Spring Training Winners Have Failed in Majors, and Are Paying the Price

In Spring Training, Met fans and writers obsessed over who would win spots on the Opening Day Roster.  We had nothing else to do.  But a quarter of the way through the season, the St. Lucie sunshine feels far, far away.  And the players who scraped out April 1 jobs?  For the most part, they too are now things of the past.

The biggest questions in Spring Training were who would get the second base job (Brad Emaus, Justin Turner, or Daniel Murphy) and which one or two guys would round out the bullpen (Blaine Boyer, D.J. Carrasco, Jason Isringhausen, Manny Acosta, or Pat Misch).

Emaus “won” the second base battle, although his Rule 5 status didn’t hurt.  But after he hit .162 with no extra base hits in 37 ABs, the Mets realized why the Blue Jays let him become a Rule 5 candidate, and on April 19 they sent him back to Toronto.  Three days later, the Rockies acquired Emaus and sent him to AAA Colorado Springs, where he remains.

The real winners?  Turner, who was called up the same day Emaus was released and has hit .318 with 10 RBIs in 44 ABs, and Murphy, who has made 19 starts at 2B and now five straight starts at first since Ike Davis went on the DL.  Now, Turner will get a shot at 3B with David Wright injured, and he and Murphy will most likely be in the starting lineup for at least the next couple weeks.

In the ‘pen, Boyer and Carrasco won the final spots.  But Boyer lasted just 10 days with the big league team, pitching to a 10.80 ERA in five appearances and compiling a 2.100 WHIP.  The Pirates gave him a minor league contract on April 20, and he has been scary-bad for the AAA Indianapolis Indians — 4.0 IP, 11 ER, 24.75 ERA, 4.750 WHIP.  As for Carrasco, he lasted a bit longer than Boyer, but after a few bad relief outings and a start in which he gave up three home runs in 3.2 IP, he was demoted to AAA Buffalo on April 25.

The big bullpen winner, of course, has been Izzy, who stuck around for extended Spring Training, was called up from Brooklyn on April 11, and since then has become the Mets’ eighth inning guy and hasn’t allowed a run in 12 of his 15 appearances.  Misch has also been called up, sent down, and called up again and had two scoreless outings last weekend in Houston.

Elsewhere, Chin-Lung Hu made the team essentially by default as a utility infielder, but he turned out to be one of the worst non-pitching hitters ever to put on a big league uniform (1 for 20, career .176/.225/.259 in 193 ABs) and was outrighted to Buffalo after Monday’s game.  Lucas Duda was also on the Opening Day roster with Bay on the DL, but he was sent down on April 11 and had just a three-day stint in the majors earlier this month.  In 20 ABs, he’s had Hu-esque numbers (two hits).

Now, all that’s left is for Willie Harris and Scott Hairston to get the boot.  They were arguably the Mets’ two best performers in Spring Training — Harris had three homers and walked 12 times to earn a .397 OBP, and Hairston hit four homers with a line of .345/.406/.672.  But when it’s counted?  Harris: .205/.311/.308.  And Hairston: .200/.294/.289.  If Duda returns to full health (back), and if “Captain” Kirk Nieuwenhuis continues to kill the ball for Buffalo, Harris and Hairston could be next to go.

We learn a few things from all this.  One is that Spring Training performance means squat.  (We knew that.)  Another is that it’s a really long season, and Opening Day rosters are fickle, especially for a team with as many question marks as the 2011 Mets.  Evidently, under Sandy Alderson, if you fail to step up on the big-league field, you’re going to lose your big-league job.

Topics: Aaron Leibowitz, Blaine Boyer, Brad Emaus, Buffalo, Captain Kirk, Chin-lung Hu, Colorado Rockies, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, DJ Carrasco, Ike Davis, Jason Bay, Jason Isringhausen, Justin Turner, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda, Mets, Mets 2011 Spring Training, Mets Roster, New York, New York Mets, Pat Misch, Rising Apple, Sandy Alderson, Scott Hairston, Triple A, Willie Harris

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