Mets Second Base Logjam

By tedswedalla

The New York Mets are going to need to play about 80 preseason games to give each of their second base options a decent look.

Right now, the favorite appears to be Daniel Murphy. You wouldn’t think someone whose only experience at second is 17 games in Double-A in 2008, would be leading this race, but its his offense that the Mets need. With his primary position taken by Ike Davis, second base makes the most sense to keep him in the lineup.

Last season the Mets second basemen had as many homeruns as their pitchers, one. The position produced just 48 RBIs, hit .226 and slugged .285, worst on the Mets for any position player last season. Murphy would be an instant improvement on those numbers. In a little more than a full season, Murphy has a .275 lifetime average and is slugging .437. Numbers that haven’t been seen at second base in a long time in Flushing.

Justin Turner is also a possibility at second base. He was claimed off waivers from the Orioles last year and hit 312 in almost 400 at-bats between the two organizations at Triple-A. He wasn’t called up to the big club despite going 6-for-6 with a cycle on the final day of Buffalo’s season.

Last years’ opening day second baseman, Luis Castillo, is also in the mix, if only because the Mets can’t get rid of him and are reluctant to release him. Castillo has never really caught on in New York, especially with the fans and most want him gone.

Another person in the mix is infielder Brad Emaus, a Rule 5 pickup from the Blue Jays. New Mets manager Terry Collins had this to say about Emaus.

“Obviously, with J.P. (Ricciardi, a former Toronto GM) involved, we had real, real good information about him, what kind of player he is. Talked to some people in the Dominican about him, talked to Obie (Ken Oberkfell, the Mets’ new bench coach and Emaus’ manager in the Dominican winter league) about him because Obie has seen quite a bit of him. He said he is a solid player, looks like he can play a couple of positions. His approach at home plate is something that’s going to fit here. He’s a big pitch-selection kind of guy, good walk-to-strikeout ratio. We’re going to give him a shot in that mix at second.”

As a Rule 5 pickup, Emaus would need to make the Mets 25-man roster or he would have to be returned to the Blue Jays organization.

The newest addition to the second base mix is Chin-lung Hu. The former Dodgers middle infielder will most likely serve as Jose Reyes back up in 2011. Like Murphy he does have limited second base experience and will be given equal opportunity to win the job.

Another of last years options was Ruben Tejada, who played 50 games at second last season, is more of a shortstop and not in the Mets second base plans. He played last season because; one, the Mets wanted to see how he handled major league pitching, and, two, Luis Castillo’s failures.

His plan involves spending the season in Triple-A at shortstop to gain more experience. The kind of year he has will go far into determining the Mets plans at shortstop. If Tejada has a good season and looks ready to take over in 2012 expect the Mets to allow Jose Reyes to leave as a free agent.

That’s five guys who are going to be fighting for the second base job, Murphy, Turner, Castillo, Emaus and Hu, Expect two of these guys to make the team out of spring training. They all have their pluses and minuses.

Castillo is the only switch-hitter, but also the only one who plays just one position. Murphy is the only left-hander, but not a natural middle-infielder, unlike all the others.

Second base was one of the Mets major weaknesses last season, but the moves the Mets have made so far this off-season give fans hope for the future. The names may not be big splashy names, but they have the potential to be solid players and possible fan favorites.

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