This post was sent in by friend of The ‘Ropolitans, Mr. Aaron Schuldiner. It was his headline, not mine. Enjoy!
Here’s one man’s breakdown of this Spring’s battle for the second base job:
Pros: Castillo is the most experienced of the bunch by a wide margin. In fact, he’s got more than ten times as many big league at-bats as any of the other major candidates. Also working in Castillo’s favor is the $6 million that he’s owed in 2011. Given the current financial situation of the Mets, you can bet they’re not eager to eat his salary.
Cons: Castillo had a lousy season in 2010, and let’s be honest: the fans absolutely hate him. Would the Mets risk further alienating a fan base that’s already unhappy with the direction of the team? Probably not, unless Castillo has an incredible Spring. Even then, it would be a tough sell. My gut tells me he’s only around because the brass is hoping a big Spring would make him tradable. Seems like a long shot to me.
Pros: The Mets will be thrilled if Emaus’ impressive plate discipline at the minor league level (69 strikeouts, 81 walks between AA and AAA in 2010) translates to the big leagues. Emaus had a .397 OBP in the minors last season, while David Wright’s .354 OBP was the highest among Mets regulars. Helping Emaus’ case is the fact that, as a Rule V draftee, he’d have to be offered back to Toronto is he fails to make the cut.
Cons: The minor league numbers are good, but Emaus has to prove he can do it against big league pitching. Also, the jury is still out on his defense.
Pros: Turner, who the Mets claimed off waivers last May, hit .333 for the Bisons in 312 at-bats. He also posted a .390 OBP and had 34 extra-base hits. The organization, especially Ken Oberkfell, really likes Turner’s potential.
Cons: You have to figure Turner is a long shot since he still has minor league options. Turner hit .308 over the last two seasons at AAA, but looked overmatched in two very short stints (a total of 17 at-bats) in the majors in 2010.
Pros: The last regime had a lot of faith in Murphy’s bat, and made every effort to find a place for him in the lineup. You have to respect Murphy’s willingness to play wherever the Mets ask him to in order to get at-bats. He’s got much more punch than Castillo, and is probably more major league-ready at the plate than Emaus or Turner.
Cons: A serious knee injury cost Murphy almost all of 2010, so it’s going to take some time to determine whether or not he’s at full strength. It’s too early to tell if Team Alderson has as much faith in his bat as Omar Minaya did. Murphy looked clumsy in left field and at first base, so I don’t know what would lead anyone to believe he has the footwork or agility to play second base.
Ruben Tejada/Chin-Lung Hu
Tejada and Hu are long shots to win the job, though it’s not inconceivable that either could make the roster as a utility infielder.
Hu, the MVP of the 2007 MLB Futures Game, has already impressed everyone at camp with his glove. And while he doesn’t pack much punch at the plate, his presence on the team would grant Gary, Keith, and Ron an endless supply of Abbott-and-Costello one-liners. Hu’s on second? Maybe, as a backup.
Ruben Tejada’s chances aren’t quite as good. Terry Collins has expressed his desire to get Tejada regular at-bats at shortstop for AAA Buffalo, which makes sense to me. Getting him ready in case the team decides to trade Reyes is a smart move.
My best guess is that Brad Emaus will be playing second base and batting seventh on Opening Day, but I do reserve the right to change my mind a few (hundred) times between now and then. I think Hu makes the team because of his slick glove, and Murphy sticks around because of his versatility and offensive potential. Turner and Tejada end up playing in Buffalo, and Castillo gets cut.