MMO Fair or Foul: Mets Should Cut Justin Turner
Chris McShane of Amazin Avenue get’s the nod in this weeks edition of Fair or Foul after arguing that the Mets should designate Justin Turner for assignment in all due haste. He writes,
Last night, Terry Collins inexplicably started Justin Turner over Ike Davis at first base. He shouldn’t have had the option.
In limited playing time this year, Turner has been even worse than he was last year. He didn’t exactly set the bar high, hitting .260/.334/.356 with a .311 wOBA in 2011, but he is hitting .258/.302/.326 with a .280 wOBA this year.
It’s hard to figure out why exactly Turner has been on the Mets’ roster all along. While he’s been a good hitter in high-leverage situations, there’s no reason to believe Turner is capable of maintaining such production. And although Turner has played all four infield positions this season, calling him a utility player is really a misnomer since he’s not particularly adept at playing any of them.
The Mets have a pair of players readily available in Buffalo, each of whom could probably provide an upgrade over Turner in the same role: Valentino Pascucci and Josh Satin. Both are right-handed hitters who have shown an ability to get on base and hit for power in the minors.
Of course, the Mets had a player a lot like Pascucci and Satin in Vinny Rottino, but he is now with theCleveland Indians because the Mets chose to designate him rather than Turner for assignment when Ronny Cedeno and Ruben Tejada returned to the active roster. Still, the Mets have the opportunity to atone for a bad decision by making a better one now.
I think it’s very unfair for McShane to say there’s no reason to expect Justin Turner to continue performing well in high-leverage situations, but not applying the same standard to the inverse? Who’s to say that Turner will continue to perform below average in non-high leverage situations? Where’s the objective value of saying Turner probably won’t continue to do well in high-leverage at-bats, but will continue to do poorly in low-leverage at-bats? I believe a little fairness is in order here.
Furthermore, who’s to say that Val Pascucci or Josh Satin would be an improvement over Justin Turner?
One look at their major league equivalencies gives one great cause for concern. And what about the chemistry factor, a factor that is non-existent in most sabermetric circles, but nevertheless alive and well in the majority of clubhouses regardless?
Turner is one of the most intense presences in that clubhouse. He’s the first one to jump out of the dugout in a win, and although I’m not a fan of the whipped cream pies, there’s no doubt it has had a bonding effect on the team and is well received. He is one of the most respected and likable guys on the team, and while some fans put no value on that, I certainly do.
But let’s talk numbers…
In 2011, Justin Turner put up a slash of .378/.457/.537/.994 in 94 high-leverage (clutch) plate appearances. In 2012, he has ramped that up to .500/.556/.643/1.198 in 18 high-leverage plate appearances.
Is Josh Satin or Val Pascucci going to replace that? In 85 plate appearances Pascucci has batted .192 and there isn’t a scout who doesn’t believe he’s anything but your classic AAAA player, and at 33 years old nobody expects him to cut it in the majors in the twilight of his career. Satin on the other hand, has an identical .192 average after a couple of cups of coffee in the majors, but at least shows signs that he could eventually get a shoat at a major league bench gig, but at 27 time is running out quickly for him and his 70 strikeouts in 257 at-bats doesn’t quite seem like an indication of future major league success. In fact, Satin’s 70 strikeouts are three fewer than Justin Turner’s 73 in 559 at-bats over the last two seasons! Satin strikes out more than twice as much as Turner does!
Who do you want up in the ninth inning with the tying run at third base and two outs, Justin Turner, Josh Satin or one of the all-time strikeout leaders in minor league history, Vall Pascucci (1,332 K’s)?
“Justin Turner is a money player. When the game is on the line and you need a clutch at-bat in a huge spot, there’s only one player on this team you want up in that situation and that’s Justin Turner. That’s what what makes Turner such a money player.” – Bobby Ojeda
When asked about Turner’s ability to turn on the adrenaline in a critical at-bat, Terry Collins had this to say:
“Of all the guys on the team Turner is probably the most disciplined in those situations. He just wants to put the ball in play and he doesn’t care where it goes.”
Until you give me a name that I know will outperform Justin Turner in clutch situations, I don’t want to hear any talk about releasing or cutting him.
The Mets have plenty of areas to worry about, but our backup utility infielder who is the team’s best pinch-hitter over the last two seasons isn’t one of them.
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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