Building a Bench for 2012
If there’s one thing Mets fans learned this season, it’s that a team can never have enough depth. Considering David Wright, Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, Jason Bay, and Ike Davis have all missed decent chunks of time this season, it was good thing Dan Murphy, Justin Turner, Lucas Duda, and Scott Hairston all stepped-up. Even if the Mets do stay relatively healthy in 2012, they’ll still need a deep bench to make a playoff push.
Justin Turner: Assuming Dan Murphy is given the full-time second base job, Turner will find himself out of a starting job. This isn’t a terrible thing, however. While he’s not very handy with the glove (-6.8 UZR/150 at 2B and -0.1 UZR/150 at 3B), he is fourth on the Mets with 20 doubles. Turner’s knack for the extra-base hit and being a spark plug in general could add a new dimension to the Mets bench next season.
Lucas Duda: As exhibited by his 10 homeruns in just 157 Triple-A plate appearances this season, Duda has a ton of pop. Assuming Ike Davis resumes first base and the Mets find a more competent right-fielder, Duda will be destined for the bench in 2012. But as a pinch-hitter/spot-starter against right-handed pitching (.275/.341/.467 line against in 2011), the left-handed Duda could become the Mets’ version of [a younger] Matt Stairs. The last thing a right-handed reliever would want to do is face the hungry 6’4″/255 lb. Lucas Duda.
Ronny Paulino: Paulino has been the perfect compliment to Josh Thole in 2011. The backup catcher has posted a fantastic .304/.337/.387 line overall, and a .317/.368/.413 against lefties. With just 4.1 years of service under his belt, Paulino and his current $1.35 million salary will be under team control going into next season–making him an affordable and good option for backup duties.
Scott Hairston: I will happily “eat crow” by putting Scott Hairston on this list. Despite posting a dismal .231/.310/.346 line through May 27, Hairston has since been a life-saver (.320/.382/.780 line with 6 homeruns, 16 RBI, and 10 runs). In addition to his clutch hitting, Hairston has also posted a very good 3.4 UZR/150 in center-field. Granted, his overall -10.5 UZR/150 in all three outfield positions combined isn’t great, but to his credit, he does own a career 5.5 UZR/150 in the outfield. If the Mets can re-sign Scott Hairston for around $1.1 million again, he’d be a welcome re-addition.
Jerry Hairston Jr.: Just in case one Hairston wasn’t enough, the Mets should look into adding a second. Jerry is the more “utility” brother of the two, being able to play all infield and outfield positions–and quite well at that. So far in 2011, Hairston Jr. owns a 18.2 UZR/150 at second base, 11.7 UZR/150 in left field, 41.7 UZR/150 in right field, and has experience at shortstop (9.8 UZR/150 in 2010 for the Padres). His .267/.339/.385 shows that he can still get on-base a bit, but his real value would be as a super-sub. Even though Willie Harris has played better of late, his horrendous defense and inconsistent offense will make Jerry look like a hero.