Carlos Delgado Needs Hip Surgery

First baseman out indefinitely

The Mets got the worst possible news about Carlos Delgado on Monday afternoon. The first baseman needs arthroscopic surgery on his right hip to remove a bone spur and repair a torn labrum. There's no immediate word from the team about how long Delgado will be out, but expecting him back before the All Star Game is probably unrealistic.

That means the Mets will need to figure out who plays the position regularly in Delgado's absence. There are three in-house candidates. Fernando Tatis has played a fair amount of first base this season and figures to be first in line to pick up playing time. Playing Tatis would allow the Mets to rotate Ryan Church, Daniel Murphy and Gary Sheffield in the outfield corners, and his bat, while not ideal, can produce some runs.

Murphy, of course, is another candidate for time at first. It's a new position for him, however, so the Mets would have to be prepared for some growing pains. Given the way he plays the outfield, he probably won't have a more significantly negative impact on the team's defense. With Delgado's contract up after the season, playing Murphy might benefit the Mets long term as they'll be able to evaluate if he can play the position in the future.

Jeremy Reed would be the last, and least appealing, option. In 1168 plate appearances entering this season, Reed compiled a 679 OPS, which isn't acceptable in a major league lineup. He can fill in, perhaps, but the team can't start Reed at first every day and hope to compete.

There are options available on the trading market as well. Washington's Nick Johnson is hitting .333, plays strong defense and is in his walk year with a Nationals team desperate for talent. Aubrey Huff of Baltimore has hit everywhere he's played and, like Johnson, is a pending free agent. Each of them would probably come relatively cheap, while a more tempting option like San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez would likely force the Mets to give up more than they're comfortable with to fill a short-term hole, if the Padres are even into dealing him.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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