The Situation at First Base

In Port St. Lucie, there is a “situation” — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike Sorrentino find his way into the mix.

Because “The Situation” — meaning the Mets’ conundrum at first base, and not some guido from the Jersey Shore — grows more perplexing every day.

Originally, first base was Daniel Murphy’s job to lose; if it weren’t, the Mets most certainly would have aggressively pursued free agents such as Adam LaRoche, Nick Johnson, Hank Blalock, Troy Glaus, Garrett Atkins, Chad Tracy, and Aubrey Huff (to name a few). Strangely enough, though, GM Omar Minaya brought in Mike Jacobs on a minor league deal, and on February 15th announced that the starting job was an “open competition”.

As is par for the course with the miscommunicating Mets, manager Jerry Manuel followed that up four days later with the assertion that Murphy was “pretty much the guy” at 1B — and that he wasn’t really in competition with Jacobs, nor was he going to platoon with Fernando Tatis.

The Situation at first base has been similarly clear (as mud) ever since, with the Mets changing their tune as quickly, often, and unpredictably as the weather.

For example, in response to Ike Davis’ explosive beginning to the spring, Manuel reaffirmed that Murphy was the first baseman, and that “unforeseen things would have to happen” to unseat him.

Nine days later, however, a different tune was sung by Manuel, as he termed 1B “a competitive situation” between Murphy and Jacobs.

That’s all well and good, except, if Murphy is to lose the first base job, I’m not sure why he’d lose it to Mike Jacobs, since neither player is having a particularly impressive spring — both are hitting FAR below the Mendoza Line (which means they’re under .200, kiddies).

In contrast, Ike Davis and Chris Carter are absolutely blistering the baseball — both hitting well over .400 with long-distance power, and both getting on base more than 50% of the time. The next-best candidate, in fact, is 8th-string catcher Chris Coste, who is 4-for-11 (.364) with 2 doubles.

To put things in more frightening perspective, consider that Frank Catalanotto has an equal number of RBI and walks as Murphy, and he’s hitting .100.

But spring training numbers don’t mean anything, right? Or wait, they must mean something, if Daniel Murphy has gone from owning the starting 1B job to on his way to losing it.

The confusion, of course, is if indeed spring training performance means something, then why is Murphy losing to Jacobs and not Davis, Carter, or Coste?

As if this situation at first isn’t already bordering on insanity, there are reports that the Mets are scouting Mike Lowell — though, they’re also reportedly “not interested”. What’s more perplexing to you? The fact that the Mets are sending scouts to see someone they don’t want, or that they are scouting yet another first baseman to add to an already bewildering mix?

The more I toss this “logic” around in my head, the more I realize that “The Situation” on the Jersey Shore makes as much sense as the first base situation in Port St. Lucie.

2010 Spring Training

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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