Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Current Roster Fits Into 2010: Infielders

Here's day one of a multi-part segment I'll be doing outlining how each current Mets fits into the plans for next year. First up: infielders.

1B: Daniel Murphy - For all the talk about Murphy's struggles in the plate, it's actually his bat that should draw the most questions this offseason. Murph has settled in nicely at first. His UZR/150 games is 2.0, while it was a dreadful -6.3 in left field. With the bat, however, Murphy has been been awful. Unless he shows dramatic improvement at the plate, he should start learning how to field other positions, because his bat more closely resembles that of a utility player, not a first baseman.

2B: Luis Castillo - Castillo has been good with the bat, but his range has become non-existent at second. With Omar Minaya regrettably getting a vote of confidence from the Wilpons, Castillo seems like a lock to be around next year. He is a perfect #2 hitter, with great bat control and solid bunting ability. The offense will benefit from his return, but ground ball pitchers like Mike Pelfrey should prepare for another year of embarrassingly bad infield play at second.

3B: David Wright - Wright is the face of the franchise. He'll be back next season and hopefully back to his old ways with the bat.

SS: Jose Reyes - There have been rumblings suggesting Reyes be moved, but that seems incredibly unlikely. Jose's trade value is at an all time low, with questions about his health and desire popping up. He's going to the Mets starting shortstop in 2010. I stake my reputation on it.

C: Brian Schneider - Schneid is a decent fielder with good plate discipline, but he might just be the worst hitter in the Mets lineup, and that is really saying something this year. His future with the team could depend upon Josh Thole's performance, assuming he is called up when rosters expand in September. Worst case scenario, I see him back for 1 year at a greatly reduced salary.

1B: Carlos Delgado - Delgado's longstanding injury has made it difficult to predict his future with the team. In any case, the Mets will buy out his 2010 option (if they pick up his $16mm option, this will be a Colorado Rockies blog next year). I believe they'll offer him arbitration, but who really knows. Delgado is still a type-A free agent, so the Mets will receive 2 draft picks if they offer arbitration and he signs elsewhere. Delgado could also accept the one year offer and make a pretty formidable platoon with the right-handed Nick Evans, but then Omar's dream of having Daniel Murphy magically transform into John Olerud would be dashed. I have a hunch Delgado will be finding a new team this offseason, most likely an AL team where he can DH and rest his aging joints. Then again, the current front office regime has been prone to severe lapses in judgment. Call it a 50-50 shot.

Utility: Fernando Tatis - Fernando "6-4-3" Tatis has faceplanted this year after a delightfully surprising resurgence last year. The Mets were hoping he could platoon with Murphy in LF, but as we can see now, that plan was just a little flawed. That said, Tatis is still a decent hitter and can play every infield position and corner outfield (he's about average at first, and mediocre or bad everywhere else), and he could benefit from lowered expectations. I wouldn't be sad to see him go, but he's still a fairly valuable utility guy who I would welcome back at the right price.

SS / 2B: Anderson Hernandez - A-Hern is a bad hitter and an average fielder with so-so speed and plate discipline. He's a jack of 2 trades, master of none. If he's on the Mets opening day roster in 2010, something went horribly wrong.

SS / 2B: Alex Cora - Despite his struggles, I like Alex Cora. He's a good contact hitter with a short stroke and a good eye. He's a good bunter, a renowned clubhouse presence, and aside from his ridiculously bad range, a halfway decent fielder. When you thrust a guy like Cora into the starting lineup every day and expect him to replace Jose Reyes, trouble is sure to follow. As a backup, however, he's as good as they get. I think he'll be back in Flushing next year at a modestly reduced salary.

SS: Wilson Valdez -
Adequate glove, but Valdez is 31 and couldn't hit a beach ball with a cricket bat. I've seen better hitters in the Little League World Series. Valdez is so bad I think he dreams of being Angel Berroa. Under no circumstances should Wilson Valdez be a New York Met next year.

C: Omir Santos - A gritty guy who has come up clutch a few times this year, Omir has become somewhat of a fan favorite. Not a fan favorite like Mike Piazza or David Wright, but more of a lovable loser kind of fan favorite, like Todd Pratt or Tsuyoshi Shinjo. I expect he'll be back next year, and I pray to the heavens every night that it's as a backup.

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