Season in preview: Second base

The second basemen in April: Daniel Murphy, Ronny Cedeno, Justin Turner

Overview: There’s not much to say about Daniel Murphy’s move to second base that I didn’t already get at here, but I’ll add that we’re coming up on Opening Day now and Murphy still looks set to start the season at the keystone in Flushing. So despite a few visible hiccups in the field in Grapefruit League games, nothing Murphy has done this spring has convinced Terry Collins and/or the Mets’ front office that it’s time to bail on the project altogether.

And that’s good. There will be more hiccups, no doubt, and more agonizing over Murphy’s defense. But if he can stay out of harm’s way — no small thing, given the way his last two seasons ended — and capably play the balls hit near him, he should at the very least represent an upgrade over Luis Castillo.

Murphy can hit, we know, earning comparisons to Pete Rose from Keith Hernandez within a few weeks of his Major League call-up then working to bear them out with a reasonably Pete Rosey .320/.362/.448 line before his injury in 2011.The batting average could dip a bit, but Murphy is hardly a free-swinger, and Citi Field’s new dimensions should help his power numbers.

If Murphy can play second, the Mets have a nice player to stabilize a key position through at least 2015. If he can’t, it’s back to the drawing board for like the eight millionth time since Edgardo Alfonzo left.

Ronny Cedeno is good at defense but the Mets probably won’t want his bat in the lineup every day if Murphy gets hurt or can’t hack it defensively. That’s why Turner’s around.

The second basemen in September: Murphy, Cedeno.

How they stack up: Extremely hard to tell until we know how Murphy can field and how long Chase Utley’s out. The Braves have Dan Uggla, a good hitter and terrible defender. The Nationals have Danny Espinoza, a decent defender with some power who doesn’t make a lot of contact. The Marlins have Omar Infante, a decent defender who doesn’t hit much. And until Utley gets healthy, the Phillies have Freddy Galvis, a 22-year-old with a stellar defensive reputation and a career .613 Minor League OPS. It’s easy to imagine the Mets having the best or worst second baseman in the division.

 

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