One of the issues the Mets are facing as opening day draws closer is what to do about first base. This spring, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda were supposed to get a lot of at-bats, as they battled to be the left-handed part of a platoon with Josh Satin. Both Davis and Duda have missed almost all of the Grapefruit League schedule with injuries, and the Mets are no closer to a resolution now than they were on the day position players reported to camp.
Feb 26, 2014; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy (28) poses during media day at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Both Davis and Duda have not lived up to their expectations. Davis hit just .205 last season with 9 home runs. The Mets had hoped that he could be a 30+ home run hitter. Duda hit .223 with 15 home runs in 2013, and remarkably drove in just 33 runs. Duda seemed passive at the plate, missing opportunity after opportunity to drive in runs.
I’m not someone who advocates playing guys out of position. I listen to sports radio, and hear the callers suggest that David Wright move to first base, that Josh Satin get time in the outfield, and that Eric Young Junior be given a chance at shortstop. However, the more I see what’s happening, the more I think Daniel Murphy may make the most sense as the team’s first baseman. He does not profile as a prototypical first baseman, in that he does not provide much power, but moving Murphy to first may make sense and solve a few problems.
First, Murphy has played a significant number of games at first, so the position is not new to him. Next, settling on Murphy as the first baseman would enable the Mets to divest of both Davis and Duda (saving $5 million). Instead of waiting for Davis or Duda to someday reach their potential, the Mets could go forward with a known quantity at first.
Then there’s the question of how to back fill Murphy at second base. Terry Collins wants Eric Young Junior in the lineup as the leadoff hitter. Young could play second base and bat first, providing his speed to the lineup. Alternatively, the Mets could give Wilmer Flores a chance at second, and get his developing bat in the lineup. Defense? Murphy had a -4.9 UZR in 2013, so either Young or Flores would not be a significant defensive downgrade.
In essence, with Davis and Duda, the Mets may be waiting for something that may never come. Moving Murphy to first would provide stability at that position, while opening a spot to create opportunities for other players at second base, who may be able to bring more (of a different type of) offense than Davis or Duda. This is just a thought, because I think we’ve waited long enough for Ike Davis or Lucas Duda to emerge as half of the first base platoon.