- Three days before Mets pitchers and catchers report to camp, Omar Minaya is already settled into his office in Port St. Lucie, Fla. And the GM is looking forward to several position battles this spring, including one that seemed unlikely just a week ago: first base.
Minaya told me first base will be "an open competition" between Daniel Murphy and Mike Jacobs, who signed a minor-league deal with the Mets last week. Murphy is still the pre-camp favorite to win the job, but if he struggles over the next seven weeks and Jacobs impresses, the Mets could alter their thinking.
"He'll compete for the job," Minaya said of Jacobs. "I think it's fair to say that Murphy has proven himself worthy of being considered, but he's going to have to continue. It's an open competition."
Whether it's Murphy or Jacobs, the Mets' starting first baseman in 2010 may just be keeping the spot warm for prospect Ike Davis, anyway. Davis, 22, will be in camp as a non-roster invitee.
Davis is probably going to win the job, eventually. But with only 55 games above Class A, that eventually is late this summer at the earliest, and probably sometime in 2011. So, considering that the Mets will have a large payroll in 2010, but will enter the season picked to finish second or third in their division, they can hardly afford to just punt a position.
But that's what they're doing. When you see the names "Daniel Murphy" and "Mike Jacobs," you might say to yourself, "Self, neither of those guys are good enough to play every day, but what about a platoon? After all, the Mets are set with every-day players for every other position, so they should have the roster space to carry two first basemen."
Ah, that's what I thought, too. But then, a nagging little suspicion: Aren't Murphy and Jacobs both left-handed hitters?
That's right, friends. Even though he already had Murphy, Minaya chose -- from among all the sluggardly sluggers looking for an invitation to spring training -- another left-handed hitter to compete with Murphy.
Against left-handed pitchers in his career, Jacobs has been utterly useless: .221/.269/.374.
Against left-handed pitchers in his career, Murphy has been slightly better: .240/.289/.442.
Granted, neither of them have been crackerjacks against right-handed pitchers, either. Jacobs hasn't reached base often enough and Murphy hasn't hit for enough power. But each might be useful against right-handers.
Maybe Minaya's not finished yet. Maybe he's going to trade Murphy for a righty-hitting first baseman. Maybe he's bringing Jacobs to camp just to give Murphy some competition. Maybe he's going to sign Mike Sweeney to platoon with the winner of the Murphy/Jacobs smackdown.
Maybe. But until something else happens, we'll have to go with this as the No. 1 early contender for 2010's Worst Plan of Spring Training Award.