The New York Mets are looking to spend some money this winter to upgrade their roster and one area that figures to get some attention is at shortstop. The Mets have already reached out to 36-year-old Rafael Furcal to see if he would be a fit at shortstop.
This is just preliminary and nothing is imminent. Furcal missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. However, in 2012 he hit .264/.325/.346 with five home runs, 49 RBI and 69 runs scored. He is a contact hitter who doesn’t strikeout much as he has whiffed just 903 times in 6442 at-bats. However, Furcal has had trouble staying healthy and has only appeared in more than 120 games twice since 2008.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson is looking to upgrade his roster and Furcal, despite his age and injury history, could be an upgrade over incumbent shortstop Ruben Tejada. However, that is a huge if and might not be worth the chance. The Mets have soured on Tejada lately as he took a huge step back this past season and hit just .202/.259/.260 after hitting .289/.333/.351 in 2012 and .284/.360/.335 in 2011. The Mets were hoping Tejada would continue to hit as he has in the past two season but the Mets soured on him so much that he was shipped to the minors to work out some issues and light a fire under him.
The Mets would be better off investing in a better shortstop than Furcal, at least one with a more reliable track record than Furcal. Asking a 36-year-old to play a majority of innings at shortstop with Furcal’s history of injuries which include the shoulder, ankle and almost everything in between would be asking a lot. The Mets would be better off checking in on Stephen Drew or Jhonny Peralta, two shortstops that would be clear upgrades. Then again, maybe Tejada gets back to being a .280/.330/.340 hitter he looked like in the two previous years.
It is hard to give up on a 24-year-old shortstop who can flash some leather and slap singles around, especially in favor of a 36-year-old who used to flash some leather and can slap singles around. The Mets would be better off investing in Drew or Peralta or even letting Tejada try to redeem himself than giving significant playing time to Furcal. One area where adding Furcal makes sense is if it is to mentor Tejada. If the Mets expect Furcal to take over the starting role that would be a mistake.