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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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And Juan To Grow On

I could have dropped my electronic device from mild shock when I read on it Wednesday the bulletin that the Mets were extending Juan Lagares before they had to. And it would have been fine for me to have dropped it, because of course Lagares would have caught it.

He gets that good a jump on everything.

The Mets are getting a jump on Juan conceivably going to arbitration or mulling free agency and they’re getting a bargain — four years, $23 million — in making sure Juan remains a Met for the next several seasons. He’s a spectacular center fielder. He’ll probably have to be a pretty good left fielder simultaneously given the mobility of Michael Cuddyer.

A two-position wonder under contract for this year, the four years after that and with a $9.5 million option on the first year of the next decade. I’m assuming they’ll still be playing baseball in 2020 and that Juan will still be catching all that are played.

The last time the Mets gave a Met who was already a Met a deal to keep him a Met before they grudgingly had to, it was David Wright just ahead of his walk year. David Wright wasn’t walking anywhere. Really, they had to keep Wright, grudgingly or not. Let go of Wright and you might as well pull in your shingle. Before Wright, it was Jon Niese. Before Niese, it was probably Wright in 2006, back when they were locking up their most valuable youngsters, David and Jose.

It’s probably the memory of the long-term pact between Reyes and the Mets and how it eventually expired despite seeming so endless when it was announced that made my first post-surprise reaction to Lagares sticking around pre-emptive sorrow. Happy to know the Mets and Juan wanted each other, sad that someday they might not. I couldn’t have imagined Reyes not being a Met forever in 2006. I’ve ceased imagining anybody being a Met forever since. Except Wright.

The important thing regarding Lagares is he’s here now. He’s here for a while. They’re not turning their back on him like he turns his back on the infield to make so many routinely sensational grabs in the outfield. They’re not engaging in service-time gamesmanship, unearthing some mysterious Super Three status that would have Juan touring the Eastern League for two weeks this summer in deference to “team control” five years from now. Five years from now, if the Mets want him, Juan’s signed to stay a Met. Six years from now, one hopes, Juan’s working on his eighth Gold Glove and seventh world championship in a Mets uniform. One of those hopes seems quite possible, the other a little optimistic.

Hey, the Grapefruit League season is over and the Mets are looking sharp and Juan Lagares is signed for the long term. It’s as good a time as any to be a little optimistic.

5 comments to And Juan To Grow On

  • Daniel Hall

    Definitely a bargain move, assuming the kid can survive logging 4,500 defensive innings this year (that’s 162 games of 9 innings each, and having to play all three OF positions, give or take a few extra innings).

    And I think it’s a bit too early to be down over Lagares maybe donning some different shirt six years from now. Personally, I won’t even try to think that far. I’m not thinking past April 6 at the moment, when it all starts counting.

  • Inside Pitcher

    Obi Juan Lagares is our only hope.

  • Dave

    Pitching staff has 2 choices this year. Strike hitters out, or get them to hit the ball to CF. Anything else, I’m a little nervous.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    I’ve seen plenty of great defensive center fielders over the years beginning with Willie Mays, and moving on much more recently to the likes of Andruw Jones, Carlos Beltran and Torii Hunter. Juan’s abilities compare favorably with those guys.

    But one can only wonder where Juan would be now if Matt den Dekker hadn’t gotten hurt in Spring Training two years ago.

  • open the gates

    I don’t wonder where Lagares would be. I wonder where Flores and Tejada would be. Juan Lagares would probably have already won his first Gold Glove at shortstop. Possibly coupled with one for den Dekker in center. Oh well…