Feb 25

Mets intrasquad game focus at second

Don’t read too much from the early glowing reports about Ruben Tejada swinging the bat well in Port St. Lucie. Don’t forget, until now it has simply been batting practice. Today, it will be an intrasquad game and then the early days in the exhibition schedule.

Of course, it is better than him not hitting.

The Mets have four second base candidates, with the speculated platoon of Daniel Murphy and Brad Emaus each starting today. Then there is Luis Castillo and Justin Turner, the latter with two options remaining which makes him the odd-man out.

Regarding Tejada, the plans are for him to play shortstop at Triple-A Buffalo. With the Mets having other second base options, that’s important because of the uncertainty regarding Jose Reyes’ future.

If the Mets sign Reyes to an extension, then Tejada could move to second if the others flame out or he could be used in a trade. If Reyes leaves, then it is important to have a ready alternative.

TODAY’S PITCHERS: Josh Stinson and D.J. Carrasco will be the respective starters, followed by: Taylor Tankersley, Mike O’Connor, Manny Alvarez, Tim Byrdak, Ryota Igarashi and Blaine Boyer.

Feb 23

Mets to consider Murphy/Emaus platoon at second

Just because he hustles doesn’t mean Daniel Murphy will win the second base job. There are concerns about his defensive abilities, and while he has shown glimpses of offensive production, it is still a small window.

MURPHY: Competing for second base job.

The Mets like Rule 5 selection Brad Emaus’ potential, and he’ll get a nod over Justin Turner because the latter has remaining options.

The book on Emaus is he has adequate range and power potential as he hit ten homers in 309 at-bats for Toronto’s Triple A affiliate last summer.

Could he and Murphy share the job in a platoon basis? Absolutely.

Also working in Emaus’ favor is his ability to back up David Wright at third. Murphy, of course, can back up Ike Davis at first, so that platoon offers versatility.

Where does that leave Luis Castillo?

The Mets would love to deal him, but aren’t close to drawing any interest. Reports are Castillo could have reported in better shape, and although he didn’t come to camp early because of a family situation, he didn’t tell the Mets what was going on.

Manager Terry Collins said he would have preferred Castillo report early, but said that while not being aware of Castillo’s situation. A little communication would have spared Castillo a dig from his new manager.

Not a good start by Castillo, who has to be flawless to make the team.

I believe the deciding factor at second base is defense. If Murphy/Emaus show they can handle the position, it would go a long way to keeping that platoon over Castillo, whose defense skills are on a decline.

Feb 22

For Beltran, his best move is to right

When Carlos Beltran said at the start of camp he might need a little extra time to see if his arthritic right knee will adjust to the riggers of playing center field – saying he doesn’t want to be “embarrassed,” – he might as well have said the move to right field  should be made sooner rather than later.

BELTRAN: Should make the move now.

I’ve been saying a healthy Beltran playing center could be easier to move at the trade deadline because of his contract, and while that might be true, him playing right field might be in the best interest of future contract. The move to a corner outfield spot will happen eventually, and with Beltran being a free agent after the season, his ability to show he can adjust now will only enhance his chances of landing another multi-year contract.

With the Mets undoubtedly not bringing him back, this year will be an audition for Beltran to prove he can stay healthy and be productive. At 34, any team considering Beltran would need to know if he can play the corner spot, so this year is an opportunity for him to get that question out of the way.

Right field will decrease the wear on his legs, which should help increase his offensive production, and that’s what any team will be looking from Beltran at this stage of his career.

Beltran’s pride might deter him from wanting to move positions, but there will be an even greater hit to his ego – and perhaps his bank account – if he tries and fails. From agent Scott Boras’ perspective, playing right field would prove to be a good business decision.

Feb 21

Collins addresses his team with a basic message

The boys are back in town and manager Terry Collins will have his first team meeting this morning. What’s he gonna say? What can he say?

This is a team with low expectations. This is a team with a myriad of issues and a bleak economic forecast to correct those concerns.

The message isn’t, “do your job and you’ll stay here,” because nobody is assured of anything.

With so much turmoil and uncertainty surrounding these Mets, the message must be, “do your job, play fundamentally sound baseball and hustle, and just be a professional and somebody will want you.”

It can’t be much more than that because this is a team that can’t promise anything, else.

It’s a team where the players’ first goal must be professional survival.

Feb 18

What’s the message from these Mets?

Technically, position players don’t have to be in camp until Saturday, but one would think – and hope – several of the question marks would have bothered to show up early. If David Wright, Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan can do it, so can every body else that doesn’t have a personal issue or visa problem.

In particular, Castillo was annoyed this morning when it came to Luis Castillo, the often-maligned second baseman who ranks highly on Mets’ fans enemies list. Castillo, who is to be paid $6 million for his mediocre production, is still in the Dominican Republic. Manager Terry Collins said it would have sent a symbolic message to the organization had Castillo been in camp earlier.

The same applies to Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay, both who missed a considerable amount of last season to injuries.

Beltran is coming off a knee injury and could be moved to right field. This is his walk year and the Mets will try to move  him by the All-Star break. Both, for his contract and for what he might bring in a trade, it is imperative he gets off to a strong. One or two days shouldn’t make a difference, but with the Mets this year it is all about appearances.

As for Bay, he was having a lousy year before he was sidelined with a concussion. So far, he’s done nothing to justify his $66 million contract. Would it have killed him to show up early?

Wright and Reyes are the leaders of this team and they’ve been here. The others are question marks and will wait until they absolutely have to.

So much for initiative.