This Spring Training, the Mets had their own version of a popular reality show. It was called, “So You Think You Can Play Second Base?” The contestants were Luis Castillo, Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy, Chin-Lung Hu, Ruben Tejada and Justin Turner. Emaus, a favorite of J.P. Ricciardi, won the job after a rather unimpressive spring. His even less impressive regular season (that consisted of 14 games and 37 at-bats) was enough to convince Mets brass to take a mulligan, and reconsider second base. Emaus, a Rule 5 draft pick, was boxed up and returned to Toronto.
Since then, Murphy, Hu, Tejada, Turner, Willie Harris, and even Scott Hairston have all played second base. And today, five months removed from Opening Day, second base is still a toss-up. The endless march of second baseman has been necessitated mostly by injury. While Emaus and Hu were “voted off” due to poor performance, Murphy had to move to first base when Ike Davis went on the DL, then Turner had to play third base when David Wright went on the DL, then Tejada had to move to short when Reyes went on the DL, then Hairston had to play second base when everyone else went on the DL.
From now until the end of the season, Terry Collins plans to alternate Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada based on “feel.” Tejada will also be used to spell Jose Reyes at SS the rest of the way. As a result, it looks like “So You Think You Can Play Second Base?” has been picked up for another season. It will air in March. Here are some of the rumored contestants.
- Daniel Murphy – Murphy can hit. He can really hit. Boy, can he hit. Yup, he can sure hit. Sooo, about the rest of his game… The Mets would love to have a guy who hit .320 this year (before HIS trip to the DL) in their lineup every day in 2012. But Murphy is arguably a bat without a position. The Mets will hope that getting some repetition at one position will make him a respectable second baseman. Improved defense would make him the front-runner, even if he does run the bases like he’s charging Longshanks’s army with his face painted blue.
- Ruben Tejada – The team is impressed with this kid. He plays solid defense, and has shown great improvement at the dish. If Jose Reyes leaves via free agency this winter, Tejada will likely be the shortstop. If Reyes stays, Tejada has a great chance to take the 2B job.
- Justin Turner – The Swinging Tomato burst onto the scene this year, knocking in 20 runs in 83 at-bats in May. But nagging injuries and the fatigue of his first full Major League season have taken their toll on Turner. He’s hitting only .237 since the All-Star Break, which has led to whispers that he is better suited for a utility role.
- Reese Havens – The 2008 first-round draft pick has come back strong from injury, putting up a .298/.380/.468 line at AA Binghamton. He could steal the show in Spring Training. He’s a player the Mets feel can produce, as long as he stays healthy. Incidentally, the Mets feel the same way about everyone else in their organization.
- Jordany Valdespin – Valdespin showed prowess with his glove during Spring Training, but has shown surprising power in the minors this year, playing SS. He has 17 HR and 60 RBI between AA and AAA. He’s a dark horse at the moment, but could make some noise next spring. Paul DePodesta said Valdespin is “absolutely a viable major league shortstop.”
Those are your contestants for the elusive second baseman of the near future. And maybe a mystery contestant will come out of nowhere during the offseason…but probably not.