With less than three weeks before the New York Mets' Opening Day, the battle for second base rages on, and it appears that the two leading candidates emerging are the much maligned Luis Castillo and the resilient, but still learning, Daniel Murphy.
I'll start with Murphy.
It was about as a bad a day as you can have in spring training for Murph. In today's game against the Atlanta Braves at Walt Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, Murphy made two errors that allowed four runs to score and struck out to end a game that the Mets lost 12-0.
Actually, I think it's a good thing for Murphy to get one of those out of his system now, while he still has somewhat of an inside track to the second base job. After all, he is the sexy pick, given the fact that Luis Castillo is still public enemy No. 1 with Mets fans.
Murphy is by far the best hitter amongst the four candidates for the job and still has enough time to recover from his bad game today to make a run at the starting lineup.
Now, for Castillo.
Mets fans would love nothing more than to see him go anywhere, and I do mean anywhere. However, given the state the Mets are in at second base, he could very well make it on the Opening Day roster by default.
Despite his unpopularity with the fans and media, Castillo has one thing that the Mets need and covet—defense. In that regard, he is their best option(despite the infamous drop at Yankee Stadium two years ago).
Yes, his knees are shot, and yes, he is a slap hitter. Unless you're bringing in Dan Uggla (which the Mets failed to do), Castillo could very well get his spot back, plain and simple.
Now, there is a third option to this equation. I would not rule out some sort of platoon, at least to start the season. Castillo is a switch hitter, who will see a lot of lefties, because his “power side” is from the right. That would probably give Murphy a good deal of playing time against the righties.
However, do you bring in Castillo as a late-inning replacement? Or do you start Castillo, bring in Murphy as a pinch hitter, then keep him in the game, risking a late game meltdown?
Decisions, decisions. This is not the only decision the Mets will have to make before April 1. However, if not handled properly, it could be one of their most costly ones—both in the wallet and on the field.
That's the last thing the Mets need.