New York Mets: In Breaking Down the Infield, Second Base Is Biggest Question

Sammy Makki@sammymetsfanAnalyst IJanuary 20, 2011

Breaking Down The Mets Infield: Second Base Is Biggest Question Mark

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    With about six weeks remaining until spring training begins, it's time to start looking at how the 2011 Mets roster will shape up.

    The Mets didn't really make any big moves this offseason, however, they brought some veterans in to help out in different places.

    Let's take a look at the infield the Mets will have to start the season. Depending on whether or not the team is competing, any of these guys could always be traded at the deadline in somewhat of a rebuilding season.

    But right now, it's pretty clear who three of the four infielders will be. Who will be the second baseman? Now, that's the biggest question perhaps on the entire roster. Here's a breakdown of the Mets infield.

First Base: Ike Davis

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    Ike Davis     Age: 24     Years: 1

    Ike Davis will enter his second season as the Mets first baseman, and it'll be his first full season. He came up April 19 of last season and had some fine moments in his rookie season. He hit 19 home runs, some of them towering shots, and impressed with his glove.

    There's no question that he'll be the opening day first baseman, but there is some stuff he has to improve at.

    He didn't show a whole lot of patience at the plate, going after way too many pitches high and inside. As a result, he only drew 72 walks and struck out 138 times.

    The positives are, he did put up great numbers for a rookie season, and you can expect him to hit more home runs and drive in more runs with Jason Bay back in the lineup along with a hopefully healthy Carlos Beltran.

    This is a big season for Davis. The Mets will have a ton of money coming off the books at season's end, and he'll want to prove the Mets have their first baseman for the next decade.

    Projected numbers:  280 AVG, 26 HR, 102 RBI

Second Base: Luis Castillo/Daniel Murphy

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    Second base is by far the biggest question mark perhaps on the entire roster entering this season. There are some other issues, such as replacing Johan Santana to begin the year as a starter or the bullpen, but this position is very important for a team.

    It looks like there will be two guys battling it out in the spring for the job. Those guys are Luis Castillo and Daniel Murphy.

    Do you remember Daniel Murphy? The guy who came up in the middle of 2008 and looked like the next coming of Pete Rose or Don Mattingly?

    Well, after not panning out in the outfield and playing an average first base in 2009, he missed all of 2010 with some injuries. He got hurt towards the end of spring training and suffered a MCL tear in a minor league game during the season, thanks to a nasty slide by an opposing player while Murphy was playing second base.

    The Mets are hoping to get him at-bats in some capacity this season and he could impress enough in March to win the second base job.

    Luis Castillo, meanwhile, has to "earn" a spot on the roster according to Mets GM Sandy Alderson. He's battled foot and knee injuries lately and is nothing more than a slap hitter with an average glove.

    If it's Castillo, expect a lot of singles and some costly errors. If it's Murphy, expect a pure hitter with some pop. Other candidates are Ruben Tejada, Luis Hernandez, Justin Turner, and Brad Emaus.

Shortstop: Jose Reyes

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    Jose Reyes     Age: 27     Years: 8

    After plenty of speculation on whether or not Jose Reyes would be traded this offseason, he's still the Mets shortstop. For how much longer? No one knows.

    This is Reyes' walk year as it's the final year of his contract. Usually, players tend to perform to a higher level knowing they have a big pay day coming up.

    The problem is: Can Reyes play in enough games to prove himself? He's been injury prone over the last two seasons after four straight 100 percent healthy seasons. Last season, it started off as a health issue in the spring. Reyes was diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid. He then had nagging oblique injuries that took him out of games in the summer.

    But when he played, he performed for the most part. He was juggled around between leadoff and third in the batting order early on, and produced 11 home runs and 54 runs batted in. Those are basically Reyes-type numbers compared to his career stats. He also stole 30 bases and new manager Terry Collins would like to see him get back to around 50 this season.

    Will he be traded at the deadline or become a free agent at season's end? That's the interesting part of Reyes' upcoming campaign.

    Projected numbers:  280 AVG, 12 HR, 65 RBI, 105 runs scored

Third Base: David Wright

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    David Wright     Age: 28     Years: 7

    Perhaps not to the extent of Reyes, but David Wright's name was thrown around the trade talk this winter as well. He's the Mets most consistent hitter every season—except for 2009—and rarely gets injured.

    He impressed last season by putting together a huge turnaround from 2009, the first year at Citi Field. For the first full season of his career, he failed to bat .300, but he did see a return in power. He hit 29 home runs and drove in 103 runs for a team with a losing record and plenty of kids in the lineup.

    There won't be any injury concerns or productivity concerns for Wright. He'll hit for power, steal some bases, make the flashy plays with his glove at times and grind it out through the hot days of summer.

    Unlike Davis at first who's just developing, and Reyes at shortstop who isn't the complete player we thought he'd be, Wright always does what he has to do.

    Now, entering his prime having turned 28, the Mets will hopefully start building a solid team around him so that his production doesn't go to waste. Or, was 2006 the best year he'll ever spend as a Met?

    Projected numbers305 AVG, 28 HR, 112 RBI

Catcher: Josh Thole

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    Josh Thole     Age: 24     Years: 1

    Josh Thole made his Major League debut towards the end of 2009 and made his 2010 season debut in June. For the past couple of seasons, the Mets have had high hopes for Thole and are hoping he could be their catcher for years to come.

    The Mets haven't had a solid catcher since Paul Lo Duca and there's reason to believe Thole could do well at the big league level. He's certainly shown signs at the plate and last season, he improved his skills behind the plate.

    The most impressive at-bat of Thole's very young career came on July 3 of last season. In a game against the Washington Nationals, Thole drew a 10-pitch walk against phenom Stephen Strasburg that raised some eyebrows.

    After getting ahead in the count 3-1, he fouled off five straight pitches of 100 miles per hour or more before taking ball four. That shows you the discipline and pitch recognition Thole has.

    He can hit some balls to the warning track, but more importantly, he can hit to all fields. As a line drive hitter with some pop and patience at the plate, expect Thole to catch around 120 games this season.

    The Mets did bring in backup catcher Ronny Paulino to be his right-handed hitting complement. If Thole struggles, the playing time will most likely be split in half between the two.

    Projected numbers:  285 AVG, 7 HR, 60 RBI