The Mets haven’t developed a second baseman since Edgardo Alfonzo. In the eight seasons since his last appearance with the team, fans have watched Luis Castillo, Jose Valentin, Anderson Hernandez, Kaz Matsui and Roberto Alomar’s doppelganger try and man the position with very little success, but finally there’s some hope for the future of that position. Sandy Alderson has lined up several young players with something to prove to compete for the position, and while that’s generally a positive, I fear he may have overloaded Terry Collins with too many options.
I know, too many options at second base doesn’t register with Mets fans, but I counted EIGHT players that will be invited to camp that will require playing time at that position. And in a month and a half of spring training, is that enough time for Collins to give each player enough of a shot to prove his worth?
Daniel Murphy, Luis Castillo, Brad Emaus and maybe even Justin Turner seem to have the leg up on the competition, but Ruben Tejada will see some time there and so will Chin-lung Hu and Luis Hernandez, despite not having much of a shot to be the opening day second baseman. So, too, will Jordany Valdespin, who for the life of me, I can’t understand why he’ll be in Port St. Lucie.
Due to the volume, I wouldn’t even have Valdespin in camp. He’s only played 28 games above A ball, and has been ok with the bat, to the tune of a .277/.328/.406 slash line in 1,001 plate appearances. But the 28 errors in 175 games in his minor league career at second base doesn’t instill a ton of confidence. To compound his defensive misadventures, he’s not much of a shortstop, either, with an unfathomable 17 errors in 47 games. A decent offensive output coupled with atrocious defensive numbers for a kid who’s spent 88% of his time in the low minors is simply taking playing time from a better, more conceivable option.
Hu has the best odds of going north, I think, because he seems best suited out of all the competition for a necessary position, the backup middle infielder. It’s because of this I’d give him a little less game action than the others, as he doesn’t have as much to prove than the others. Luis Hernandez is another waste of a spot as far as I’m concerned, as he’s been a moderately good shortstop with no other position and steps up to the plate wielding a wiffle ball bat. He’s 26, not a spring chicken, and a ten-year veteran of pro ball. If anyone sees an Angel Pagan-type season from him in 2011, then I applaud your optimism.
Tejada’s tricky for me. I like the idea of Tejada playing shortstop in AAA, as Reyes may or may not be back in 2012 and not having viable alternative is the shortsighted problem that’s plagued the Mets recently. Because of that shortsightedness, the team had to waste a year of his control proving he’s not a major leaguer yet. But I love his potential. He’s very athletic and very smart, but he needs figure out how to catch his body up to his mind and make the plays on the field he’s making in his head.
That leaves Murphy, Castillo, Emaus and Turner as the four remaining candidates to fight for the starting job. Management has gone on record as saying Castillo won’t be with the team in any other role than as the starting second baseman, and Murphy has very little experience at the position, though is likely the best option offensively speaking. Minor league statistics show that Turner is a better hitter than Emaus, but Emaus is better with the glove and is probably a better overall player. It also has to be kept in mind that one of the two also has to be capable to back up third base, which eliminates Castillo and doesn’t give any of the other options an advantage, as it appears Emaus is simply the lesser of three evils.
That’s a lot to for Collins to deal with, and wouldn’t it make sense for each candidate to have as large as sample size as possible to judge?