Who Will Be The Starting Second Baseman In 2011?
I got an interesting email from a reader named Kevin who I immediately liked because he said he’s been following MMO for six years which I thought was very, very cool considering we’ve only been Mets Merized Online for five years. Before that we were strictly just Mets Merized and operated on MySpace since March of 2005.
Anyway, Kevin wanted to know who I thought would be the starting second baseman next season.
It’s actually pretty difficult to give an accurate response given how much could transpire between now and opening day, but I thought I’d give it my best shot.
First let’s look at who all the possible candidates could be that are already in the organization. They include the veteran Luis Castillo, second base prospect Ruben Tejada, minor leaguer Justin Turner, and the often forgotten Daniel Murphy who’s learning the trade in the Dominican Winter League as we speak. 2008 first round draft pick Reese Havens, could also be an option down the line if he can stay healthy and dominate in AAA next season, but I don’t see him entering the picture until 2012 at the soonest. realistically, I don’t see Justin Turner as an option unless he is called into service due to injuries at the major league level.
Let me begin by saying that I do not believe Luis Castillo is long for this team. He’s had a great carer and has been one of the best as far as getting on base is concerned, and used to be one of the better fielding second basemen in the league. However, those days are now behind him, and he has unfairly drawn the ire of the fan base for the four year deal he signed before the 2008 season. Of course that wasn’t Castillo’s fault, but he got the brunt of the anger anyway. If Alderson can’t unload him in the winter, he may just be released outright or they may just keep him but in a utility role which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Ruben Tejada had an interesting rookie year last season, and for a time he was the youngest player in baseball. He did show some marvelous range in the infield, but his footwork and glove work could have been better. I loved his Jeter-esque flip and throw to first base when ranging for balls hit deep in the hole.
Defensively, this kid is gonna shine. However, the Mets need to score runs, and lots of them. Tejada could probably benefit from at least another half season in AAA where he can work on hitting offspeed stuff and driving the ball into the gaps, but I’m thinking that won’t happen and that he will be on the opening day roster, especially if Castillo is gone.
Tejada batted .213 last season in 216 at-bats with a .305 on-base percentage. But if we look at his splits against left handed pitching, there is plenty to smile about. Tejada batted a robust .296 in 54 at-bats with a .377 OBP. Those are numbers any major league manager would love to have in their lineup, which leads me to this.
What if we can play Tejada as part of a platoon at second base, and bring in a left handed hitting second baseman to platoon with him?
Enter Daniel Murphy.
I know Murphy is still a work in progress, but one thing we’ve all learned from Murph is that he is dedicated to his craft and is a quick study. He wants to play and will do anything to get back into the Mets lineup.
We already know the kid can hit, and we’ve seen how quickly he adapted to first base in 2009 when Delgado went on the shelf and Murphy stepped in as the emergency fill-in, eventually taking over the position for the rest of the season. If not for an injury, the plan was for Murphy to be the everyday first baseman to start the season in 2010.
Currently, Murphy is doing very well playing in the Dominican Winter League and batting well over .300 while spraying the ball to all fields. He has the perfect swing for Citi Field and I believe he can perform adequately at second base next season.
According to Mike Francesa, J.P. Ricciardi has already warmed up to the idea, and as you can tell, so have I.
In 535 career at-bats, Murphy has batted .282 against right handed pitching with a .340 OBP. But here is what really caught my attention, he also had 68 extra-base hits which included 47 doubles, 7 triples and 14 home runs. That’s some pretty amazing production if you ask me.
I believe that platooning Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy next season is a slam dunk.
Not only would I expect tremendous production from the second base position, but it will come at less than $1 million dollars in payroll.
The experience will help Tejada stay in the majors and play a vital role, while keeping Murphy’s bat on the roster and molding him to be a premier utility man who can play four different positions.
That’s what I’m betting on so far, and I expect that’s what we will see in 2011 barring any unforeseen traded or signings.
It’s that time of the year again when we look to add some new names and fresh perspectives to our All Star lineup of Mets bloggers. This time we are looking to add a couple of saber-minded bloggers who can shed some light on on this new era of Mets baseball and ease some of us into some of the new stats and terms we’ll be hearing more about as Sandy Alderson puts his stamp on the team.
We are also looking for a someone to help us cover even more minor league news and winter ball news as well.
Finally, we need another blogger to help us stay on top of all the hot stove action and cover all the big rumors, trades and signings.
If you are interest in sharing your opinions and your talents with thousands of other passionate Mets fans, contact me immediately and tell me a little about yourself, any writing or blogging experience you may have, and writing samples would be appreciated too, but not necessary. MMO is one of the fastest growing sports sites on the web, and is currently drawing over 120,000 page views per day from over 11,500 different readers daily. Contact Us Now!
About the Author: Joe DeCaro
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.
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