First Quarter Report Card: Position Players
Since we are over 1/4 into the season, it’s a good time to check in on the performances from our heroes in Flushing. While we are still at the part of the season that can be deemed “early”, we can get a feel for what is working and what is not.
Disclaimer: I am not a scout, I just play one on the internet.
Josh Thole: Before landing on the DL, Thole was hitting a solid .284 with a .356 OBP. He often is a scapegoat for Mets fans, but those are more than respectable numbers for the position. His defense will always be scrutinized, yet it seems getting to the point where he might be serviceable back there. I have no issues with a catcher who can hit close to .300 and get on base often.
Mike Nickeas: That grand slam was all kind of awesome. The bat will never be there, but I’ve always liked how he’s handled the pitching staff. I like him as a backup even tho…
Rob Johnson: …looked pretty good with the stick after being recalled, hitting over .300 and playing solid defense. It’s too bad he had to return to Buffalo upon Thole’s return, because this team really needs some catching depth. Maybe he can be used in the bullpen? No?
Ike Davis: Where for art thou Ike? Do we have our version of 2011 Adam Dunn? I sure hope not. He has looked a bit better the last few games but still looks very lost at the plate. It’s been well documented that he is a mess up there, even when he has hit the ball hard it always seems to find a glove. I do not have any issues keeping him up to work through his issues. He is statistically the worst the player in the league right now. The Mets need all the offense they can get, and need Ike for this. It’s time to send him down for a month to work out the kinks.
Daniel Murphy: Good news: the Irish Hammer is batting .286 with a .335 OBP. Bad news: where is all the extra-base power? When he first burst onto the scene in Flushing, Murph was a doubles machine who mixed in the occasional blast. Now? lots of slap hits, dinks and dunks. Very few line drives. As endearing as Murph is, I do not believe he is the long-term answer at 2nd unless he rediscovers his extra-base prowess. We’ve all seen this type of offensive show from our second basemen before. He is a fan favorite, but Murphy is not the same player he was a couple years ago.
David Wright: This is as comfortable Wright has looked in a long time. Spraying line drives all over the field, even to the opposite field! His fielding has improved as well, after performing less then admirably the last couple years. Not only has Wright hit a ridiculous .357 to this point, but he has finally settled in very nicely into the leadership role. You can count on Sandy Alderson locking him up for the foreseeable future.
Justin Turner: You can’t go wrong with a guy like this on the roster. He hits well enough to fill in for injuries, and I’m pretty sure if Collins asked him to man a different position each inning he would do so. When discussing him with Darren from the 7line.com he said it best, “he’s the new Joe McEwing“. Nothing wrong with that.
Ruben Tejada: Yet another player who does an excellent job of getting on base (.362) and producing some hits (.305), he even tacked on 10 doubles before finding his way to the DL. His defense was much improved, and he looked smoother and more confident compared to last year. After looking like a little leaguer at the plate when he first came up, he has turned himself into a solid MLB player.
Jordany Valdespin: I am very curious to see how he would perform with consistent ABs, as his talent sure is intriguing. He seems impatient at the plate and uncomfortable playing shortstop. I really want to see him get a shot at the second base job; if Terry Collins is willing to try Murph, Valdespin deserves a chance. That bomb off of Jonathan Papelbon was a beautiful thing!
Ronny Cedeno: Solid fielder, not so much with the bat. He is pretty much the typical backup.
Omar Quintanilla: This list is exhausting; I feel like I’m doing a Buffalo roster breakdown as well. Another mocked signing, but has needed to fill in with the shortstops dropping like flies. You can never have too much depth. He should hold the fort while we wait for Cedeno to come back, once more with solid defense and OK bat.
Lucas Duda: Look who is starting to get hot. With Ike still trying to find himself this is exactly what the team needs. His power potential is scary, then again so is fielding potential. If he can hit 20-30 bombs a year, I can live with the adventures in the outfield.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Today’s sign that you watch too much baseball: I was able to type that without double-checking my spelling. After a hot start, Kirk has come back down to earth. Still, a .286/.347 clip is a nice way to start a career after 58 games. His glove has been better then advertised and he can hit just about anywhere in the order. Collins need to play him more then Andres Torres, as we need to find out if Kirk is a viable everyday option or a platoon player.
Mike Baxter: What a surprise the kid from Queens has been. Went from a doubles machine off the bench to a solid leadoff man, creating a good problem for the Mets outfield situation — until he went on the DL. He made a heck of a grab to keep the no-hitter intact, loved the reaction from his teammates and the crowd.
Andres Torres: His offense was the worry upon signing, and it remains so. Andres has a solid OBP of .333 but is only batting .216, and in my eyes at least, fallen behind in the outfield logjam. He seems like a perfect 4th outfielder, as he can play every outfield position and has some speed.
Scott Hairston: So much for having the worst bench in the majors eh? This guy flat out destroys lefties. Near the top of the team’s leader in homeruns and RBI despite coming off the bench is impressive. And he doesn’t embarrass himself in the field either. No complaints here.
Vinny Rottino: He’s hit a couple bombs in his brief time up, a nice story (a lot of those this year..) for the career minor leaguer. Rottino’s and Hairston’s power off the bench is nice to have.
Jason Bay: How awesome was that Whalers jersey?
And those are my views for the first two months of the season. The big trend is that most of the roster is getting on base at a consistent clip. Considering the lack of speed and power for the moment, that is very important. The Mets field a very young team, and you can expect weeks when this offense is humming and weeks when it is not going to look pretty.
Things to keep an eye on: Can Kirk keep up solid production as film gets around? Will Murphy find his ability to hit doubles again? Can Ike put it together or is he this year’s Adam Dunn (or is that Rickie Weeks?). Is Wright capable of hitting over .350 for an entire season? Who will get hurt next?