Terry Collins listed Daniel Murphy as one of the four "legitimate guys" who might man second base next season. Brad Emaus, Justin Turner and Luis Castillo were also named, while Ruben Tejada was notably omitted. Murphy is mentioned by most as a strong bet to make the team in some capacity. Many AAOPs featured him on the bench. Matt Cerrone of blog.com has long envisioned Murph as player in the Ty Wigginton mold, as you can read here, here, here, here and here. It's early for Spring Training-esque rosterbation but there is enough information available to at least broach the subject of Murphy's place in the organization in 2011. My quick take: he shouldn't be on the Opening Day roster.
If Collins is to be taken at his word, and is speaking with the front office's blessing, the Mets are serious about Murphy playing second base. Assuming this is the case, Murphy should start next season at Triple-A Buffalo continuing to learn the position. His stint there ended abruptly last June, when the coward Leonard Davis took him out breaking up a double play. It was a dirty slide -- "I've played 11 years professionally and it's one of the dirtiest slides I've ever seen", sayeth Andy Green -- and Murph was unlucky to sustain the brutal injury. Dirty slide, clean slide -- Murphy still needs to log more time playing the position at full speed, with baserunners sliding into the bag guns-blazing. Game experience is necessary, and a few Dominican Winter League games are not enough. Especially if he is expected to play full-time or as part of a platoon.
Should Murphy prove himself capable with the glove in the minors, the Mets might have a credible solution to the second base problem. The other internal options at the higher levels are none too promising right now. Reese Havens can't stay on the field. Tejada looks like a backup. Depending on the respective performances of Turner and Emaus this season, a Murphy/[insert player] platoon could be a viable option going forward. If Murph is a second base catastrophe, there's really no harm done and at least an attempt was made.
Who should start the season at second base? Gun to my head, I'd pick Turner right now and trust that the Mets find a solid backup who can also play shortstop. Hopefully it's someone better than Luis Hernandez or Chin-lung Hu but chances of that are looking slim. Maybe the front office believes Turner can play shortstop but he has limited experience there. Oh, and Castillo should be dropped before Opening Day, regardless of Murphy's handling.
Abandoning Murphy's second base experiment would be a minor mistake. But if that's the decision, then his presence on the roster as a four corners bench player makes sense. An OPS around .770 is terrific for a reserve, even one who fills in at non-premium positions. Plus he is inexpensive, meaning the Mets won't be wasting $2 million, Alex Cora/Marlon Anderson style. Throw in Ronny Paulino, Nick Evans, another outfielder (Fred Lewis?) and someone capable of playing shortstop and that's the makings of a respectable bench.