It's gone on for weeks now. What was a four-man competition that was supposed to be cut down by March 14 has now swelled to five men and is no closer to a conclusion.
Mets manager Terry Collins trots a different second baseman out every game, gives him two or three at-bats and then replaces him with another candidate for one or two at-bats.
On and on we go, and where it stops, nobody knows—not even Collins himself.
Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner and, of course, Luis Castillo, have all been under consideration for the Mets' second-base job since the start of spring training, and you can add Luis Hernandez to that list as well.
Recent reports have Hernandez as the front runner to win the job, although his name has only just now floated to the surface of the toilet that has been second base. Depending on which newspaper or website you read, Hernandez may only have an outside chance.
Regardless, Collins had said this was all supposed to be resolved three days ago, but since no one has broken away from the pack, it remains an open competition.
Speaking of competition: Oliver Perez, who is no competition for anyone, continues to circle the drain, as does Castillo.
General manager Sandy Alderson was asked recently about the attention the media and, more specifically, the fans have given to Perez and Castillo.
"It's a little odd," Alderson said. "I think it does distract one from taking a look at this team as a whole and having a little more balanced view of this team as a whole...I think there has been a lot of focus on second base, maybe to the exclusion of some other things. I wouldn't say there's anything else you should be watching, [maybe] something else you might write about."
You know what would be nice to write about, Mr. Alderson? A winner of the second base competition. Or maybe even a decision on Castillo and Perez, who continue to be given a chance to make this team despite every indication that they'll be released.
Perez, who entered camp pleading with Collins for a chance to win a spot in the starting rotation, made two starts, going 1-1, and currently sports a 7.88 ERA and has issued six walks in just eight innings.
Perez now has his name on a very long list of guys competing for a spot in the bullpen. Collins has already tabbed lefty Tim Byrdak as a "lock" for the pen, and there's no real reason for the Mets to carry two left-handed relievers.
On the other side of the coin, Castillo seems to be holding his own in the second base competition, despite numerous and frankly obvious reasons why he should be released. If he is finally, and mercifully, released, it could come as soon as the end of this week.
In 11 games, Castillo is batting .285 with two RBI and four runs scored.
Who should start at second base?
Defensively, Castillo has committed one error in 45 innings at second base, but his range continues to be an issue. Although Collins has said he views second base as an offensive position (think Dan Uggla), that doesn't boost Castillo's candidacy.
So despite no need for Perez and far superior options to Castillo, both continue to compete for spots on this team. As long as this process continues to get dragged out, much to Alderson's dismay, it will continue to be picked apart and criticized.
The fans certainly aren't staying silent, something Alderson finds surprising.
"It's human nature," he said. "There is interest in those two players in our fanbase. ... They are among the most debated players."
No, Sandy. They are the most debated players.
Because of what they represent, $60 million wasted under the Omar Minaya regime, their inclusion on the Opening Day roster will be met with public outcry, and rightfully so. What was going to be a difficult task of getting fans into Citi Field would be almost impossible.
Knowing the standpoint of the fanbase, Alderson said that public perception, though a factor, would not supersede performance.
"We have to deal with reality, and sometimes those perceptions have to be taken into account," Alderson said.
What should the Mets do with Oliver Perez?
Well, luckily, the reality is that the performances of Perez and Castillo don't warrant their inclusion on the 25-man roster when the Mets break camp in a little more than two weeks. Since past performance is perhaps an even larger factor than spring training, it should make deciding what to do with them all the easier.
The time has come to make a decision—a decision that, according to Alderson, rests with him in the end. He'll get input from Collins and the coaches and scouts, but he'll make the final call.
New York is a big city—the biggest city, in fact. That's a lot of voices, almost all of them calling for the same thing: the release of Perez and Castillo and an end to the constant questioning and debate.
Don't like the constant talk, Mr. Alderson? Want it to end?
Then make a decision, one way or the other—though I think you know which way to go.