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The Mets' really, really good idea

Feb 10, 2010, 7:57 AM EDT

The Mets have made a lot of bad decisions this offseason, but here’s a really, really good one: having Keith Hernandez help Daniel Murphy with his defense at first base:

The tutorials are underway in Port St. Lucie, after general manager
Omar Minaya called Hernandez requesting that he help ease Murphy’s
transition to first base. Hernandez and Murphy have spent the last two
days working on fundamentals . . . “I do like [Murphy’s] aggressiveness,” Hernandez said. “He’s always got
the thought of getting the lead runner. He likes to go in the hole
after a ball and he’s just got to learn when it’s not his ball, when he
needs to get back to the bag.”

Whenever someone struggles defensively, there’s this temptation to say “ah, just stick him at first base.”  First base, however, is no easy trick. In fact, it seems like parts of the job — feeling for the bag without looking; that bit Hernandez mentions about deciding whether to get back to the bag or not — would be harder, or at the very least less intuitive, than a lot of other positions. Assuming he’s not as intimidated as all hell, Murphy is probably very, very happy to have the guy who is more or less the best ever at the position giving him pointers.

Especially given that he now has some competition for the job.

  1. Wooden U. Lykteneau - Feb 10, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    That sound in the distance is not the wind, but the groan of Mets fans when they clicked through and didn’t see “Omar Minaya has been fired”

  2. Jonny5 - Feb 10, 2010 at 8:22 AM

    Well if you blindfold a 10 year old and give him a barrel of darts to throw at a dartboard ,he’s still going to hit the bullseye once, if he’s lucky twice. The law of averages says they can’t make many more mistakes.

  3. Jonny5 - Feb 10, 2010 at 8:47 AM

    I still can’t figure out why they signed Bay to that juicy contract. They won’t contend, their Payroll was already astronomical before they signed him. I figured it was time to trade away the big salaries and get as many prospects as possible… I just don’t get it. If I was a good General manager (obviously they lack this) I’d probably say, well this team we put together isn’t working, look at FLA, and their paltry payroll, think of how they will still most likely stomp you all season long and dismantle the team for a whole slew of youthfull prospects. They spend like it’s a “win now” situation, well it isn’t.
    I know for a fact Mets fans would rather see this than see all this wasted money and talent, they’d love to see a team grow into a great team from youthful prospects on the cheap. WHY CAN’T THIS TEAM JUST ACCEPT THEY FAILED AND REBUILD??????

  4. Kid Charlemagne - Feb 10, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    That bit about knowing when to go back to the bag reminds me of one of the headiest plays I ever saw – and it was really subtle. Greg Maddux was on the mound for the Braves (back in the mid/late 90’s) and someone hit a slow hopper to the shortstop side of second base. It was a fast runner, IIRC, and Maddux reached ot to grab it – and pulled his glove back at the last moment, allowing Walt Weiss to come in on it and throw the runner out at first. Maddux might have been able to make the play, but he would have been going to wrong direction, while Weiss had momentum on his side – which was the only thing that let them get the runner.

  5. Joey B - Feb 10, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    I agree that defense at 1B is very underrated.
    Having said that, the idea that the NYMs have a defensive coach is not unheard of.

  6. hop - Feb 10, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    Keith can show my mom how to play first base but that doesn’t mean she will be anywhere near as good as Keith was.

  7. Bubb - Feb 10, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    Defense is important everywhere. However hitting especially power hitting is important too. Since first base can be played adequately by almost anyone this is where hitters without a position play. Howard and Fielder come to mind. Cabrera and Konerko. Unfortunately Murph is neither a good fielder or a good hitter with power. He is probably the worst 1B in the league.

  8. ecp - Feb 10, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    Competition for first base? Nobody should let Mike Jacobs anywhere near a glove. Strictly DH fodder. The Mets shouldn’t be giving him the time of day.

  9. Jonny5 - Feb 10, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    First base is hugely underrated, I agree. They have the most plays per inning of any position, therefore more chances to make an error, probably 3 times the amount of any other position… And it isn’t all catch the ball tag the plate plays either. There is alot of diving catches where the 2nd baseman may not reach in time. Line drives down the first baseline are quite common as well. It isn’t as easy as many people think. Just because there are a few out of shape guys playing the position doesn’t mean it’s an easy one.
    THIS SNOW SUCKS!!! Just thought I’d share….

  10. BC - Feb 10, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    Even a broken watch is right twice a day.
    Jacobs is basically a younger version of Matt Stairs. Not the solution. What is, given the market, heck, I don’t know. They’d be better with Hank Blaylock over there, he can at least catch something – he’s a decent fielder – and would hit maybe 20 homers, which in a good year is maybe 8-10 less than Jacobs, with perhaps 80 less strikeouts. Seems clear to me.

  11. Old Gator - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:36 AM

    We used to watch Jacobs parlay dribblers down the first base line into doubles on a routine basis down at Joeprodolsharklife Stadium. He moved to his left about as adroitly as Karl Rove, even with his glove as a counterweight. I think his back problems were a psychosomatic reaction to how humiliated he must have felt every time he looked up and saw the two or three fans in the field boxes were actually using that “Mike’s Corner” banner to hide the fact that they were yanking themselves rather than bothering to watch him tank another play.
    Winter in Albuquerque. Why they had to hold the best and wackiest conference of the academic year in February at this altitude is beyond me, but one of the compensations is the strawberry pancakes at Mannie’s or the chicken fried steak at the Route 66 Diner. I’ve eaten chicken fried steak everywhere and this is the best yet – even better than at the Green Cove Springs Cafe south of New Braunfels. You can taste the burnt oil from Kerouac and Cassidy’s Cadillac manifold in every bite. It’s open late, too; come wash the nighttime clean, come grow this scorched ground green, blow the horn, tap the tambourine…yeah, good stuff.

  12. Willard Larche - Mar 6, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    After 3 weeks of being given the runaround between Skype & DualPhone over a fault that originated after 10 months, I have at present given up and won’t be purchasing anything from the Skype shop or DualPhone again. My advice would be to avoid purchasing that handset and stay to 1 of the wider more respectable manufacturers.

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