Mets manager Terry Collins has said that he would like to get each of his potential second base candidates some more at-bats over the next few days as he starts to whittle down the playing field.
Reports surfaced earlier this week that Collins wanted Luis Hernandez to be the Mets starter at second base. However, those reports were quickly shot down and might have only been done to light a fire under the other candidates.
Today we learned that Daniel Murphy is likely out of the competition and will be used more as a super-utility player. If that’s the case, at least Murphy should have a spot on the team.
That being said, Murphy is starting to today at second base, so it begs the question of whether or not he’s really still in the competition.
Since all along Collins and Sandy Alderson have been saying that they want second base to be an offensive position, why on earth would they settle for Hernandez?
Hernandez is a .245 career hitter who’s played for three different teams. Maybe the Mets are hoping this Hernandez hits like Keith? That’s unlikely.
Hernandez has looked decent at the plate so far this spring but in limited action. He’ll be starting at shortstop today.
He’s out of options, so he would have to clear waivers before being sent to Buffalo. Most likely, another team in need of middle infield depth would pick him up. However, would that be the worst thing that happens?
The Mets have other players out of options, most notably Nick Evans. I would rather see the team keep Evans as a bench player than have Hernandez as the starting second baseman.
If Collins and Alderson are true to their word, Murphy is the answer at second base. Unfortunately, Murphy hasn’t had enough chances in the field, especially on double plays, to show he is ready.
Murphy has six doubles this spring and has driven in seven runs. He would be a nice compliment to the back end of the Mets lineup.
I was at first worried that if Murphy was the starter at second, the bottom of the order would be chock full of lefties. Murphy, Ike Davis and Josh Thole all bat left-handed.
However, if the Mets were to face a tough left hander, Ronny Paulino could get a start behind the dish, and Chin-lung Hu, not Brad Emaus, could slide in at second.
That’s right: Chin-lung Hu. Hu could also be a late defensive replacement for Murphy.
Though Hu has swung the bat well this spring, Hu/Murphy would by no means be a platoon. I guess it would be a defensive platoon if such a thing existed.
Murphy would start and hopefully get a few hits and drive in some runs. If the game is close late, Collins would insert Hu defensively to sure up the middle infield, especially if a double play is necessary.
If this was the case, the following would all have to occur. Emaus gets sent back to Toronto; Luis Castillo gets released; Luis Hernandez is either picked up by another team or sent to Buffalo; Justin Turner appears destined for Buffalo anyway since he has options left; the Mets would likely have to carry Nick Evans to provide some right-handed punch off the bench because they wouldn’t get that from Hu.
The speculation will continue to evolve in the coming days about which player or combination of players will man second base. What I presented combines the Mets best offensive and defensive player.
In a perfect world, this could work great. However, what if the Mets are in a tie ballgame in the fifth inning and the opposing team has the bases loaded with one out. A slow chopper is hit out to Jose Reyes who flips to Murphy, who then botches the double play, which allows two runs to score and keeps the inning alive. The Mets fall behind which usually spells their fate.
It’s a tough call either way, so I’m glad I’m not the one making the decision. I definitely don’t think Hernandez is the answer, but other than that it’s really just a guessing game until we find out who is.
Maybe Murphy’s Irish luck will allow him to open some eyes today during St. Patrick’s Day.
Follow me on Twitter@JMMancari.