Forget The O-Dog, Mets Should Pursue Brandon Phillips

With the Winter Meetings already underway, Mets GM Omar Minaya (or according to some, Jeff Wilpon in disguise) is faced with the daunting task of building a World Series contending team for 2010.

Aside from the obvious needs of a left fielder and a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, Minaya has made it clear that the team will be looking to upgrade at second base.

This past week there have already been rumblings about a potential deal that would send the incumbent, Luis Castillo, to the Chicago Cubs.

If Minaya is able to move Castillo, the talk is that the team will pursue the guy they let get away last season, Orlando Hudson.

Hudson seems to be a pretty good fit for the team. He is noted as being a good clubhouse guy, has produced consistently over the past five years or so, and according to numerous sources, wants to play in New York. However, what if the Mets could do even better than Hudson?

According to Ed Price and Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse [Hat tip to MLB Trade Rumors for the link], the Cincinnati Reds are in cost cutting mode after a large drop off in fan attendance. As a result, in an effort to remain financially sound, the team is looking to unload some of their pricey veterans.

At the top of the list is All-Star second baseman, Brandon Phillips, who has two years and $17.75 million left on his contract along with a $12 million club option for 2012.

To a struggling small market team, like the Reds this contract looks horrendous. However, to the Mets the contract doesn’t nearly look so bad, especially when you consider that they owe Castillo $12 million for his two remaining years of service.

The question that still looms is that if the Mets can trade Castillo, which second baseman should they pursue?

To answer this let’s take a look at how both Phillips and Hudson performed last season.

Both players totaled roughly the same amount of at-bats last year. Both of their averages are similar, with Hudson having slightly better numbers.

However, the power numbers are where Phillips really shines. Last season alone, Phillips hit more than double the amount of homers that Hudson hit and drove in nearly one third more runners.

Phillips is also a speedster, which would compliment lead-off hitter, Jose Reyes nicely.

Acquiring Phillips, would give the Mets a legitimate power threat in the number two hole, which is something they haven’t had in quite some time.

It would also compensate the lack of power at first base, assuming that they stick with Daniel Murphy, as they are interested in doing.

The only downside to taking Phillips over Hudson is that a deal involving Phillips will require the Mets to give up prospects, whereas Hudson would only cost the team cash. However, you’d have to think that due to this potential trade being a salary dump that the return would not include any elite prospects if the Mets agreed to take on all of Phillips’s salary.

It should be interesting to see which direction the Mets go throughout the next few months, but if do, in fact, look for a new second baseman, Brandon Phillips should be their guy.