Is Manuel Leaning Toward Mike Jacobs At First Base?

I created quite a firestorm the other day when I wrote… I’m just kidding, I always wanted to know what it felt like to write an intro like that…

One of our readers (Bayonne Met Fan) posted a link to a comment by Adam Rubin that read,

Look for Jacobs to even potentially chip away at Daniel Murphy’s playing time as the season progresses, assuming Jacobs makes the club. Manuel has been testing a 3-4-5 order of Wright-Jacobs-Jason Bay. Let’s say the manager goes to that lineup the first Saturday of the season and rests Murphy, and Jacobs goes 3-for-4 with a homer. Manuel would go back to that lineup again quickly.

When the Mets first signed Jacobs to that minor league deal back in February, I probably put his real chances of making the team as a bench player at less than 50%. Man, was I wrong…

If you were to consider the spring training battle for first base, and give the job to the clear winner based on their spring performance, than go ahead and pencil Mike Jacobs into the Mets Opening Day lineup.  In 27 plate appearances, Murphy has just four hits and is sporting a .194 on-base percentage. Jacobs, in only 20 at-bats has as many hits as Murphy, two homeruns, five walks and a .360 OBP to go with a .860 OPS.

I have no doubt that Jacobs’ .505 slugging percentage and .830 OPS against right-handed pitchers would make for a solid platoon with Fernando Tatis, and also add a solid middle of the order presence to our lineup, at least until Carlos Beltran returns from the disabled list.

If it was a true competition going in, and a true competition going out, than we may have ourselves a new face at first base on Monday, April 5th against the Marlins. Actually, it would be Jacobs’ second stint with the Mets. When we last saw him in a Mets uniform in 2005, he batted .310 with 11 home runs and 23 RBI’s in 100 at-bats, while posting a 1.085 OPS. Wow… I almost forgot just how fast he busted out of the gate that year.

According to a comment in a post by Marty Noble a few days ago, Mike Jacobs isn’t nearly as bad a defensive first baseman as some have suggested. Noble wrote,

“Mike Jacobs is handling his first base assignments more gracefully and reliably than the club anticipated”.

Additionally, Jacobs has agreed to don his old catching gear after being asked by the Mets if he would be willing to catch on a limited basis, according to a Adam Rubin of the Daily News who believes that Jacobs is now the leading candidate for the final bench spot with the Mets. It would certainly give Manuel more flexibility in managing his bench late in games knowing that he can pinch hit for Rod Barajas against a tough right-handed pitcher, and still keep Blanco on the bench.

If Jacobs does supplant Murphy at first base, would Murphy be a better utility player than Frank Catalanotto?

What exactly happens to Daniel Murphy should Jacobs wrestle the first base job away from him?

Well according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, the Mets have an opportunity develop him into a Ty Wigginton type utility player. He believes that the Mets have miscast Daniel Murphy and have tried to make him something he’s not, basically asserting that Murph has neither the bat or the glove to justify a starting position anywhere. He writes,

To me the Mets are wasting development time when it comes to prepping Murphy for the job that will help the team the most: Which is to make him a jack-of-all-trades. I see Murphy as a lefty version of Ty Wigginton, someone who is not going to be a strong defensive player anywhere, but whose versatility and ability to hit to a fine degree make him a contributing player.

I can’t really argue with his logic, and when you consider that Murphy was just a place-holder for Ike Davis anyway, the Mets were going to have to confront this issue in 2011 regardless, so why not tackle it now?

The best case scenario from Murphy’s point of view would probably be a trade to an American League team who can better appreciate his offensive talents without waiting for him to learn and excel at any particular defensive position.

But as for Mike Jacobs, it’s now become abundantly clear that he has impacted the Mets plans going into the new season and only two weeks remain to see if that impact comes off the bench or as a regular first baseman.

About Joe D 7944 Articles
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, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.