New York Mets: Terry Collins Chooses a Second Baseman, and It Makes No Sense

James Stewart-Meudt@@JSMeudtCorrespondent IIMarch 15, 2011

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Infielder Luis Hernandez #80 of the New York Mets poses during photo day at Tradition Field on February 27, 2010 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

What has become an everyday soap opera finally has an ending.

The New York Post is reporting that Mets manager Terry Collins has finally made a decision about who will be at second base on Opening Day.

Since the start of spring training, four names have been discussed: Daniel Murphy, Luis Castillo, Justin Turner and Brad Emaus.

You could make a case for any one of those players.

Murphy has the best bat of the four and provides the most power. Castillo is the incumbent, and his $6 million salary could keep him on the roster. Turner is a Mets prospect who batted .333 with 11 home runs at Triple-A Buffalo last season. Emaus was the Mets' Rule 5 pick this year and is a favorite of J.P. Ricciardi.

But in the end, none of that mattered because Collins decided to go with someone no one thought even had a chance—Luis Hernandez.

Yeah, I know. Let that sink in for a second. Luis. Hernandez.

If you're struggling to remember, Luis Hernandez hit .250 in 17 games for the Mets last season. On September 18, he fouled a ball off his right foot, breaking his big toe. He stayed in the game to finish the at-bat against Atlanta's Tim Hudson and hit a home run.

Well, congratulations Mr. Hernandez. I guess that moment was all Collins needed to see, because other than that at-bat, you didn't give him anything else to see. Well, 17 at-bats last season and a whopping 12 at-bats in spring training so far.

In those 12 at-bats, granted, Hernandez is hitting .417, but he has appeared in just six games this spring, fewer than the four players considered for the second base job, and his at-bats are also the fewest.

The Mets signed Hernandez before spring training last year after he was released by the Kansas City Royals. Before being called up in August, Hernandez split time between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo.

His minor league stats are, shall we say, terrible.

In eight years in the minor leagues, Hernandez batted .255 with 17, count 'em, 17 home runs and a .302 OBP.

It doesn't get any better in the majors either. In 265 career at-bats with the Baltimore Orioles, Royals and Mets, Hernandez is a .245 hitter with three home runs and 20 RBI.

Earlier this month, Collins said he valued offense above all else when considering his second baseman, citing Chase Utley and Dan Uggla as examples of his thinking. Yet despite having two guys in consideration who actually have some power, Murphy and Emaus, or even Turner if you believe in his minor league numbers, Collins goes against even what he had said and picks Hernandez.

Castillo could be released by the end of the week, so this all but seals his fate. Turner still has minor-league options, so he'll likely be sent down soon, which leaves Emaus and Murphy to battle it out for a spot on the bench.

Not exactly the scenario most envisioned. I've read dozens of lineup projections for the Mets in the last few weeks, dismissing most simply because it was too early to make predictions. But none of them had Hernandez at second base on Opening Day.

So why would Collins go with someone who was barely considered for the job?

Well, best I can tell, though Collins said offense was important, he didn't like the defense he saw out of the other second base candidates. Castillo has absolutely zero range, Emaus is better known for his bat than his glove and Murphy is only just learning second base, his third position in as many years.

So Hernandez is the best second baseman in camp defensively. However, he's appeared in just 27 games at second base in three years in the majors, posting a perfect fielding percentage, which is great and all, but it's only 27 games.

He's also a switch hitter, which would give Collins some flexibility at the bottom of the batting order, splitting up the lefties of Ike Davis and Josh Thole without costing him a bat off the bench late in games.

So he's good defensively—in 27 games—and he's a switch hitter. That's the best I can come up with for Hernandez. 

There could be a slight snag in Collins' plan, however. The front office, specifically J.P. Ricciardi, is very high on Emaus, who must be carried on the 25-man roster the entire season or be offered back to the Blue Jays. If Ricciardi insists that Emaus be kept, Collins would have to choose between Hernandez and Murphy for the final roster spot.

Since it's no secret the Mets love Murphy, Collins may be forced to go with someone other than Hernandez, which, let's face it, wouldn't be a bad thing.

If you're totally against Collins' choice, there is one piece of interesting news—neither ESPN nor has picked up this story yet, so perhaps, like so many other spring training reports, it's not true.

God willing.

Ousting Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel was the second best decision the Mets made this offseason, right after replacing them with Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins. But faced with the fist big decision of their Mets careers, they give the fans—Luis Hernandez?

Gimme a break. If this is a sign of things to come, along with all the other signs of things to come we've been given so far, this is going to be a long season for the Mets.

But then again, we already knew that.


Update: Adam Rubin of says the he spoke to Terry Collins, who told him, "Unless you hear it from me, don't take it as gospel," referring to Hernandez being announced as the second baseman.