I wrote a bit about the Mets’ second-base situation yesterday, and the more I think about it, the more I am intrigued by the possibility of a Daniel Murphy-Justin Turner platoon.
Offensively, the pair would likely represent a pretty massive upgrade over the woeful .226/.307/.285 production the Mets got from their second basemen in 2010 (although, really, who wouldn’t?). Bill James projects a .281/.339/.455 line for Murphy in 2011, which seems reasonable given his .275/.331/.437 career mark, and which would place him among the better-hitting second basemen in the Majors.
While I can’t find any 2011 projections for Turner, Dan Szymborski translated his impressive performance in Triple-A in 2010 to a .288/.340/.434 Major League mark — though since Turner’s 2010 was his best season so far offensively, that line is probably a bit optimistic for 2011.
Still, Turner mashed lefties in a small sample in Triple-A last year, and Murphy hits better against right-handers, as left-handed hitters often do. Combined, they appear apt to offensively outperform any available free-agent middle infielder.
The question, of course, is their defense. Murphy is playing second base every day in the Dominican Winter League, though I haven’t heard any reports about how that’s actually going for him. For all Murph’s calamities in left field, he appeared to the eye and to the stats (in an inadequate sample size) to be a pretty good and even particularly rangy defender at first base.
How that translates to the more difficult position remains to be seen (or perhaps has been seen, but by people other than me who haven’t reported it).
There’s no real good way to know from a desk in Manhattan whether Murphy (or Turner, for that matter) can capably field second base at the Major League level, or if their deficiencies there would cost the Mets more runs than their bats would produce. The decision has to come down to a scouting assessment.
The three pitchers set for the Mets’ 2010 rotation — Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey — all accrue a decent-to-heavy number of ground balls, so the defense behind them is pretty important.
But if the Mets feel Murphy and Turner are up to the challenge, the pair could provide a nice, inexpensive solution with offensive upside, instantly improving the team at the keystone and buying time to determine which — if any — of their prospects at the position deserves the job for the long haul. And since Murphy can play a little first base, third base, and left field if necessary, and Turner has played shortstop and third in the Minors, they don’t handicap the team’s flexibility when they’re on the bench.