(Hello Really Dirty Mets Fans. When I first got this little writing gig a month or so ago, I was fast-approaching a very intense series of Final Exams. This led to my posting far too infrequently for my taste, but that is all in the past! I have just finished my exams, and the Real Dirty Mets should prepare for a lot more intense sabermetrizing from here on out. Let’s get down to business)
When Sandy Alderson became the Mets’ General Manager, he found an organization with many holes he would need to fill. He also found some bright spots, but not enough to inspire great confidence in immediate playoff success. But one of the organizations’ strengths was our plethora of top-class names. I am of course referring to the likes of The R.A. Dickey, ZeErika McQueen, the weirdest spelling of “Henry” I have ever seen in my life (Jenrry Mejia!), and Jeurys Familia (I won’t even try to pronounce that). And don’t let me forget Captian Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
But Sandy was not going to rest on his laurels. He went out and acquired Boof Bonser to make one of our key areas of depth even stronger. You can check out my article on Boof to see my whole opinion on the signing, if the mood strikes you.
But was Sandy done? No, my dirty friends, he was not. He teamed up with amigo J.P. Ricciardi and brought in an old draftee of the former Blue Jays’ GM. Many of you probably heard of the acquisition after the Winter Meetings, but for those of you who haven’t, meet the delightfully named Brad Emaus.
The Mets had a massive, nearly-Mo-Vaughn-sized hole at the keystone entering the offseason, not only for the immediate future but in the long-run as well. I just don’t think Ruben Tejada will ever hit enough to be a major league starter, and forgive me if I don’t trust in the long term success of Reese Havens, who has been as injury-prone as they come (if he could be healthy he is a great prospect, but it seems unreasonable to predict he could man the position for 162 games, considering he has played in only 152 after three professional seasons).
Justin Turner is an interesting player, as he has never posted an AVG lower than .298 or an OBP lower than .362 in any professional season, but none of his number were particularly great given his relative age (26 as of this writing). He would have to keep his AVG in the .280 range to have positive offensive value, and I just do not trust his ability to hit big league pitchers at that clip. He is a better hitter and worse fielder than Tejada, and he has much less upside than Havens but is much more likely to stay on the field. Together, all their question marks show they should not be considered long-term solutions.
Daniel Murphy could be a decent player, but I see his value being maximized as a super-utility Mark Derosa type (original analysis, yea?), so I would rather let him try to win that first bench spot, where he can pick up 400 or so ABs around the infield and outfield. I’d rather keep his versatility than stick him at a position at which he will almost certainly be below average defensively.
Oh. Did I forget to mention Luis Castillo? Well, I’ve mentioned him now, so let’s move on.
And this is where the Mighty Maus comes into play. After proving himself in AA, Emaus moved up to AAA for 364 plate appearances and put up a triple slash of .298/.395/.495 in 2010. In 534 total PAs last year, he was struck out only 69 times and walked 82 times, and his walk and strikeout numbers have always been very close. Posting well-above-average batting, power, and patience as a 24-year-old infielder in AAA is something to be excited about.
Plate discipline is one of the easiest skills to project from minor league stats, so I really cannot see Emaus having any worse-than-average on-base skills in the big leagues. That OBP cannot plummet that much. And his 50 extra-base hits and 13 steals last year (career 80 percent success rate) show he could provide a little pop and a few bags as well. I think a line around .265/.340/.400 with 5-10 steals is a perfectly reasonable expectation, and if he keeps the power he found last year, that slugging percentage could creep up. But even if it does not, Emaus would still be an above-average hitter with that line. He projects below average defensively at second – somewhere along the lines of -5 to -10 runs over the course of a season I would guess from the scouting reports I have read– but his bat would more than carry his deficiencies in the field. Taking 2 Wins Above Replacement as an average player, I see the Mighty Maus’ producing somewhere between 1.5-2.5 WAR as a rookie, and he would only get better with time. I could see his peak year WARs sitting around 2.5-4.
Emaus is very good in the highly projectable areas (as far as minor-league stats projecting major-league stats goes), and he has no injury concerns. And he is under team control for 6 more seasons – three at the league minimum – so long as he stays on the Mets roster all year. Give me an average to good 24-year-old second baseman for six years at well below market rate, and I will take it every single time.
Emaus, while not a star name in the Blue Jays’ system, consistently placed in the organization’s top-prospect lists, so it is not as though his production or my projections came out of nowhere. He has put up very good numbers wherever he has gone and has never been too old for his league. If I were Sandy, I would hand Emaus the starting second baseman’s job and make it his to lose, perhaps in a platoon with Daniel Murphy. I don’t want a small sample size Spring Training competition to end up with Luis manning the keystone again. His defense and legs are only getting worse.
With Boof and now Emaus, Sandy has acquired promising depth in areas of great need. And the Yankees get to hear John Sterling call Mark Teixeira’s home runs “Tex messages,” so I think it’s only fair the Mets can get their fair share of “E-mails” delivered to the left-field seats.