Off-Season Preview: Who's in CF and RF?

As part of a continuing series, Mets analyst Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com takes an in depth look at the possibilities existing to fill the two holes general manager Jim Duquette has in his outfield, both center field and right field.

Shannon Stewart
Status: Free agent - likely to receive a three-year deal worth $6 to $8 million per season.
Teams rumored to be interested: Twins, A's, Mets, Devil Rays, Dodgers and Angels.
3-year Average Season (555 AB's): .310 AVG, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 60 SO, 15 SB

Pros: Stewart has five straight seasons with a batting average of .300 or higher, six straight seasons with over 90 runs scored and seven straight seasons with an on base percentage of .360 or higher. Although the 29-year-old's knees are hurting his stolen base totals, he still covers solid ground in the outfield and can advance from first to third as well as ever. Because Stewart fails to have one glaring flaw in his swing, his numbers from year to year, and even game to game, are incredibly consistent. Baseball insiders rave about his optimistic attitude, competitiveness and the positive impact he has on younger players

Cons: Stewart is obsessed with batting leadoff. Anytime he has been moved from the leadoff spot, he has been quite vocal about his unhappiness with the situation. With all respect to his tremendous catch against the Yankees in this past season's ALDS, Stewart's defense is average at best. His range is decent, but his arm is too weak to play any other position besides left field. Exactly how bad his knees are is undetermined; therefore, many in baseball believe Stewart must be on an American League team serving occasionally as a designated hitter to be an everyday player.

Raul Ibanez
Status: Free agent - likely to receive a two-or three-year deal worth $4 to $5 million per year.
Teams rumored to be interested: Mariners, A's, Dodgers, Devil Rays, Royals and Mets
3-year Average Season (555 AB's): .290 AVG, 20 HR, 100 RBI, 80 SO, 5 SB

Pros: Once a career minor-leaguer, the 31-year-old Ibanez emerged as an everyday player for Kansas City during 2002, surprising many with a 24 HR, 103 RBI campaign. A fastball hitter who chases off-speed pitches, Ibanez keeps his strikeouts in check by being one of the better mistake hitters in the game. While his base stealing ability is below average, he is, however, very athletic and can advance from base to base very well.

Cons: Although Ibanez will turn up on Web Gems every now and then, for the most part, his defense is sub-par. His arm is rather weak and he is notorious for misreading the ball, thus allowing it to fall unnecessarily in front of him more often than not.

Mike Cameron
Status: Free Agent - likely to receive a three- or four-year-deal worth $7 to $9 million per year.
Teams rumored to be interested: Mariners and Mets
3-year Average Season (555 AB's): .250 AVG, 20 HR, 90 RBI, 150 SO, 20 SB

Pros: Cameron is one the best defensive centerfielders in all of baseball. Defensively, he can do everything great - be it robbing home runs, chasing down line drives or gunning out a greedy runner heading into second base. A gap hitter who has spurts of significant power, Cameron's ability to lay off bad pitches results in a solid number of walks. Cameron will be 31-years-old entering the 2004 season and has not missed any significant time due to injury over the last four seasons.

Cons: Cameron's major flaw can be wrapped up in one word: strikeouts. He has five straight seasons with 130 or more strikeouts, leading the American League the last two years. Many people cite Safeco Field's difficult hitting conditions and outfield backdrop as a factor in Cameron's low batting average. However, while he did hit worse at home in 2003, .235 AVG and 68 SO, his numbers were not much better on the road, .268. AVG and 69 SO.

Robert Fick
Status: Free agent - likely to receive one- or two-year-deal worth $2 to $3 million per year.
Teams rumored to be interested: small market team, looking to fill holes
3-year Average Season (555 AB's): .270 AVG, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 75 SO, 0 SB

Pros: Fick is an above-average, all-around hitter who can be a bargain for a team. He will produce average numbers when in a platoon situation, but when given an everyday chance to play he has the ability to surprise. When Fick plays on a consistent basis and becomes comfortable he begins to hit the ball to all fields with one of the better, compact left-handed swings in baseball. Although never great, Fick does everything just well enough.

Cons: Slump prone, particularly against lefties, Fick plays himself out of the lineup all too often. His defense is slightly below average, although, his arm has proven to be surprisingly strong and accurate, which was not the case when he first came up as a catcher. Fick does nothing great enough to be a tremendous asset for a team, however, for the money he will warrant, he can be a solid bargain wherever he ends up in 2004.

Randy Winn
Status: Arbitration-eligible, made $3.5 million in his sixth season and will likely be tendered a contract by Seattle. However, should Seattle either retain Cameron or acquire Ibanez, it is rumored Winn will be on the trade block.
Teams rumored to be interested: Mets
2-year Average Season (555 AB's): .297 AVG, 11 HR, 70 RBI, 100 SO, 20 SB

Pros: Winn is an all-around good baseball player. Though his defense appears shaky at times, he always positions himself well enough to make the best possible catch and throw. A good situational hitter, Winn is an effective bunter and has ranked in the top ten in singles, doubles and triples each of the last two seasons. Once thought of as a leadoff, Winn has settled nicely into the #3 slot over the last couple of years.

Cons: Winn is not a star and he is not going to overwhelm in any way. He walks very rarely and is strikeout prone, which is the main reason he failed in the leadoff spot. Winn's defense is suitable for left field because his arm is rather week, however, his speed allows him to get into fielding positions that limit extra base hits.

Reggie Sanders
Status: Free agent - will likely receive a one-year deal worth $1 to $2 million
Teams rumored to be interested: any team with a short-term outfield vacancy
3-year Average Season (555 AB's): .265 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI, 110 SO, 15 SB

Pros: In terms of players with 30 homers and 100 runs batted in, Sanders is a bargain. He hits righties as well as lefties, from any spot in the order and is effective with runners on base. Still fast, Sanders, 35, can steal a solid number of bases and advance from station to station as well as ever. His arm is strong in the outfield and his range is above average. Managers and players rave about Sanders' presence and positive attitude on the bench.

Cons: Sanders is a streaky hitter, from his day-day to numbers or his odd and even year power trends. He is never going to hit .300, and he is becoming more prone to striking out as opposed to taking a walk as his career progresses. Sanders has been with six teams in six years and will likely be with his seventh in 2004.


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