, and in what roles.

Some could emerge as valuable Major League regulars. Others will become useful role players and bench guys. Some will never amount to much. The next two months don’t determine any of that for certain, but they help further clear up the picture.

So that’s cool. I, for one, hope Duda works out. It’s fun to watch him hit.

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