By Mike Steffanos
I spent some time this weekend trying do something I've done just about every spring since I started this blog -- write some sort of preview of the upcoming season. I finally gave up on it after wasting more time than I care to admit.
Back in years when I thought the Mets had a real chance of contending that type of piece seemed to make more sense. I don't think that's going to happen this year. Realistically, they're probably more likely to achieve 90 losses than 90 wins. While I can imagine a plausible "dream season" scenario where everything goes right and they make the playoffs, I think the odds of that happening are small.
2012 seems very likely to be a season where incremental steps are taken towards a brighter future. Given that, it seems more appropriate to talk about what I'd like to see happen over this course of the upcoming campaign. I'll also write this in installments all week rather than posting one long monster piece.
Okay, so let's get it started. Finger crossed, knocking wood, here's my first wish for the upcoming season.
Full Seasons from Murphy, Duda and Davis
Okay, so I fudged a bit lumping three guys together, but these young position players have a chance to be important cogs in the next great Mets lineup down the road.
Everyone seems to be pretty high on Ike Davis' chances to be an important part of the next great Mets lineup for that future contender. I like Ike as much as the next guy, but I need more than 652 lifetime AB before I'm ready to totally buy into him.
He looked really great last year, but only played in 36 games. I've seen too many Mets over the past four decades look really great out of the gate only to see the league catch up to them. Among other things, Ike has to prove he can hit lefty pitching. Even last year when he streaked out of the gate Ike only managed to hit .163/.260/.233 against southpaws in a small sample size. I think we'll all know better what type of player Ike Davis really is if he can stay on the field all year.
As for Lucas Duda, he obviously possesses an even shorter track record in the bigs. I really like him -- in fact I think he will ultimately put up better numbers than Ike, but he also probably is a bigger risk to flame out. He has a nice approach at the plate in keeping with the improved hitting philosophy in the whole organization.
The biggest question for me about Duda in 2012 is whether he can get his defense to a level where he's not a total liability. If he can continue to hit with power and can get his defense to just a little below average he might prove to be a real find. The only way we'll really know is if Terry Collins can run him out their everyday.
For Daniel Murphy, my hopes are not only for a healthy season but also for one in which he can play second base with regularity. Even if the Mets see Murphy's ultimate future as some sort of super-utility player he would still be much more valuable if he can play second base. It's the only spot on the field where he would provide above average offense for the position.
Terry Collins has already committed to trying to leave Duda in RF to master the position, but has speculated that he might move Murphy to 1B or 3B if Ike Davis or David Wright misses any real time.
That seems short sighted to me. I get that the Mets would be stronger in the field with Murphy at first or third and Justin Turner at second, but in a season where they are longshots to even contend I just think it would be more valuable to finally determine if Murphy can learn to be competent at second base. The only way to really find out is to run him out there every day.
If it turns out Murphy is not capable of playing second, that's fine. The one thing that wouldn't be acceptable at all is if we're sitting here a year down the road still wondering if he can do it. There's no reason at all not to answer that question definitively this season.
Back with part two mañana.