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Mets second base battle

In my latest column at the Roto Times, I examine the Mets' battle at second base:

In Kazuo Matsui's last season in Japan, he hit .305 with 33 home runs and 84 RBI for the Seibu Lions. For the Mets, he's hit just .265 with 10 home runs and 68 RBI - the last two years combined. Obviously, it's safe to say that he hasn't been nearly the player the Mets thought they were acquiring when they inked him to a three-year, $24 million contract before the 2004 season.

It's not difficult to realize why Matsui's name was included in just about every trade rumor coming out of New York this winter. Entering the final year of his contract, he clearly has no long-term future with the Mets. Unfortunately, the $8 million he's due to receive this year appears to have scared off all potential suitors, making it very likely that he'll open the year on the 25-man roster.

But will he open the year in the starting lineup, too? He's hit just .200 through 35 spring training at-bats, failing to impress while younger players like Jeff Keppinger (.286) and Anderson Hernandez (.296) have performed well. Could one of those unproven but eager rookies steal the starting job?

I break down each candidate in the full column, but in hindsight I could have just written it in Haiku form like they did over at Amazin' Avenue:

Who plays second base?
A-Hern might be the smart choice.
Too bad, though. It's Kaz.

I'd be very, very hesitant about drafting Matsui this year. Even if he does emerge with the job to start the year, Hernandez and Keppinger will be nipping at his heels all year long, and both players have proven over the past couple of years that at the very least they're capable of hitting for average, and Hernandez has a lot of cheap speed potential.

What to do with Kaz [Roto Times]
Open Thread: Mets Haiku [Amazin' Avenue]