Monday, December 13, 2010

State of the Team - First Basemen

Next up on the positional analysis is first baseman. At the major league level, the position appears to be Ike Davis' to lose for the time being, after his solid rookie campaign, both at the plate and in the field. While the batting average, at .264, could've been higher, the .351 OBP shows a solid eye at the plate, and the power is definitely there, as he slugged 19 homers and 71 RBI. Davis' glove is a big advantage, as he's probably the most solid first baseman (or, really, only solid first baseman) the Mets have had since John Olerud, or even Keith Hernandez. To Davis' advantage as well is that as a rookie whom the Mets control for a long time and costs little, he's very likely to stay on the roster for the time being. Basically, Davis is a keeper for this. Oh, and this, this and thisAnd for good measure, this too.

Past Davis, though, things aren't so rosy. Daniel Murphy is a strong possibility to make the team as a second baseman, primarily, and would become the primary backup at first, where he played most of 2009. Nick Evans is out of options, so he could very well make the team as a right-handed bat off the bench, who would be able to spell Davis against LHP and can contribute passable defense at first. Evans hit a combined .300/.368/.532 in 145 between AA, AAA and the Majors last year, so he should definitely receive strong consideration in Spring Training. Also, he can play all three outfield positions, which would give the Mets important flexibility.

In the free agent market, it's unlikely that the Mets will pick up a reserve whose primary position is first base. Most of the players available would either not fit what the Mets are looking for in terms of flexibility, or would be someone seeking a starting position and the according salary. The only possibility would be someone like Ryan Garko, who again would provide a right-handed bat off of the bench to spell Davis.

No one in the minor league system really stands out right now as a top prospect. 22-year old Stefan Welch split .256/.325/.395 last fear in St. Lucie, although he hasn't yet shown the power that one would hope to get from a first baseman (only 8 hr in 133 GP). Welch is struggling in his time (which is being spent as a 3B) down playing for the new Australian Baseball League. Alex Sanchez would be just about the only prospect that stimulates any interest. Sanchez played 47 games as a 19-year old in the Gulf Coast League, and split .269/.319/.406. Sanchez is a big kid who's likely to fill out, and if he develops more power, could become a prospect.

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