Call them the ReplaceMets.
Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, Dillon Gee and Ruben Tejada keyed the New York Mets' win over the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday--and perhaps gave fans a glimpse of the future.
With Jose Reyes on the bereavement list due to his grandmother's death and David Wright and Ike Davis still out on the disabled list, the Mets looked to replacements to man the field. They responded by knocking 17 hits--the most in a game for the Mets this season--to pull the Mets within three games of .500.
Murphy and Angel Pagan went 3 for 5 and Tejada was 3 for 4 at the plate to keep the bases full of Mets, and Jason Thole's eighth-inning double scored two in their 7-3 win in New York's Citi Field. Turner knocked in Nick Evans in the eighth to pad the Mets' lead, pushing his batting average to .337.
Gee lasted seven innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out eight before handing the ball over to Jason Isringhausen, who got the hold. Francisco Rodriguez closed out the ninth inning but there was no save opportunity. Even Gee could be considered a replacement player, as he would likely not be on the mound if Johan Santana and Chris Young weren't lodged on the disabled list. It was 25-year-old Gee's 12th start in the major leagues.
Given the Mets' dire financial situation, and the poor attendance this season that continues to exacerbate it, Reyes and Carlos Beltran are unlikely to be re-signed in the offseason. Wright's contract expires in 2012 with a club option for 2013, and owner Fred Wilpon has famously stated that the third baseman is good but not a superstar. The likable, popular player could probably get superstar money with another club.
Although he has played almost all of his 38 MLB games at second base, Tejada seems poised to take over the shortstop slot for Reyes. The 21-year-old is batting .316 with 254 career plate appearances, and his fielding has impressed Mets management and the media.
Murphy is in his fourth year with the Mets, making him practically a veteran on the current version of the team, but the versatile player sat out 2010 with an injured knee. He has played first base and second base, plus some designated hitter work in interleague play, and his performance at the plate this season has hewn close to his career numbers--.278 batting average, .418 slugging percentage, .755 OPS. Murphy is inexpensive ($422,000 for his current one-year contract) and could cover second base.
The 26-year-old Turner has been a pleasant surprise, notching 21 RBIs with his .851 OPS this season, and playing a slick third base. Should the Mets jettison Wright, Turner could step in--assuming his gaudy numbers aren't a function of MLB pitchers not knowing how to handle this new batter.
Gee's solid season thus far shouldn't be too much of a surprise. In 33 innings last season, Gee earned a 1.21 WHIP and a 2.18 ERA.
General manager Sandy Alderson's rebuilding of the team seems well underway, with these ReplaceMets making a case for their future--and the future of the franchise.