Following the great work done by our very own Satchel Price this afternoon about the Marlins third-base job, which I agree, should not go to the light hitting plus defender Matt Dominguez, let's discuss another NL East topic, the Mets second-base vacancy.
In my opinion, Chin-Lung Hu isn't a candidate to be a Major League everyday infielder, especially up the middle. Thus, the $6MM Luis Castillo, Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus, and the only 2009 New York Met to play more than 150 games, 25 year old Daniel Murphy. I'll be honest, I trust the new Mets management to make a proper decision taking in to account everything that must be thought of when making the decision whether it's a day or a week before Opening Day, although it'll be a hard decision. I'll say this though, if I'm Sandy Alderson, I think it's Murphy's job to lose.
Starting off with Emaus, I got a chance to see the Fisher Cats play many times last summer and Emaus, was an integral part in their early season success. After the promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas, the 24 year old posted a .394 wOBA and an .890 OPS in 309 at-bats. He is a great defensive 3rd baseman but were talking about second base, and a good third baseman doesnt' always mean he could play plus defense at another infield position. Obviously, many will make the Dan Uggla comparisons because Emaus is a power hitting second baseman but Emaus, even at the Major League level wont be as productive as Uggla, especially playing at Citi Field. With all of that said, I wouldn't be surprised to see Emaus get the job. Making the transition to the Majors, even at Citi Field which has similiar dimensions to the home of the 51's, would probably see his home run total rise but his walk numbers decrease and would in my opinion, create at least 10 less runs. Definitely worth a chance in Spring Training though. Murphy on the other hand was an exciting winterball story. Following a season ending injury in '10, the determined "now second baseman" entered winterball knowing that he'd be looked at in Spring Training as a possible everyday 2B for the '11 season, and rightfully so, Murphy played quite well for Aguilas, hitting .320/.395/.515 in a division in which the pitching is probably comparable to good Double-A or scrappy Triple-A play. So if Murphy put up that line facing similar talent that Emaus faced, and lets remember that both fared well, this battle is going to be awesome right? I mean, both had very similar numbers in their respective stints and are new to playing 2B, so this is kind of like gambling with a low-risk high reward type of player. You don't have much to lose by giving either a chance (because of a lineup that should be an above average hitting offense) but this is not by any means saying that either player has much upside. You just don't know what you're going to get.
Then, theres Luis Castillo, who was extremely unproductive in '10 and nothing except his 1.6 WAR or .387 OBP in '09 suggest he'll play much better in '11. The plus of Castillo, is it's much more clear what you're going to get from him rather than the aformentioned young infielders, but thats not to say that Castillo will offer anything more exciting than a 0.6 WAR. I mean, if you're Sandy Alderson, can you really be excited about your everyday second baseman putting up a .40 ISO along with a .285 wOBA? But then again, the plus about Castillo is if you have to pay someone $6MM, you might as well have him play everyday. Although thats not how I see it. I see the Mets as a dark horse to compete for the wild card in the NL. Especially with recent high reward gambles in Chris Capuano, Taylor Bucholz, and what could possibly be Chris Young or Jeff Francis.
Thus, the Mets have a big decision to make. A rookie, a "changed" hitter in Murphy, and an over-the-hill below average player in Luis Castillo. A platoon between Murphy and Emaus could even be in the cards, but then you question your roster because Castillo and Emaus would both be on the roster, neither of which can play shortstop and with Castillo, Emaus, Murphy, Davis, Reyes, and Wright on the Major League roster, theres no backup SS and no room for Chin-Lung Hu or Luis Hernandez, two potential back up shortstops who are expected to compete for the back up job. So we'll have to see what happens. What do you think the Mets should do at 2B?