We are talking the temp,ate that screams “fourth outfielder projection”: Smith and Bishop. The question is always: which fourth outfielder templates (of which there are so many) break out to become regulars: CF defensive assets as well as highly desired leadoff hitters. Look at who is playing leadoff and CF now in Cleveland: our old friend and would be fourth outfielder Leonys Martin. He’s been playing that role (someday we’ll find his replacement, but for now, he’s doing the job) for a number of years now: for Texas, Seattle, Detroit, and now Cleveland. But he’ll always be considered a placeholder.
Interestingly, top flight teams have their own budding CF/LF leadoff hitters playing the role as fourth OF but have an established body of work at the approximate age of 26-27 similar or even superior to Smith and Bishop. Houston has the guy I would want: Tony Kemp. He’s their fourth outfielder, period. I’d trade for him in a minute and put him in CF. Cleveland has Greg Allen, who was stunningly effective in the final month and a half for Cleveland last season. All three: Bishop, Allen, Kemp, are off to poor starts. It happens. Bishop‘s body of work doesn’t suggest to me he is qualitatively different.
Smith is definitely the better gamble to break that mold, having done the job in Tampa Bay. Perhaps he needs to clear his head in AAA, as Greg Allen did for Cleveland after June swooning prior to his strong finish. Allen was just shipped to AAA in fact.
We are still far behind Houston (well, duh, Rick). But I will enjoy the challenge. Smith is likely the future, but yeah, we may need to burn that final option.