It seems likely, that as he did on Sunday, Fernando Tatis will get the bulk of the playing time at 3B in Wright's absence. Green, who was hitting .270/.333/.410 with AAA Buffalo, while playing at second and third, and even a few innings in RF, will serve as the backup infielder.
What about Daniel Murphy? And what about Nick Evans? And Shawn Bowman?
Evans last played 3B for 21 games in the GCL in 2004. Forget about that.
What about bringing Evans up to play first and shift Murph across to third? There are three issues here: 1. what's best for Evans, 2. what's best for Murphy and 3. what's best for the Mets now and in the future.
1. As for Evans, as I wrote about this morning, Evans is legitimately hot for the first time all year and is enjoying a good August. He's had a transient year: after a terrible start in Buffalo, the Mets sent him back down to extended spring training to find his swing again, only to promote him to Binghamton, then to the big leagues and back to Buffalo. At this point, if he's hitting and having some success in AAA, just leave him there. Let him get comfortable somewhere. Given his nomadic season, I think there's a real value to him in maintaining a strong routine at AAA, playing everyday and succeeding to help rebuild his confidence. If he continues to hit in the season's final four weeks, great, bring him up when rosters expand or when the Bisons season ends on September 7th.
2. Unlike Evans, Murphy played 3B more recently in the minors. He played 131 games at the hot corner in 2007 with St. Lucie, but was charged with 35 errors. That fall, he played in the now defunct Hawaii Winter Baseball league where I saw him play. He began 2008 by playing 3B everyday for Binghamton, tallying 64 games there when the Mets began to move him around the diamond, playing him 13 games at 1B, 17 at 2B, and 4 in LF to increase his versatility and value. No scout I talked to in Hawaii or who saw him play 3B in Binghamton thought he could play there everyday in the big leagues. The scouts were concerned about his footspeed, his range, and his arm.
3. Playing Murphy at third now would cost the Mets runs in the present, but would there be a future payoff? Only if Murphy shows he can handle third. Given that he hasn't played the position in a full year, could he step across the diamond and be adequate in a role where he was below average when he was playing 3B everyday? That seems like a lot to ask. Even if the Mets thought that Murphy had the underlying athleticism to play third, moving him there now would not put him in the best position to succeed. If he performs poorly there, as scouts think he would, that would hardly increase his trade value.
I was floored when a few fans suggested to me that the Mets should have called up Shawn Bowman from AA, instead of Green from AAA. The 24-year-old Bowman just returned to the B-Mets lineup Friday night after missing a month with a strained back. Remember, he'd missed the better part of three seasons with back problems. On a performance level, Bowman was hitting .289/.340/.441 with a .781 OPS. Green owned a .741 OPS at the higher level. The other important facet of Bowman's hitting profile statistically is the 89 strikeouts against 21 walks in 304 AB over 79 games. He's an aggressive hitter with a longish swing who will chase breaking balls. MLB pitchers would carve him up and exploit all of those swings. By contrast, Green has fanned 22 times in 122 AB over 36 games at AAA. Green has never hit much at the MLB level, but at least the extra contact will give him a chance.
The argument here is simply that calling up Shawn Bowman was not a real option. He would be overmatched by Major League pitching, and he's coming off a month on the DL. Moreover, Green can play second and third providing the Mets a flexibility none of the younger players can match.
In a season where the Mets will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive year, fans want to see the kids play and bring some hope for the future. Unfortunately, none of the youngsters have all of the skills at the plate and afield to be a credible option at third for the next two weeks. Just add one more small disappointment to the larger Mets 2009 disappointment.