The one-time fuzzy New York Mets second base picture has become very clear with Wednesday's move to demote Justin Turner to Triple-A. The roster move leaves Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy and Luis Hernandez as the only competitors left in camp.
According to various Mets beat writers, however, the writing is on the wall: this move makes Emaus the clear-cut No. 1 option at second base. For one, despite Hernandez's slick glove, he is near invisible with the bat and will soon be cut from the major league squad as well. Murphy profiles as a plus bat off the bench and a utility player, but not someone the team really wants to rely on for the full slate of starts at the defensively demanding second base spot.
Turner had this to say about the move, as quoted by ESPN NY's Adam Rubin:
"I'm sure Brad is feeling pretty good about himself right now," Turner said.
What made this move very likely all along was two-fold: Emaus, a J.P. Ricciardi 11th-round draft pick back when he was a front office executive with Tortonto, must be offered back to the Blue Jays if he isn't on the Mets' 25-man roster since he was claimed in the Rule V Draft. And Turner had options, so he will not be lost because he didn't make the cut.
Even though Emaus looks like the winner in the second base derby, he has not really been overly impressive with the bat this spring. In his 34 at bats, he is batting .235 with a .294 slugging percentage and a .366 on-base percentage. Emaus has very good on-base skills -- as shown even in a small sample size -- and across two levels last season he had a .290/.397/.476 batting line with 15 HR, 75 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He doesn't strike out often, 69 times all last season, and he takes his fair share of walks; he had 81 last year.
It's reassuring to see the new front office, a statistically savvy one at that, not use such a small sample size to make its decision and give Emaus a shot at the big league job before cutting ties with him after a month of on-and-off spring training playing time.
MLB.com had this Emaus quote in story yesterday about what he thinks he provides to the Mets:
"I think I can get on base," Emaus said. "Like I said before, I'm not a toolsy guy, but throughout day after day, I've been able to put together good at-bats and get on base, score some runs and hopefully play a solid second base."