Most people have just assumed that it will be Alex Cora. He filled in for Reyes last year for a while until he himself got hurt with some bad thumbs. Cora is highly regarded as a great student of the game and many have said he will be a coach in the future.
That’s all well and good but I am going to make a case that Ruben Tejada should be the Mets opening day starting shortstop. The 20-year-old shortstop hit .289 with five homers and 46 RBI in 488 at-bats with Double-A Binghamton last season. Those are decent stats, but it isn’t about that. The Mets need to put the best defensive option they have in the field on opening day.
Imagine having Alex Cora and Luis Castillo as your defensive pairing up the middle. Both are aging veterans and both have greatly reduced range because of it. Could you imagine poor Mike Pelfrey in that scenario? Pelf and his cutter getting ground ball after ground ball and watching them just go by our two old middle infielders. That’s not going to work. If it’s deemed that Tejada is much better then Cora in the field then he must play. I don’t really care if the kid hits .100 at the plate. There is no way we can have a double play pairing of Castillo and Cora. It just wont work.
I like Alex Cora and like him on the team, though I though it absurd what Minaya paid for him, but that’s more as a bench guy and a locker room type guy that can spell Reyes or Castillo here or there. He can not play extended time for this team.
So take the kid aside, tell him you don’t care what he does at the plate, focus on his fielding and lets see what he can do. Explain to him up front there is really no pressure on him, and he will be sent down when Reyes returns. This way you don’t have to worry about ruining the kid, and you get to take a look at what you have potentially.
Truth is, from where I am looking at it, the Mets don’t have any other options.