Mets rumored to be pursuing Rick Ankiel

Rick Ankiel’s name keeps coming up in rumors related to the last spot on the Mets’ bench. Ankiel hits left-handed and plays center field, so on the surface level he fits the Mets’ needs for the spot.

If the Mets have concerns about Andres Torres’ ability to hold up in center field over the course of a season and Scott Hairston’s ability to back him up, then I guess Ankiel makes some sense. For whatever they’re worth, UZR pegs Ankiel as just shy of average in center field — no small feat — largely because his outstanding arm helps mitigate underwhelming range.

But if the Mets think Hairston can handle center and want Ankiel because he hits left-handed, then the only thing he’s really got over Mike Baxter is a Major League resume. Ankiel mashed righties to the tune of an .890 OPS in his renaissance year in 2008, but his offensive numbers across the board have plummeted since then. In 327 plate appearance against right-handers in 2011, Ankiel mustered only a .678 OPS. By comparison, in Baxter’s last full season of Triple-A play in 2010, his line against righties translates to a .769 OPS in the Majors.

That’s only one year for both players, of course. But if the Mets bring in Ankiel and Terry Collins maintains his insistence on platoon matchups, they could very well be assigning the bulk of their pinch-hitting opportunities to a guy that’s not really fit for them.

Though if you’re playing at home, note now that it’s Jan. 30 and I’m lamenting the way Terry Collins might use a player the Mets are speculated to be considering for the very last spot on their roster.

But hey, the Giants are in the Super Bowl!


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