My Man JT: Give Him A Shot

Greetings, this is my first post. By way of introduction, I just joined up recently and have found the site interesting and entertaining so far. You guys do a good job, and in many ways AA makes me feel amongst mine own (although no offense, but despite my general belief in its relevance I find the gargantuan reliance on sabermetrics a bit tiring at times). I imagine you guys as the kind that also have wives that accurately accuse you of following Gameday on your balckberry (or iPhone if you are not stuck in the stone age like me) under the table in the middle of dinner, and are silently ridiculed by fellow LIRR riders for rocking a Mets camouflage lunch box to work (at least its vinyl and not hard plastic).

Basically, I started coming to this site after running out of available coverage on ESPN New York and local NY newspaper sites to feed my appetite for Mets analysis, which has been larger this year than most others. My love for the 2012 Mets in particular is somewhat related to the topic I would like to discuss here, which is Justin Turner. I did a quick check to see if anyone had made a recent Fanpost on Turner and found nothing, but as I said I am new so please forgive me if this has been significantly discussed in comments or game threads. In short, I would like to see Justin Turner, rather than Ronny Cedeno, as the primary utility infielder off the bench. I write this, of course, with full knowledge of Cedeno's five RBIs yesterday and knowing that will have endeared him to some of you, but in my view that changes nothing.

I have nothing against Ronny Cedeno mind you. However, as a Mets fan, I believe it extremely important to differentiate between us and the Yanks, in ways other than the obvious differences in number of championships and players that mis-spell their name (Andruw?, Jayson?). Yeah, the Yankees will make the playoffs this year, but as has usually been the case over the past few years they are doing so almost exclusively with other city's players (Teixeira, Granderson Ibanez?) and have made their typical couple of deadline acquisitions to fill holes they didn't really have (Suzuki, McGehee). Unlike the 1990's models, the 2011 and 2012 Mets are distinctly different from the poaching Yanks. Guys like Turner are the reason that this year's Mets, and to a certain extent last year's, have kept my rapt attention despite being basically an average team, but with the worst hitting catcher since Morris Buttermaker. I meant Nickeas in case you weren't sure. The Mets may not be a team full of superstars, but for the most part, they belong to us. Not just our first round draft picks (Ike, Harvey), or our less heralded minor leaguers that have made good on their opportunities in the big show (Murphy, Tejada, Beato...just kidding), but also guys like Justin Turner and Mike Baxter. Guys that we didn't draft and nobody expected anything from but who have come through as Mets (and nowhere else).

Baxter comes from nearby me so I have a lot of love for him, but Turner in particular I have liked ever since I first saw him play. He plays every infield position and although he doesn't hit a ton of home runs, he hits line drives and has a knack in the clutch. He had 30 doubles last year in less than 500 plate appearances and he actually hits for better average against right-handed pitching than left-handed pitching (.380/.219, .270/.234 in the last two years). So why is he being inserted as a situational right-handed pinch-hitter? I don't get it.

Ronny Cedeno is a one year merc who has never done anything particularly impressive despite having had significantly more opportunity at the major league level than Turner. Cedeno's career OBP is below .300 (.290), he has equivalent speed to Turner's and his defense this year, which based on last year should have been an improvement over Turner, is worse (-.04 dWAR for Cedeno, -.02 for Turner). Terry always seems to insert Cedeno against lefties and he is hitting them well this year (.333), but historically his righty/lefty splits are not consistent (.232/.333, .258/.220, .246/.291 and .213/.191 over the last fours years).

To me, Turner is a true Met. He seems completely immersed in the clubhouse culture (how many times have you seen Cedeno with a shaving cream pie...or even taking part in such a celebration this year), stepped in for us last year when we really needed him to plug injury gaps and is the only guy on the team that incorporates either team color into his facial hair (as a side note, does anyone else think that he looks like Archie and Big Moose had a kid together?). His twitter account is @redturn2 (awesome). The argument that we need Turner available off the bench as a clutch pinch hitter in big spots seems silly to me considering that Baxter is now back and best used in that role (again, see Turner's career lefty/righty splits making him less useful against lefties than a traditional right-handed bench player).

Look, maybe one could argue that Turner for Cedeno is basically a trade-off. One might also argue that the back-up utility infielder is not an important enough topic to post about. It is important to me, however, and I think it should be to you as well. I believe the organization crapped on Justin a bit when they unnecessarily signed Cedeno, and now Collins is further crapping on him by not getting him at-bats this year. If we aren't going to have a 2006 level team every year, fine. I have found this year's group of young, generally organization-nurtured, hard working and intense players extremely fun to watch (bullpen obviously excluded in its entirety). Regardless of what happens from here until the end of the year I will stay with this group (much to my wife's chagrin once she has to deal with the Jets as well). That being said, I do cringe every time Cedeno starts over Turner. I think that Justin deserves better...he deserves a shot.

Thanks for the great site guys. I hope to stay involved.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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