Roundtable: Does Justin Turner deserve a roster spot?

Josh Satin didn’t get much of a chance this Spring and has already been sent down, which bums me out a little.  So, I asked my friends in the blogosphere the following question:

Assuming he’s healthy, does Justin Turner deserve a spot on the Opening Day roster?

These people all do great work and their names are hyperlinked to their blogs so please go ahead and click on them to check out their real stuff.

Jon Springer – Deeply suspects “Uncle” Jerry is really his dad

As they said in UNFORGIVEN, “It ain’t about deservin.'” Ultimately it’s not really Turner’s health that determines his fate, but the health of others, namely Wright and Murphy. The uncertainty around those two, combined with Terry’s confidence in what Turner can do, probably gets him the job at least at first. In general I believe in churning bench guys and bullpenners year to year and think in a totally fair fight I’d sooner select Hicks who appears able to fill the same defensive role with a little more potential to hit for power. In Turner’s defense, Hicks isn’t exactly banging down the door and Turner at the very least continues a longstanding Met tradition of employing a chubby redhead on the bench.

John Coppinger – His outlook on life was developed watching “Tom & Jerry”

Who is to say what any of us deserve in life. You could be a great actor and sing circles around half the popular singers in America and be waiting tables in midtown Manhattan. You could be born of the fortunate seed and be C.O.O. of a Major League Baseball team. Does talent and philanthropy bring you the things you deserve in life? Not always. So I don’t know what Justin deserves. For all we know, he could have a stalker sending him notes that say “I know what you did last summer.” Well thanks to baseball reference, we all know what Justin Turner did last summer, and still can’t make heads or tails of what that entitles him.

In short, it’s not like he’s battling with Rogers Hornsby for a roster spot. So sure. Why not.

Michael Geus – Has every record Gerry & the Pacemakers ever produced

We joke about Justin a lot on our site, but my answer is yes. Somebody has to be the 25th man and Bixler and Hicks have not shown me enough to warrant a change. Lutz would be intriguing but he looks like anything but a corner spot won’t work with him. That would be a luxury for this team. Frankly though, Turner, Bixler, Lutz, Hicks, you are splitting hairs. Hopefully none of these guys are on the field much or else things are going very wrong. It sure seems Collins really likes Turner, I would assume that is clubhouse driven. When it comes to picking between flawed players that is a logical tiebreaker.

Howard Megdal – Wants Jerry Seinfeld just once to say, “Hello, Megdal”

Probably. The answer isn’t binary: it isn’t just about Turner, but about his competition. Who is likelier to provide a roughly 95 OPS+ and below average, but not unforgiveably poor defense at second base or third base? No one I can see. Who is a candidate to break out and provide something better? Maybe Zach Lutz at third base, though injuries always seem to slow him down, or Jordany Valdespin at second base, though his defense there simply isn’t good enough to allow him regular time at the position. But you could do worse than Justin Turner backing up at least one of these spots. Alas, he’s also an option at first and the outfield, where even his bat doesn’t profile. But as I’ve said previously: Justin Turner isn’t the problem for the Mets. That they have no options better than Turner, and he is the fallback plan at so many spots, is the problem.

Jason Fry – Crosses out “Jerry” on his ice cream to make it “Ben & Jason”

First off, Justin Turner seems like a good guy with a sense of humor about himself, which should be applauded. Yeah, we got tired of the “Call Me Maybe” joke, but it was a good joke — most ballplayers wouldn’t/couldn’t have made it, because they’re a) dull b) self-obsessed or c) both. That said, I don’t really see why Turner is on the team — even his biggest advocates have to admit he’s pretty limited. I’d much rather see Zach Lutz or Josh Satin, either of whom have a potentially higher ceiling with the bat and would probably be no worse in the field.

Turner’s value seems built on the perception that he’s a clutch hitter and a reputation for being good in the clubhouse. If you believe in the former, OK, but let’s stop there: You and I both love the Mets, but our statistical discussions are going to end with us annoyed with each other. Re good in the clubhouse, what are we talking about? Does that mean Turner is a good teacher of how to size up pitchers and position yourself on the infield, or does it mean he’s quick with a shaving-cream pie and nice to the beat writers? Neither’s quantifiable, but I see the value of the former and question the point of the latter. Since there are probably still GMs who believe in clutch hitting and place an outsized value on chemistry, I’d love to see Sandy move Turner for someone who might help one of the many other places we could use it. If that happened, I’d root for Turner whereever he landed — and be eager to hear what his at-bat music is.

Greg Prince – We gerrymandered this to get him in

Advantage: He knows the playbook, so to speak. Turner’s a pitch-taking machine and a great team guy, based on his being a Met most of the last three years and still being able to smile. But if someone can be objectively judged to have outperformed him, I can’t see a reason to remain attached to him. Useful, but not indispensable. (Wow, I’d make a cold-hearted HR manager.)


I pretty much agree with every word that Jason wrote.  Turner had the good fortune to produce in his first extended look and has been riding on those coattails ever since.  Turner had 40 PA in brief appearances in the majors in 2009 & 2010.  Then he caught a break in 2011 and saw consistent playing time due to injuries.  In his first 99 PA in 2011, he posted an .851 OPS thanks in large part to a .380 BABIP.  The rest of the year he had a .648 OPS.  In 2012 he had a .711 OPS.

He’s not terrible but somehow he’s conned the majority into thinking that he’s good.  He’s like the Mets’ version of Joe McEwing, if you can somehow ignore the fact that McEwing had 1,169 PA (and a .644 OPS) with the Mets.

Like McEwing, he’s willing to play anywhere in the field.  Unlike McEwing, he’s not particularly good defensively at any position.  At least McEwing was solid in the infield.  Turner has a (-16) DRS at 2B, the position he’s played the most in the majors.  Turner posted that in 770.1 innings at second base and no one thinks he’s particularly bad there.  Daniel Murphy posts a (-11) DRS in 1,127.2 innings at second base last year and has his defense described as terrible.  And it’s Turner’s natural position and Murphy’s third-best position.

Turner is far from the biggest problem on the Mets.  But he’s a problem nonetheless, as he offers almost zero upside.  With a team looking to find improvements wherever it can, why waste a roster spot on Turner?  My preference would be for the Mets to give his spot to Satin or Lutz and see if they could give anything more.  It would be a shock if their on-the-field production could be much less.


Thanks to Jon, John, Michael, Howard, Jason and Greg for participating!



10 comments for “Roundtable: Does Justin Turner deserve a roster spot?

  1. March 20, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I’m with Brian: I’d rather see Lutz or Satin get the shot.

  2. Frank
    March 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Turner has to be in the MLB roster since he is far too old to develop his game in the minors. With that said, that doesn’t mean he DESERVES to be. If all things were fair, Satin would be on the roster as the team looks to bring their youth along at the MLB level more.

  3. March 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I’d take Turner over Hicks based on the Spring Training numbers. Hicks may have more pop, but 18 strikesouts in 33 at-bats is ridiculous!

  4. Metsense
    March 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I have stated in the past that Turner is an average NL second baseman and belongs in the major leagues. I also believe on the Met depth chart he has slipped to their third option at second. I don’t see Hicks making the roster and JV hasn’t got any time at SS. If the Mets take non roster Quintinilla north then Jason loses a chance as backup SS (a position Turner doesn’t belong at). Lutz should be the backup corner infielder, sending him down is pointless. Turner stays if Wright or Murphy start on DL. If they don’ t, then the choice is Turner or Quintinilla and I’d take Quint. Turner still has an option, and I really like him, but he has no place on the current team.

  5. Dan Stack
    March 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Being a good clubhouse guy can only go so far. I like Turner, but the upside with him is limited and we probably have already seen the best of him.

  6. Joe Vasile
    March 20, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    I simply don’t understand why Turner continues to get PA when we’ve got Satin toiling away in AAA. Like Jason said, Satin has a higher ceiling with the bat than Turner does, and is at least similar in his defense. I was someone calling for Turner to be called up while we had Luis Castillo and Alex Cora taking up space at second, mostly because A. Turner was an untested commodity who could’ve turned out to be better, and B. Turner is better than Castillo or Cora. Now that the team knows what they’re getting out of Turner, and there’s a possibility Satin can be better, it’s time to give Satin a shot to be on the team as the Utility IF. I’m also all for giving Lutz a roster spot, which could be logistically difficult.

  7. March 20, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    I think that there’s definitely something to be said for a player like Turner who has a lot of flexibility in the field and can also hit significantly above the mendoza line.

    • Joe Vasile
      March 20, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      .319 OBP, .392 SLG…no thank you. I’d rather take my chances with Satin who has a career .396 OBP in the minors.

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