When the Mets announced Friday that second baseman Daniel Murphy would be shut down for at least a week with a pulled right hamstring, the entire New York fanbase most likely let out a long sigh of frustration. This frustration would certainly be justified. Murphy, soon to be 30 and entering his seventh major league season, was the lone Mets player selected to participate in last year’s All-Star Game, halfway through a season in which he finished ninth in the National League in hits, set a career high with 39 walks, and continued to cement himself among the top second sackers in the Senior Circut.
The truth is that if the Mets were to play without Murphy for an extend period of time (which General Manager Sandy Alderson hinted at as being a possibility), they are destined for a predicament that no team wants to find themselves in. If Murphy isn’t 100 percent healthy by the season opener on April 6, his replacement is not jumping off the page.
Start with the two frontrunners, as named by Alderson, Matt Reynolds and Daniel Muno. The first name was a surprising choice, considering how little time Reynolds has spent at the position in his career. The 2012 second-round draft pick has played only 21 games at second base, all last season. Reynolds has been in the news lately for the competition at shortstop, following his breakout 2014 season in which he hit .343 with 61 RBI. Manager Terry Collins has played him at second base for a total of 12 innings this spring. Muno is clearly a deep sleeper at this point, but boasts more experience at the position than Reynolds, having played the majority of his minor league games there. He shouldn’t be counted out though, as the 26-year-old sports a .400 average in 30 at bats in March. Both Reynolds and Muno have no major league service time.
Another candidate could be Dilson Herrera, although the chances are slim. The Baseball America number 46 top prospect, acquired from the Pirates in 2013, was called up to New York from Double-A Binghamton last August, and got his feet wet with 13 hits in 59 at bats. Herrera, the first Colombian born player in Mets history, was optioned to minor league camp on March 17, which hurt his chances of making the Opening Day roster significantly. Alderson is not known to be one to tinker with roster spots in a drastic way, and they will likely worry about players like Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Cesar Puello, who are fringe players that are out of minor league options.
Other options (i.e. the unlikely ones) include Ruben Tejada, who has been unimpressive at shortstop but has played 105 major league games at second base, Wilmer Flores, who could use a break from all the shortstop legitimacy talk, Wilfredo Tovar, who has played nine games in the Show in two years but gets credit for being on the 40-man roster, and super-utility man Eric Campbell, who started at second base on July 13, his only major league appearance at the position.