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This Second Base Situation Could Get Ugly

Mike SteffanosMonday, March 13, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

One of the emerging stories from spring training seems to be the Mets determination to start the season with Kaz Matsui at second base. For reasons of his own, the only other candidate that Willie Randolph seemed inclined to give a fair shot to was the departed Brett Boone. The fact that Anderson Hernandez is playing a lot of shortstop while Jose Reyes competes in the WBC supposedly is working against him. Jeff Keppinger just can't seem to get even an honest chance to win the job. Maybe the Mets should think about cutting this kid loose and letting him catch on with someone that would give him a real shot.

If the Mets are trying to build Matsui up with what they are doing, in the hopes they could find someone willing to take him off their hands (along with at least some of his salary) I think they're dreaming. He's done nothing this spring to enhance his value, and time is running out. Realistic thinking is needed here. It might be time to take a huge deep breath, swallow hard, and give serious thought to cutting Matsui loose. Chalk it all up to an expensive lesson in overhyping a player that has done nothing in MLB to earn it.

I'm not one that has a big chip on his shoulder about Matsui. I had no problem with an open competition for second base, and if Kaz wins the job legit that's fine. The problem is that Matsui still looks lost both at the plate and in the field. Mets fans aren't going to be patient with him. Even if Matsui was playing really well, he would face a long uphill battle for acceptance with the fans. As it stands now, unless Matsui has a huge turnaround in his level of play over the next couple of weeks, beginning the year with him as the starting second baseman is lunacy.

New York Times: No respect for Keppinger
Pat Borzi reports on the strange saga that Jeff Keppinger is living this spring. He's outplaying Kaz Matsui in what is supposed to be an open competition for the second base job, but manager Willie Randolph has this to say about him:

Keppinger really wasn't in the mix. Keppinger was kind of a long shot, and he's still kind of a long shot, but he's there.

Who can blame Keppinger if he sounds somewhat down on his chances with the Mets:

I had a friend who was watching a telecast, and they put Willie on the headphones during the game, and he pretty much said the same thing. Whatever. I don't know. They don't really say much to me. When they put me in to play, I play. When they send me, I go.

It's not a surprise. I figured that would be kind of the way it would go. That's all right. I get in there, I do what I can, and hopefully somebody takes notice.

Bergen Record: Trachsel's back
Steve Popper reports on Steve Trachsel one year after his back surgery.

Mets.com: The fundamentals
Marty Noble offers a story on the attention to detail the Mets are implementing for the farm hands -- in this case specifically pitching prospects learning to properly cover first. This quote from pitching instructor Rick Waits says it all:

You can't always make the plays perfectly in the game. But you can make sure you practice perfectly. And we are.

Stuff like this can seem small, but it's the kind of thing that separates successful organizations from the pack.

Newsday: Benson misses New York
Mark Herrmann reports on Kris Benson, who is "disappointed" about missing out on the excitement of what the Mets might accomplish this season.

Mets.com: Doing it Wright
Marty Noble talks about David Wright's improving defense at third base.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets
Pro Sports Daily Mets

Comments (7)

Ahh, now you see what I'm getting at. I think keppinger will (again) win the 2B job. But the Mets more than last yr will be inclined to eat Mats contract. Talk was he would go to a Korean or Japanese team. Really he needs to be a SS. I am sure the Mets could pass him off. but Matsui is not helping. He is also a morale buster if he can man that position. I am not buying willies quotes...Kepp may be this yrs DW. NOTE to bloggers; Kepp's getting alot of ABs.

Meanwhile Kepp hits .316!!! He is healthy and playing well enough. Applause also for Ahern playing SS. He could be in a deal, and he is more valuable at SS as coverage in trade etc. I like Basak and Ragsdale gettin looks too. I am still big on Ragsdale who could be a late bloomer.

The Mets need another ML ready starter and Zach Day is not a bad place to look. Although Rockies pitcher are usually messed up (see Thomson, Bobby L. Jones,) Joe Kennedy is also a decent name. Obviously Soler and Maine need alot more seasoning than we hoped. Luckily Bannister doesnt. Jae was awesome for Korea yesterday. Karim Garcia, Jorge Cantu looked silly while Jae kept pounding the outside of the plate with his change up.

Keppinger's no good. I mean his forecasted offensive stats are no better than ... well they're quite similar to ... Willie Randolph.

You know I'm always going to like AH over Keppinger, but if Kepp wins the job he wins it -- case closed. That quote from Willie was just dumb.

I'm not a big Zach Day guy. He only pitches well against the Mets. He walks too many and is hurt a lot. I'm liking Bannister more every time I see him. They should look at him for long relief even if Heilman takes the fifth starter slot. Iriki will probably have the advantage because of his contract, but if he doesn't pitch well they should consider Bannister. This team is probably going to need a sixth starter on the roster, and I don't love Lima or Gonzalez.


Of course dont rule out 'willie-speak'

Translation' Kaz needs ABs to improve his value, AH is gettin hyped because the farm is weak and The A's like him (AH). ' Kepp has options and is not going anywhere and has no leverage...he is a long shot ...which means he is 'a shot'and we are lucky to have a good 2nd baseman.

On the RF 'competition...Nady is hitting 476, Diaz .300. But what about Floyd and Delgado's health?

Funny, Mike. Keppinger really is a throwback to players of Willie's era. The whole situation is weird.

Ed, Willie never should have said that silly statement -- it sends the wrong message to any young guy fighting for a job.

On RF, I could see the Mets giving Floyd a lot of days off, but not sure there is room for Diaz on the roster when Franco and Valentin have guaranteed contracts.

I really like Kepp. I think he reminds of Wiggy too much. But his pedigree is solid. His lowest season average was .284.

Willie is going to lose his job unless he learns fast. Remember 2003 when Jeff Torborg had the Marlins in the race but was STILL fired in fire of Trader Jack. AND the STINK when Jimmy Key was fired in favor of scap-iron Garner in Houston before the all-star break and the Astros then went on a beltran led tear. T

he Mets have saved BIG face in light of the Glavine, Piazza, Vaughn, Bonilla, Appier, Cedeno contracts. eating matsui's is a no brainer. But the Mets need to recognize matsui is a SS!!!! He has value there not at 2nd.

NOTE: The link I gave u says Omar asked for Adam Loewen. Could be why the trade died in Nov.

I'm not anti-Keppinger. As for Willie, that was a real clueless statement on his part. I could see him replaced this year if the Mets struggle.

I saw that about Loewen. That would have been a nice one to grab.

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