While Mets fans dream of Reese Havens and his big bat manning second for the future Mets, or Orlando Hudson aiding the 2011 Mets to playoff berth, My belief is that a platoon of Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner could be just as effective in 2011 as Orlando Hudson, and could make the need for Reese Havens more remote.
First, a couple notes about Orlando Hudson, who seems to be the favorite option around here:
He is 33. He is a switch hitter. He is known for being a consistent 2-3 WAR player who is above average at second base with both the bat and in the field.
Hudson spent 2008 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. According to UZR and Total Zone, he had a career worst defensive season, despite his rock solid offensive production. His UZR was a Castillo-esque -10.0, and his Total Zone was -7, which isn't any more optimistic. He managed to hit for a .358 wOBA, the second highest of his career (2007 was .361), which kept his value relatively high as he hit the free agent market. This offensive value, however, was fueled by a career high .341 BABIP, a number he had yet to produce and will likely never replicate.
Unable to find a team willing to invest in him long term with his age and apparently deteriorating defensive skills, Hudson signed a 1-year deal with the Dodgers. He produced a 2.9 WAR, which was more than double his 2008 number, with significantly improved defense. His offensive numbers weren't as gaudy, hitting for a .342 wOBA, but his defense proved that 2008 was an aberration. His UZR improved to -2.8. His power numbers decreased slightly, and he struck out a bit more often. His walk rate also rose.
Once again unable to find long term commitment, Hudson signed on with the Twins in 2010. At 32, he managed to have a fantastic defensive season. Where Hudson failed to produce was with his bat. Hudson continued his heightened K rate, and his ISO dropped to a career low. He posted a .320. wOBA Still, his defense brought the Twins 3.1 WAR, his second most valuable career season.
If the Mets were to sign Hudson, his low power numbers would likely continue, but his BABIP and K% may improve enough by moving back to the NL to put his wOBA closer to .330, in between his production with the Dodgers and Twins. His defense will likely be closer to 2009 than 2008 or 2010. In essence, a healthy Orlando Hudson should provide the Mets with a ~2.5 WAR at the age of 33, and will likely be relatively cheap at a 1 year $5 million deal.
I think a combo of Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner could provide that type of value at a lower price, and could reap more long term benefits.
Murphy, 26, is a left handed hitter with a career .330 wOBA that he can likely expand upon a bit if he builds on his improvements from 2009. Murphy's 2009 was very similar to Ike Davis's 2010. He began the year hitting very well, struggled miserably in May and June, began to adjust in July and August, and raked in September. What may be seen as alarming is Murphy's 6-1 K-to-BB rate in August and September, but I would expect his walk rate to increase to closer to 6-7% (Which is similar to his overall career MLB numbers as well as his 2007 St. Lucie numbers) as a more reasonable expectation. Based on his recovery appearances in A+ and AAA ball in 2010, it doesn't seem as though his injury has affected his hitting. Would he to return full season I'd expect a .270/.330/.450 line out of him.
This type of offensive production is good, but his defense remains a question. He is not a natural second baseman and would essentially be learning on the fly. However, his defense at second base may be close to league average. He was a scratch defender in the minors at third base, and was very good defensively at first. He is clearly able to man the infield. If he can translate those skills to second base, he should be plenty.
Murphy himself, however, is a bigger question mark than Hudson, and his upside seems to be an average year out of Hudson. He also does poorly against left handed pitchers. This is where Justin Turner helps. Turner, also 26, likely doesn't have the kind of defensive ability to be a full time second baseman, but he is passable enough to get his licks at the position. Turner, however, has struggled in limited MLB time. The silver lining in this, though, is that he hits lefties very very well. With Buffalo in 2010, Turner managed to hit for an .845 OPS against right handers, but he shined for a 1.037 OPS against lefties. Even in his 40 MLB plate appearances, Turner's wOBA against lefties is double that against righties. I don't doubt that as a platoon man, he could hit for a ~.350 wOBA in ~150 PA's vs. left-handed pitchers.
I think a Murphy/Turner platoon overall could provide slightly worse defense but slightly better offense than signing Orlando Hudson, and would be $4 million cheaper. It helps that both are entering their age 26 seasons as well. The upside could be greater, as Murphy and Turner both have very impressive minor league track records. They are controllable, combining for 750 PAs, and they are versatile, both able to play corner infield as well as second. For the Mets long-term and short-term needs, those two make more sense than Hudson.