The Post-Wright Choices: Justin Turner and Nick Evans.

Last night, GM Sandy Alderson told the media that the team would 1. outright SS Chin-lung Hu to Buffalo, call up SS Ruben Tejada, 2. activate Pedro Beato from the disabled list and option Ryota Igarashi, and 3. place David Wright on the disabled list Tuesday and recall Nick Evans from Buffalo.

This is all sensible stuff and the best the Mets could do under the circumstances.

 

Bullpen

In the bullpen, it’s not really close.  Beato has been vastly superior with a 10/3 K/BB ratio in 17 innings versus Igarashi’s 15/11 in 11.2 IP.  Also, Igarashi gave up a game-winning single to reliever Burke Badenhop Monday night on a 3-2 pitch after falling behind him 2-0.  That’s not MLB caliber command.

 

Infield

In the middle infield, Hu and his one hit in 2011 just weren’t getting it done.  In 20 AB the 27-year old was 1-for-20 with one walk and 11 strikeouts.  Obviously, 20 AB is a wildly unfair sample in which to judge a player, but Hu consistently looked overmatched.  Maybe he can find some rhythm in Buffalo.  Or maybe he’ll never hit enough to hold even a big league bench job.

 

As for the slick-fielding Tejada, the 21-year old is hitting 267/.337/.407 after 150 AB in 39 games for Buffalo.  He’s in a 6-for-37 slow period in his last ten games since peaking above .300 at .301/.363/.460 following the game on May 6.

 

Tejada will come to the Mets to play second base, something he’s done exactly once in Buffalo.  Many, if not most, MLB second basemen are converted SS.  They all say the conversion is not very difficult, fielding grounders is the same while the throws are shorter.  The difficult part is learning the footwork around the bag on the double-play to keep out of runners’ way and stay safe.  This is important – just ask Daniel Murphy who lost most of last season after a takeout slide at second.

 

However, it’s not like he’s unprepared.  Tejada played 50 games at second in 2010 for the Mets, and 21 in the minors in 2009-2010 and 19 games in the VSL and DSL in 2007.

 

Also, Nick Evans will be summoned to take David Wright’s roster spot when Wright hits the disabled list.  There’s no replacing Wright, and no team in MLB could really absorb this hit.

 

I pretty much said everything I had to say on Nick Evans here, when I argued at the end of spring training that he should be on the roster to pinch-hit and play somewhere, anywhere against lefties.  Nothing in Harris’ punchless .205/.311/.308 performance has made me change my opinion.

 

Evans is hitting .248/.285/.383 in 141 AB in AAA, but that overall line camouflages 1. his persistent platoon split and 2. his dreadful start.  Evans didn’t hit anything in April (.202/.207/.369) in 84 AB over 21 games, but has found his stroke, going .316/.391/.404 in May with three extra-base hits in his last four games.  He’s hit safely in five straight games hitting .450 (9-for-20) with a home run and two doubles.  And as always, Evans has hit lefties with a .293/.311/.488 line against southpaws in 41 AB.

 

The timing is bad for 3B Zach Lutz, who broke a finger at the end of April, while he was out rehabbing a pulled hamstring.  Lutz, who will turn 25 in June, was off to a .308/.400/.513 start in 13 games for Buffalo.

 

Anyway, back to the Mets infield.  With Reyes at short and Tejada at second, the Mets should be strong defensively up the middle.

 

That leaves the left-handed hitting Daniel Murphy, and righties Justin Turner and Nick Evans for the two infield corners.  Fine, we’ll include left-handed hitting Willie Harris, who has already played two games at third, for completeness.

 

Murphy’s going to get the bulk of the starts at first, so it’s down to two inexperience third basemen: Turner and Evans.

 

Turner has not really played all that much third in his life- just 37 games in the minors and eight in the majors total.  Most of that work has been recent.  He played third twice for AAA Buffalo this year and lined up at third 10 times in 2010 and 22 times in the Orioles system in 2009.

 

Here are Evans’ games at 3B by year, level and affiliate:

2005 – R – Kingsport -  21

2008 – AA – Binghamton – 5

2009 – AAA – Buffalo – 1

2010 – AA – Binghamton -12

2010 – AAA – Buffalo – 4

2011 – AAA – Buffalo 10

Total – 53

 

Since the start of the 2009 season, that’s 34 games at third for Turner and 27 for Evans.  That’s just not a lot of reps at the position.  The Mets just have to hope they hit enough to make up for the inevitable defensive fumbles.   And of course that Wright returns quickly.

 

The roster choices will get more complicated when Wright or Ike Davis return.  Will Evans finally show enough to end Willie Harris’ tenure as a Met?

 

Other Internal Options

Lutz is hurt.

Russ Adams who actually leads the Bisons in games played at third this year with 14 was hitting .180/.296/.246 in 23 games before announcing his retirement.

Eric Campbell has played the bulk (25 games) at third for the B-Mets and hit just .217/.336/.296 in one of the more disappointing performances over the first quarter of the 2011 minor league season.

 

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