At the beginning of the spring, the Mets claimed that first base was going to be open for competition. Of course we knew this was not true as Murphy was the only serious first baseman on the roster. Names like Mike Jacobs, Ike Davis and Chris Carter were afterthoughts. In fact, in order to give the Mets an alternative option at the bag and more flexibility the Mets re-signed Fernando Tatis. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that the position would be manned by Murphy and Tatis.
But wait? Should this be the case?
I have for a long time advocated for Daniel Murphy and I still will not back down on my belief that he is the starting first baseman. His spring numbers have not helped me, but I still have faith.
Year in and year out we hear the mantra that spring training numbers don't really mean much. I believe that sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Therefore I get to be selective in which players stats matter to me and which don't. I identify this because it is a potential weakness in my analysis; this is just the way I choose to do things.
So again, I reiterate, Daniel Murphy's numbers have not looked good this spring and by all measures if there were an open competition he would be losing it. I honestly won't put too much stock into these numbers. He is tinkering with a brand new up-right stance and getting adjusted to that. He is an educated hitter and even if he starts the season a little cold, I believe he will hit (.277/.336/.475 ish).
However, if the fan's calls for change at the position were not enough, the other first basemen in camp have the fans clamoring for a true competition. It is here that demonstrates the relative successes and failures of the Mets as a team.
It was probably a bad idea to sign Fernando Tatis. His spring numbers are awful, he led the team in hitting -- into double plays last season, he is aging and I believe an unwise investment to make for 2010. Mike Jacobs on the other hand was a good idea, as he was a low risk, high reward signing. I believe that he could be a decent bench player but I don't believe that he really deserves to make this team.
So now, Ill discuss the final two candidates. One name that fans have come to know very well, and the other not so much.
1) Ike Davis. The scorching hot 23 year old has truly let the world know that he is a legitimate prospect. He has power, and he can get his fair share of hits. Further, despite his string of errors, he is very good with the glove. Thats the good news, the bad news is he is not ready for the majors yet. Remember, he is facing younger minor leaguers and pitchers shaking off the rust. He will need to hone his abilities to hit lefties and identify breaking pitches. Davis is the answer, just not yet.
2) Chris Carter. The 26 year old Carter is my choice to make the team as the backup first baseman. Okay, first, I am aware that he has been called "positionless." However, I haven't seen enough to really know; though I am not discouraged, first base is his best position (as opposed to the OF) and he is probably right around average at the first corner bag. However, all this kid does is hit. He is hitting HARD this spring and sports a .305 career batting avg in the minors, spending PLENTY of time in AAA. He has a short swing and is not an aging old man like Tatis, he isnt trigger happy like Jacobs and he is more polished right now than Davis is. Further, if Murphy falls flat I believe that Carter can hit in his place and provide capable offense until the chosen one is ready.