The Makeshift Lineup

February 28, 2010

I have already written about my displeasure in the Mets’ decision to not move Carlos Beltran this off-season.  It is for this reason that we are discussing lineup options geared towards filling holes rather than writing something in that is strong and steady.  This was the Met brain trust at work once again.  I suppose you might call it the opposite of strong and steady.

Regardless of how you feel about this, we must now deal with what Jerry Manuel will have to pencil in on a day-to-day basis, even if it is far less than optimal.  I break this down into ideal versus inevitable lineups.  The ideal lineup lists where each player would most likely fall in a traditional batting order.  The ideal lineup will also be an incomplete one, as the Mets do not currently have players to fill all of the traditional holes that a batting order constitutes.  The inevitable lineup is the best case scenario for the Mets in order to actually plug all the holes needed to complete the batting order.  Let us begin with what is inevitable.  In parenthasis you will see the batting order slot that the player truly belongs in.

Inevitable Lineup:

1) Angel Pagan (bench/fourth outfielder)

2) Luis Castillo (8)

3) Jose Reyes (1)

4) David Wright (5)

5) Jason Bay (5)

6) Daniel Murphy (2)

7) Jeff Francoeur (7)

8) Rod Barajas (8)

9) Pitcher (9)

As you can plainly see, the Mets have players batting out of their ideal positions.  This is particularly true for Jose Reyes, whose capabilities project very well as a leadoff hitter because of his speed and the intangibles he brings to the game.  He does not fit the profile of a third place hitter very well, as that slot is defined as a team’s most patient, intelligent, and fundamentally sound hitter.  It usually is held down by someone who has a great eye for pitch recognition, and that with this selectivity, can fight off tough two-strike pitches before he eventually capitalizes on a mistake pitch.  I think that it is safe to say that Jose Reyes is not this type of hitter.  Would anyone argue with me?

The problem is that we do not actually have a hitter of this ilk on the roster, and that poses a large problem.  Who is the one guy that pitchers dread to face in a big spot?  Still thinking?  Believe me, you will be sitting there for a while until you eventually settle on someone who you know is not worthy.

If you sum it up, the Mets have one leadoff hitter, one potential 2nd place hitter, two fifth place hitters, one seventh place hitter, and two eighth place hitters.  Look below to see what the ideal lineup would entail.

1) Jose Reyes

2) Daniel Murphy

3) Player not on team

4) Player not on team

5) David Wright/Jason Bay

6) Player not on team

7) Jeff Francoeur

8) Rod Barajas/Luis Castillo

9) Pitcher

You can see my point.  Yes, I understand that not every team is the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox (even though we exceed one of the two in payroll…rapping head against the table).  I also realize that I have excluded Carlos Beltran, but that is what I do to players that are often injured….I pretend that they do not exist.  What other responsible thing can I do?

Jerry Manuel will have a tough time filling in his daily lineup card with the troops he has in his dugout.

The main point is this.  Not having a true number three or number four hitter on the Met roster makes it utterly impossible for me to have much confidence in the 2010 perspective lineup.

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Around the Horn – Catcher

February 11, 2010

Oh yeah.  I have to cover catcher.  No, we did not get Bengie Molina, and I am not heartbroken over an overweight 35-year-old catcher who will begin his decline very soon.  Whoever you see playing catcher this year, they will surely bat eighth in the order, and lull you to sleep.  That much is a near certainty.

Omir Santos – It appears that Omir will receive a share of the catching at bats for the Mets in 2010.  This is based mostly on his prowess against right-handed pitching in 2009.  He struggled mightily against left-handers, however, and that is why he will sit on the bench against the majority of those pitchers.  Omir toiled in the minor leagues, mostly for the New York Yankees, for eight seasons with very mediocre numbers.  He is a bit of an enigma to Met fans as this fact, along with his age of 29 (30 in April), might surprise you.  His bat appears to have some quickness in it, and his production last year illustrated that.  I do believe that it is smart that the Mets stockpiled other players for the position, just in case adjustments are made against him by big league pitching this year.

Henry Blanco – A career .228 hitter will excite no one.  I urge anyone who is excited to check their meds.  He does however hit marginally better throughout his career against left-handers, something that could compliment Omir Santos fairly well.  This was even more exemplified last season as he hit .122 points higher against lefties over righties.  He has been around for quite some time, having been at least a part-time player for 10 of his 12 seasons.  He is known to be a fairly good defensive catcher, but at 38 years of age, it may be a reach to say that he will be a productive platoon catcher in 2010.  Also, please do not mention to me that he handles the staff well.  We heard that about Brian Schneider as well.  What a joke that was.  That is a simple way of saying that a catcher has no significant talent.

Chris Coste – Based on the uncertainty of Santos and both the age and lack of production of Blanco, the Mets signed Chris Coste to add more depth and options.  Chris had a long minor league career, much like Santos has.  In fact, his career spanned parts of 13 seasons.  He appeared to be a productive minor league hitter for the most part, rasing questions as to why he was not called up to the big leagues sooner than he was (2006).  Like Blanco, he is also more productive against right-handers, although his production is significantly higher all around.  Last season Coste seemed to drop off offensively, so perhaps the law of averages will play a role in a rebound for Coste this year.  I do believe that Blanco will have to struggle mightily for him to receive much playing time, let alone be on the active 25 man roster.

Josh Thole – We finally arrive at a player with some real measure of potential at the position, and the first left-handed hitting catcher to boot.  His minor league production improved year to year, which eventually led to his cup of coffee with the Mets last year.  It is apparent, however, that the Mets feel that they would like to see him perform in AAA for at least a portion of 2010 before anointing him their starter.  He will come to spring training, but knowing how the Mets operate, it will just be an opportunity to hang with the big boys before the inevitable minor league designation.  Let us keep in mind that he is only 23 years old after spending five seasons in the minors.

Can Josh Thole wow the Mets in spring training and make the Met catching situation less boring in 2010?

Mike Jacobs – Come on now.  This guy has about as much chance of converting back to catcher as I do of bench pressing over 200 pounds.  Trust me.  If that flew over your head, that equates to approximately zero percent.  I only mention him here because there has been some talk that he should convert back to catcher because the Mets have a need for some pop from the left side of the plate.  Why not get it from Jacobs at a position that needs an upgrade?  Wishful thinking I say.

There is nothing exciting to tell you about the Met catching situation for 2010 unless Josh Thole hits .600 in spring training.  Even then, I could see the Mets going with what they have and boring us to death once gain. I, for one, can not hold back my excitement.