Season in preview: Second base

It’s pronounced E-miss, not E-moss or E-mouse.

The second basemen in April: Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy, Chin-Lung Hu.

Overview: You might know I was an advocate of the brief and ill-fated Justin Turner Lobby, which ended when the red-headed infielder was officially dispatched to Triple-A earlier this week. Unlike the Rule 5 pick Emaus, Turner could be sent to Buffalo without first being offered to other organizations, so the Mets’ front office opted to keep Emaus around to extend his audition into the season — maximizing organizational depth.

So that’s good.

I’m not sure how Emaus will turn out. There are questions about his defense and his ability to hit outside the Pacific Coast League.

What I know for sure, though, is that he’s not Luis Castillo. He’s not Argenis Reyes or Damion Easley or Luis Hernandez either. He’s a guy that might actually contribute to the Mets’ next contender, an unknown preferable to the known-to-be-bad. Emaus showed great plate discipline in the Minors, always a good sign for a young hitter. He doesn’t look awful at second base in drills and Spring Training games. Maybe he’ll stick around a while.

I keep using that phrase: “The Mets’ next contender.” I should add that I don’t know when that’s coming, but I’m not sure it’s as far off as some people think. I’ve seen columnists — people paid to opine about sports — actually dismiss the Mets’ chances for this year and next. That’s crazy. Have you never seen baseball? I made the mistake of writing off the Padres before last season and it’s not one I’m aiming to repeat. Well-run teams, with or without massive financial resources, can turn things around in a hurry.

I’m not sure how Emaus will turn out because no one is sure how Emaus will turn out. But the decision to make Emaus the starting second baseman to open the season shows that perhaps the Mets are past their perpetual myopia and are now making the right choices to benefit their current and future rosters.

Perhaps this is just fanboy optimism because Sandy Alderson hasn’t yet lost the benefit of the doubt, but I feel confident that if Emaus can’t handle the job, the Mets will keep searching until they find someone who can.

Maybe that’s Murphy, no matter how bad he looks at second to the untrained eye. Maybe it’s Turner or Reese Havens. Maybe it’s some guy in some other organization that we haven’t heard of yet. Who cares, really? The important thing is that it looks like the Mets’ front office now bases its decisions on evidence and foresight.

The second basemen in September: Havens, at least one of the guys currently on the team.

Now there’s some very distinct fanboy optimism. Havens has yet to stay on the field for a full season. Call it a weird gut feeling, or a hope based on his numbers that if he stays healthy he’ll move quickly through the Minors.

How they stack up: Hard to say since Emaus hasn’t played much. I bet — and I’m really going out on a limb here — he’ll be better than Luis Castillo and worse than Chase Utley, whenever he returns. Despite crappy defense, Dan Uggla will still hit enough to be better than anyone the Mets trot out in 2011. New Marlin Omar Infante is likely to regress from his All-Star 2010 campaign. Nationals prospect Danny Espinosa will eventually hit a bit, but he strikes out a lot. I’ll guess the Mets’ second basemen wind up playing fourth best in the division, better than one of Infante or Espinosa but not as well as Utley or Uggla.

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