Off-Season Preview: Duquette's Second Base Task

As part of a continuing series, Mets analyst Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com takes an in depth look at the possibilities existing to fill the second base hole for new general manager Jim Duquette.

Luis Castillo
Status: Free agent. Likely to command a 3-year/$20-25 million deal.

Teams rumored to be Interested: Mets, Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs, White Sox and Marlins

3-year Average Season (555 AB's): .295 AVG, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 33 SB, 70 SO Pros: The switch-hitting 28-year-old posted a team high .314 batting average in 2003. His six home runs were a career high. A slap hitter, Castillo achieves more than half of his hits on groundballs through the infield - a quality great for batting behind fellow countryman Jose Reyes. His strikeouts have decreased in each of the last three seasons, falling from 90 to 76 to 60. Castillo earned his first Gold Glove in 2003. His .986 fielding percentage was second only to Mark Loretta's .990.

Cons: Castillo's off-season hip surgery appeared to limit his ability to steal bases in 2003. Once a NL stolen-base champion, his totals have decreased every season since 2000, from 62 to 21. Castillo hit .211 this past post-season, raising concerns about his ability to play in a large market.

Jose Vidro
Status: Final year of arbitration, will likely earn $6 to $8 million in 2004. Should the Expos re-sign Vladimir Guerrero, Vidro and Javier Vasquez will likely be shopped in an effort to save money.

Teams rumored to be interested: Yankees, Mets and Red Sox

3-year Average Season (555 AB's): .315 AVG, 17 HR, 76 RBI, 59 SO, 3 SB Pros: Vidro is a consistent doubles machine, hitting as many as 51, but no fewer than 34 in his last five seasons. In that same time frame he has never hit less than .304 or had fewer than 12 home runs in a season. At 29-years-old, he has garnered the reputation of being both a "feisty" and "patient" hitter, working counts and making consistent contact from both sides of the plate. His defense is above average, but far from Gold Glove material. His stolen base numbers are low mostly because he bats third in the Expos batting order.

Cons: Nagging injuries seem to plague Vidro every season. Though he plays through them, he has missed an average of 20 games per season over the last five years.

Fernando Vina
Status: Non-tendered free agent. Likely to command a one-year deal around $2 million.

Teams rumored to be interested: Mets, Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs, White Sox and Marlins - if they don't get Castillo.

3-year Average Season (555 AB's): .280 AVG, 5 HR, 49 RBI, 35 SO, 14 SB

Pros: Vina's defense is outstanding. His range and arm are amongst the best in baseball, and he turns the double play as well as anyone. At 34-years-old, his fastest days on the base paths are behind him. While his stolen base totals are in a steady decline, he still advances from first to third as well as he ever did.

Cons: Vina's best offensive season was in 2001, when he hit .303 with 9 HR and 56 RBI - not exactly standout numbers. Since that time, his batting average has been in a steady decline, while his strikeouts per at bat are on the rise. Vina doesn't walk nearly enough, and although he rarely strikes out, his on base percentage is not high enough for a leadoff hitter.

Adam Kennedy
Status: Sixth-year arbitration eligible, expected to earn $3 to $4 million in 2004. Rumored to be either traded or non-tendered by the Angels.

Teams rumored to be interested: Mets, White Sox and Red Sox

3-year Average Season (555 AB's): .284 AVG, 10 HR, 56 RBI, 89 SO, 20 SB

Pros: The 2002 ALCS MVP, Kennedy's defense at second base has improved dramatically. Once a defensive liability, the 27-year-old has impressed many with his ability to go to his right and make acrobatic throws from the hole. His .990 fielding percentage was tied for first in all of baseball amongst second baseman and his six errors were the fewest in the league. Kennedy set a career high in home runs with 13 in 2003.

Cons: Is Kennedy the .312 hitter, who also hit .340 in the postseason, during 2002; or is he the .269 hitter from 2003? Is he the batter who hit 32 doubles the year before last, or the one who hit only 17 the year after?


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