Where’s Brad Emaus?
The first real playoff team Terry Collins managed with the Mets was in his first season with the team. It is hard to believe now, but that team was full of players that are now members, if not significant contributors, to teams that reached the postseason this year:
- Josh Thole – Toronto Blue Jays (not on the ALDS roster)
- Daniel Murphy – Washington Nationals
- Justin Turner – Los Angeles Dodgers
- David Wright – New York Mets (injured; not on the Wild Card Game roster)
- Jose Reyes – New York Mets
- Angel Pagan – San Francisco Giants
- Carlos Beltran – Texas Rangers
- Lucas Duda – New York Mets (injured; not on the Wild Card Game roster)
- R.A. Dickey – Toronto Blue Jays (not on the ALDS roster)
- Jon Niese – New York Mets (injured; not on the Wild Card Game roster)
Reading the names on that list, the two that immediately jump off the page are Murphy and Turner. They jump off the page for a myriad of reasons. The first reason is the two players are currently facing off against one another in the NLDS between the Dodgers and the Nationals. The series is tied at 1-1 in large part because Turner and Murphy have continued to be terrific postseason player.
Last year, Turner hit .526/.550/.842 with six doubles and four RBI against the Mets in the NLDS last year. Overall, in Turner’s postseason career, he is a .500/.538/.875 hitter with six doubles, one homer, and six RBI.
Murphy was the bat that helped carried the Mets to the World Series last year. In consecutive games, he hit homers off of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and Kyle Hendricks. He would also homer off Fernando Rodney in what was a stretch of six straight games with a home run. In addtion to the homers, Murphy’s going from first to third on a walk in Game Five of the NLDS helped changed the complexion of that game. Additionally, up until the World Series, he had played exceptional defense (which admittedly is a rarity for him). So far in the NLDS, Murphy is 4-6 with a walk and two RBI. The first of the two RBI was the go-ahead RBI in Game 2 of the NLDS.
Between Turner and Murphy, the Mets had at one time two second baseman who have established themselves to be extraordinarily clutch and terrific postseason players. They were also two players the Mets were eager to replace.
Turner was surprisingly non-tendered a contract after a 2013 season where he seemed to solidify himself as a utility or platoon player (at a minimum). Instead, the Mets let him go with rumors circulating that he was a me-first player that didn’t hustle. He was also characterized as a player that wasn’t progressing because he liked the night scene a little too much. He would go to Los Angeles and blossom as a player. The Mets internal replacement? Eric Campbell.
When Murphy became a free agent, the Mets first aggressively pursued Ben Zobrist. After failing to land him, the Mets quickly moved to trade for Neil Walker. At no time did the Mets even make Murphy an offer. Unlike Turner, Walker was an actual replacement with Walker having a great year for the Mets before needing season ending back surgery. However, despite how good Walker’s year was, he still wasn’t anywhere near was good as Murphy was for the Nationals.
It should never have come as a surprise that both of these players were gone because the Mets, under Sandy Alderson’s reign as General Manager, never really wanted either player. If you go back to that 2011 season, the Opening Day second baseman was Rule 5 Draft pick, Brad Emaus. After a couple of weeks of him struggling, the Mets moved on and finally went to Murphy and Turner at second base. Murphy would get the bulk of the playing time there until Ike Davis‘ ankle injury that allowed them to play side-by-side. With Davis’ healing up and being ready for the 2012 season, the Mets proceeded with Murphy as the second baseman and Turner as the utility player. As we know, that lasted just two year.
Ultimately, the Mets made the postseason this year without either player. And yes, both players got their first chance with the Mets. Quite possibly, neither player would be in the position they are in now without the Mets giving them a chance to prove they are major league players. However, the Mets also made clear they didn’t want either player starting all the way back in 2011 when they anointed Emaus the everyday second baseman. Eventually, the Mets would get their chance to move on, and they took advantage of that opportunity.
With that, Murphy and Turner are in the NLDS after the Mets lost the Wild Card Game with T.J. Rivera starting at second base. One of those two will be in the NLCS with a chance to go to the World Series, a position the Mets thought they were going to be in as the season started. With all that in mind, it begs the question: how much differently would the Mets season have gone if they had kept either Turner or Murphy?