Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mets Aquire SS Hu, A Look at 2nd Base for the 2011 Mets

By: Clayton Collier

   Alderson has dealt minor league southpaw Michael Antonini to the LA Dodgers in return for second baseman Chin-lung Hu. This move adds yet another middle infielder into the mix for the starting and backup middle infield roles. Obviously, Jose Reyes will be the starting shortstop, barring a trade, but the major question is who will fill the black hole that has become 2nd base for the Mets.

    This move really did not make much sense other than adding some competition for the back-up middle infield job. The move really wasn't a big deal for either team. Michael Antonini had a career 6.29 ERA in Triple-A Buffalo so it is unlikely he will have much, if any, of a role with the big club in 2011.

    Chin-lung Hu, unlike Antonini, has had major league experience. The 26-year old in 96 games over four seasons has had a career .191 batting average. It is not an ideal stat but it is an improvement from a pitcher who has failed to have success in Triple-A. Hu will likely compete with Luis Hernandez for a spot on the bench. Both are out of options so the one who does not get the job will most likely go through waivers. Other possibilities for the bench role will include the likes of Justin Turner and Brad Emaus.

   As for the starting job, it is pretty clear cut that it will be Daniel Murphy or Luis Castillo. But it seems quite apparent that Murphy has the advantage. Murphy is 25 years of age, Castillo is 35. Murphy can hit for power, Castillo in 15 seasons has 28 home runs total. Castillo is booed by fans and a cancer in the clubhouse. Murphy has been open to trying multiple defensive positions and has been a team player for the Mets.

   The Mets have $6 million invested in Castillo this season, and is in the final year of his 4-year $25 million contract. In 2010, Castillo batted .236 over 86 games and his defense now leaves something to be desired. Murphy spent most of 2010 on the disabled list after two leg injuries, one in a minor league rehab game. In the winter leagues this year Murphy was outstanding. In 28 games Murphy hit .320 with four home runs and 22 RBIs. Unless Castillo has an exceptional spring training, he will not be the starting 2nd baseman. If Castillo does not regain his starting role, the Mets will likely eat the $6 million and release him than waste a roster spot.

  The acquisition of Chin-lung Hu has added another man into a slew of candidates for only two mere roster spots on the 2011 club.

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