When the New York Mets take the field for the first time in 2011, the one face fans don't want to see is that of Luis Castillo. Castillo has been a black eye at second base since the Mets signed him to a four-year, $25 million deal in 2007.
He is due $6 million next season, so it's hard to imagine the Mets would let him ride the bench all season and take up that money. The Mets could eat the contract, which is what the fans probably want, but that's not the most financially responsible decision. If they're going to spend that $6 million anyway, why not at least try to get something out of Castillo?
But GM Sandy Alderson said on Tuesday that there is a new name in the hat for second base—Daniel Murphy.
You remember Daniel Murphy, right?
He spent time at both first base and left field during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Before the start of the 2010 season, Murphy was slated to be the Mets' Opening Day first baseman, but he injured his knee in a Spring Training game and after some unsuccessful experiments (remember Mike Jacobs?), the Mets eventually called up Ike Davis, and the rest is history.
Davis has now firmly entrenched himself at first base and the fans love him. Murphy needed a new home, so the Mets are trying to turn him into a second baseman.
Then on June 2, while playing second base for the Mets' Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, Murphy tore his MCL while trying to turn a double play. Though he didn't require surgery, he was forced to miss 4-6 months.
Murphy is fully recovered from the injury now and is getting a lot of time at second base playing Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic—and he's tearing it up.
Murphy is currently hitting .320 with four home runs and 22 RBIs in 103 at-bats.
Without a doubt, Murphy will be competing for the second base job come Spring Training. The only question is whether he'll have to beat out Castillo or Ruben Tejada for the job.
Most likely it's going to be Castillo. Although Tejada was a defensive wizard during his time in the bigs last season, he hit only .213 in 216 at-bats.
If the Mets wanted to have Tejada on the roster as a defensive replacement in late innings for Murphy, that's fine. But then they'd have to decide what to do with Castillo, because they can't carry all three, and Murphy has reportedly taken huge strides to improve his defense.
One scout who watched Murphy in the Dominican Republic said that he was"servicable."
Honestly, I think Mets fans would take a "servicable" Daniel Murphy over Luis Castillo in a heartbeat.
Murphy has a huge advantage due to the fact that the Mets front office is down on Castillo and would love to get rid of him if they could find a team willing to swap bad contracts. Tejada can't hit a lick, and the Mets don't seem to have any plans to sign a second baseman this offseason.
Besides all that, the guy just plain deserves a chance to play. He was a disaster in left field for the Mets, but he went out there every day because they asked him to. When the Mets stuck Ike Davis at first base, Murphy chose to learn a new position, rather than stay a first baseman and pray for a chance.
When the Mets take the field for 2011, look for Daniel Murphy to make an impact—this time a positive impact, and this time, at second base.