Grading The Mets: Infield

The Mets infield is the strongest component of the team, and one of the best in baseball.  The infield looks pretty much the same as last year, with the exception of the addition of Alex Cora and the departure of Damion Easley.  It should be noted that Marlon Anderson and Fernando Tatis can play some infield in a pinch, but at this point in their careers they will mainly be used in the outfield.

Carlos Delgado bounced back in a big way (.278, 38 HR, 115 RBI) from an off year in 2007.  It is vital to the integrity of the lineup that he repeats his performance.  When Delgado is on, he makes everyone else in the lineup more dangerous.  His defense is not spectacular, but he more then gets the job done.

Luis Castillo, although against most Met’s fans wishes, will once again man second base.  Although trading for Castillo was a good move for the team, signing him to four year contract is looking like it will go down as Omar Minaya’s worst move as general manager.  In his first full year with the team he played only 87 games with limited productivity (.245, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 17 SB).  He does have upside though if he can stay healthy – as he is a former All-Star and Gold Glove winner.

Not much needs to be said about the guys playing at third and short.  Hopefully, that will be the case for at least the next decade.  David Wright had another All Star season last year (.302, 33 HR, 124 RBI, 15 SB).  He can make a mistake or two at third, but he often makes spectacular plays – which earned him his second straight gold glove.  He faced some criticism this offseason about being immature and not handling pressure well – but I believe it is unfounded.

Jose Reyes will once again wreck havoc on the basepaths this year.  His steals were down from the year prior, but there is no loss of speed, as he legged out a career high 19 triples.  Other then Hanley Ramirez, Reyes is the best hitting shortstop in baseball (.297, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 56 SB).  He also is a very good defender – potentially of being a future gold glove winner.

Although Alex Cora is probably a bit overpriced, I think he is going to prove very valuable by the middle of the season. With Castillo being injury prone, he will probably get most of his playing time at second – but he can also fill in at short and third when Wright or Reyes need a day off.

Jose Valentin will most likely be sent to AAA.  If he accepts the assignment, he will be called up the first time someone takes a trip to the disabled list.  Barring significant injuries, it is doubtful anyone else will be getting any significant playing time. Wilmer Flores is the best prospect in the infield, but is a long way off.  No other infield prospect sticks out as a can’t miss prospect.

Overall Grade: A

Spring Statistics:

Jose Valentin: 45 AB, .267, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Luis Castillo: 42 AB .286, 8 RBI, 2 SB
Jose Reyes: 30 AB, .333, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB
Alex Cora: 20 AB, .200, 2 RBI, 2 SB
Carlos Delgado: 13 AB, .538, 1 HR, 4 RBI
David Wright: 9 AB, .444

Projected Statistics:

Carlos Delgado: .284, 35 HR, 110 RBI
Luis Castillo: .288, 2 HR, 47 RBI, 23 SB
David Wright: .330, 40 HR, 122 RBI, 16 SB, NL MVP
Jose Reyes: .283, 21 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB
Alex Cora: .255, 2 HR, 29 RBI