Archive: March 18th, 2011

The Second Base Debacle

The much-anticipated, much-hyped, and much-ballyhooed drama of Mets 2011 spring training was to be the battle for second base. Everyone and their brother (and their sister as well) was convinced that Brad Emaus and/or Dan Murphy would dazzle with double plays and batter the baseball when at bat, while Luis Castillo was pushed out to pasture. And if Murphy or Emaus didn’t set the world on fire, then darkhorse Justin Turner would emerge from his AAAA-status and steal the job from under them.

Instead, we’ve had one big blah of a competition.

Loyal MetsToday reader and commenter “argonbunnies” had this to say in the comments yesterday:

If there are a limited number of 2B innings and ABs to go around, why are we wasting any of them on guys who aren’t actually options there?

Luis Hernandez has never hit well in his minor league career; it doesn’t matter how good a defender he is, he’s a .600 OPS guy… and we already have a slick fielder with a questionable (though better) bat in Hu!

Justin Turner may be the best option, but it’s not likely, and it won’t cost us anything to stash him in AAA while we check out Emaus or whoever. Turner simply won’t be our starting 2B.

Finally, there’s Castillo. It’s a little more likely that he’s our best 2B option. But what are the odds of him helping in 2012? 0% And what are the chances of us finding a 2012 2B in 2011 if we give Castillo the job? Also 0%. Let’s give ourselves a chance to find something in an unknown quantity. If Emaus and Murphy can hit and need to learn 2B on the job, that’s as good a use of 2011 as any.

Plus, Castillo’s a negativity funnel for media and fans; having him gone will be a relief. How does Collins and everyone else forget that he was GREAT after the dropped pop-up? He manned up, played hard, and had a .400+ OBP for the rest of 2009. But all that anyone remembers is the bad stuff. I think he’s just cursed with a sullen-looking face. Anyway…

Alderson should have demoted Turner and waived Hernandez on Monday if not earlier. No-brainers. (Castillo is trickier.) Instead he’s letting a manager who was hired to be more fiery than brilliant influence personnel decisions. Gah!

If this team is really going to have the Smart Exec stamp on it, give Collins a reality check. Terry, your job is to evaluate how much 2B playing time you want to give to Hu, Emaus and Murphy. No, there is no “utility infielder” job for Murphy; Wright, Reyes and Davis will be playing every single day. If you’re looking for a spot for Murphy other than 2B, get him in the OF ASAP. Despite a few horrific moments out there, he really wasn’t awful overall, and may have more range than Duda.

Finally, what’s the logic of having Hu and Willie Harris both on the roster? If Harris is more valuable overall, then spending a roster spot just in case Reyes gets hurt is ridiculous — that’s what AAA is for. If Hu’s glove and hitting potential are better, let Willie go. It’s not like Hairston can’t play the OF. I mean, I’d love to root for Harris, he seems cool, but he’s not much of a hitter and we’ve only got so much room for defensive specialists. We’re already sacrificing future potential (Nick Evans) for current results (Hairston) in one spot; we can’t afford to do that on multiple counts.

Some of this could be solved by carrying one fewer reliever, but we’ve got the same crunch there as with Emaus and Hu — if we don’t find space for Misch, Izzy, Beato and Acosta, we lose ‘em.

Honestly, I couldn’t have stated any of this better myself — I agree with every single point “argonbunnies” makes (what IS an argon bunny, btw? does it taste better than a chocolate bunny?). What do you think, and how would you handle these personnel decisions? Post your thoughts in the comments and let’s hash this out.