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.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.