Status of Metland: Infield


| jpascullo@queenscourier.com |

Hello again Mets fans, welcome on back! While we all await the National League pennant winner…what? You guys ARE watching the MLB postseason right? Remember Tommy Lasorda’s commercials from a couple years ago? “You’re bigger fans of baseball!” Well anyway, as we await the second World Series participant to emerge, let’s continue to look at the current Status of Metland. Last week we discussed the starting rotation, now let’s discuss our infield.

We’ll go right to left, so first base leads it off. Ike Davis. What started off as an uber-promising sophomore season died prematurely on that infamously bizarre looking injury in Colorado. I’ve never seen something that looked so minor transform into such a lengthy headache. Davis was superb, sporting a .925 OPS prior to the injury. I don’t think it’s possible that the Mets will pursue big free agent fish Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder come wintertime, so let’s be realistic here. Ike will be back in 2012, but from now until spring training every Met fan will be praying for the best when it comes to his recovery. It’s been said that Davis’ ankle may never be the same again. How is this going to impact his play? It’s nice to believe the Mets will be better in 2012 if Ike bounces back from his injury no problem. Only question is whether or not this is something that can actually happen.

Second base during last year’s spring training was a revolving door of tryouts. And during the regular season nothing really changed. Six players started at second base for the Mets in 2011, and the winner of the spring training competition Brad Emaus was given the boot not even three weeks after the season got underway. Justin Turner had an insanely hot stretch in the middle of May to put a solid grasp on the job for a while, but he came back to Earth in a gargantuan way once the summer was upon us. Nothing new here, so once more we ask ourselves who is the next Mets baseman going to be? There’s no clear cut choice coming up in the minor leagues really. Is it Ruben Tejada? He unquestionably impressed everyone with the glove, but his .696 OPS sure does startle me. I can’t say for certain, but it honestly looks as if once again, at least at this point in the game, second base is still an enigma for the New York Mets organization.

Now for the left side of the diamond, and boy do we have some big choices to make here. Our beloved Jose Reyes, is this it? Was his incredible 2010 season, a season that saw him net the organization’s first batting title, his swan song in Flushing? Let’s be honest. Jose is not going to sign with the Mets in that period of exclusive negotiation following the World Series. He’s going to test the free agent market as he should. The Mets, Sandy Alderson in particular, have a lot to weigh when it comes to the contract they’ll be offering Jose. Not only will his offense, defense and speed be taken into consideration – they all kind of speak for themselves do they not? – but how about his impact in the clubhouse? The admiration and adoration the fans have for him? How much money does he desire? How many years? And of course, arguably the most important factor, will Jose be able to remain healthy and durable over the course of his new pact? His two stints on the disabled list in 2010 certainly didn’t help his cause in that department. I’m no GM, so I’m not even going to venture a guess as to what Sandy will offer, nor will I predict what terms would be enough to guarantee Jose’s resigning. But one thing I do know is that injuries aside, Jose is as dynamic a shortstop as you’ll ever find. Talent like him does not come around every day. Who can the Mets replace him with? Ruben Tejada? I’m skeptical, and I for one do wish for Jose Reyes to return to the orange and blue in 2012.

And finally, we have third baseman David Wright. Make no mistake about it folks, Wright is coming off an abysmal year, one that saw him post career lows in batting average, slugging, and OPS. Yes he was injured for a portion of the season after trying to make a diving tag on Astros outfielder Carlos Lee during an April game at Citi. However Wright just totally faded in September too, posting a .210/.295/.360 slash line in his final 26 games on the season. His defense also ranked pretty well below average, and there’s been talk of a future position switch if it continues. However, there’s been even louder talk of him being dealt in time, with the Rockies and Diamondbacks at the top of that list. It’s a tough decision to make. Right now, Wright’s value is probably at an all-time low with his career worst 2011, so I don’t think a deal is plausible at this juncture. Again as with Reyes, who are the Mets going to plug into third base to replace Wright? And just take a look at the rest of the lineup. Who knows what Jason Bay is going to give us in 2012? The same can be said for second base, centerfield, and catcher. We don’t know if Jose Reyes will be back in 2012, nor do we know if Ike Davis can bounce back and be the guy he was prior to the ankle injury. Wright is as close to a sure thing as we have really. One can argue that the back injury really put a crimp in his 2011 season, and for what it’s worth September swoon and all, Wright really was better once activated off the DL (.226/.337/.404 before, .272/.349/.440) I don’t think Wright will be traded this offseason, and because of who he is and what he’s done for the organization over the years both on and off the field, I believe he should be offered a chance to bounce back.