Asdrubal Cabrera wants to play second base, so Sandy Alderson should let him, and immediately pull the trigger on upgrading the hot corner.
"I like to play third, but I prefer to play second because I’ve played more there than third base,’’ Cabrera told the Post’s Kevin Kernan. “I just feel more comfortable there.
"When they moved me over there during the season it was kind of hard for me that first month, so yeah, I prefer second base. If I had the opportunity to pick a position, I would pick second base."
Okay, fair enough. Then it's time to go get a third baseman now, please and thank you.
Earlier in the offseason, I contended that, if the Mets were insistent on starting Cabrera, he'd be better off at third base. In a limited sample in 2017, the numbers say, despite his preference, that he was far better at third (-6 Defensive Runs Saved in 274.1 innings last year at 2B versus +1 DRS in 350.1 innings at 3B).
But the more I think about it, I'm not convinced Cabrera would be a back breaker at second.
First, Adrian Gonzalez is probably going to be this team's first baseman, and the most overlooked facet of his game is his defense. Over the course of his career, he's been worth +66 DRS at first. Admittedly, that number was -2 last season, but in just 501 innings. The other samples, which are far more position, are all over 1,200 innings. Age will surely limit his range, so he may not be as good as when he was worth +16 DRS in 2012, but he should be better than the Lucas Duda (-1 DRS in '17, +9 career at first)/Dom Smith (-7 DRS) combo.
Before you yell at me saying Duda (2015 World Series throw notwithstanding) was an adequate defensive first baseman for this team, consider this: Duda is right handed. That means that it can be harder for him to get to balls in the hole than it would be for the left handed Gonzalez, even in A-Gon's advancing age. That should allow Cabby to cheat up the middle a little bit more and maybe make up for some of the range he's lost over the years (Cabrera was a +16 DRS player at second 10 years ago, so the downward spiral in his advanced defensive metrics is obviously a product of decreasing range).
Plus, whether we can find a metric for this or not, players can let their mental state impact their performance, even if it's just subconsciously. Cabrera isn't a defensive wizard at any position, so the best thing he can do for this team is hit. That being the case, and working under the assumption that the Mets truly are in fact committed to upgrading one of these positions, I'd rather him not focus on playing a position he's not comfortable playing at the risk of taking that discomfort up to the dish with him.
All this is to say that the Mets shouldn't be afraid to go sign a third baseman, just because of Cabrera' defense at second. So now it's time for Sandy to go get a third baseman.
People are going to scream for Mike Moustakas, but I just don't see that happening. It's going to cost too much in term and money for the Mets' tastes. Instead, go grab Todd Frazier.
For the moment, let's ignore the fact that Frazier was worth 3.4 WAR in 2017 compares to Moustakas' 1.8. Frazier is anywhere from solid-to-very-good at third base, balances the lineup with his right handed bat (Conforto-Cespedes-Bruce-Frazier could act as 2-through-5 in the lineup, breaking up Conforto and Bruce's left handed bats), and gets on base. No, I don't particularly care that he's been a low average hitter the last two seasons. There are enough positives behind those metrics (which I wrote about here) to show that he still could be one of the Mets' better players, low average or not.
So now is the time to act. With their options narrowed down to Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, Neil Walker, and Josh Harrison, it's time to go and get the best player who wouldn't cost an assets from the organization other than a monetary investment (insert joke here).
Pitchers and catchers report in 13 days. It's time for the Mets to lock up the team they're going to war with. All eyes on you, Sandy.
Our first nighttime weekend game of the season! Let's go big for this one. Swing by to see some friends, maybe meet some new ones, and responsibly wash down a couple cold ones.