Thursday, May 13, 2010

The experiment is over; time for Reyes to lead off again

It was worth a shot.

Jerry Manuel had talked about it in Spring Training, the idea of "lengthening the lineup" and batting Jose Reyes third. With the Mets' offense struggling, he made the move and it worked for a while, although Reyes himself never caught fire.

Thursday night's 2-1 loss to the Marlins was a classic pitcher's duel between Johan Santana and Josh Johnson, and it's unlikely that any lineup combination would have triggered a landslide of runs. But it's become increasingly clear that the lineup Manuel has been using with Reyes in the three hole just is not working, and placing him back atop the order would not only help rejuvenate his game, but perhaps that of one or two of his teammates as well.

There was plenty of talk about Reyes' comfort level batting third, and nothing he has done since he was dropped down in the order has shown that he can hit in that position.

Reyes is a natural leadoff hitter. He clearly relishes the role of starting the game, getting on base, and getting into the pitcher's head.

Part of the reason Manuel gave for hitting Reyes third was to put him directly ahead of Jason Bay, with the hope that more fastballs would kick-start his offensive production. The problem was that in trying to get one player started, Manuel may have negatively impacted two others — Reyes and David Wright.

Just as Reyes is a natural leadoff hitter, Wright is a prototypical third hitter — a solid combination of average, power and speed, with the ability to hit to all fields.

Manuel has to make the move back in the weekend series against Florida. The lineup should be Reyes, Castillo, Wright, Bay, Davis, Francoeur, Pagan, Barajas.

Davis has shown that he can handle pretty much anything, so there is no problem slotting him as the lefty between Bay and Francoeur. Pushing Pagan down to the seven hole serves to lengthen things a bit, a switch hitter between the right-handed Francoeur and Barajas. You could change it up and move Pagan second and Castillo eighth, but I like the idea of Pagan batting ahead of Barajas, having one last shot at driving in runs before the pitcher's spot.

Manuel thought outside the box and tried something different with the lineup, and there was nothing wrong with that. But it just didn't work.

Time to get back to basics and get Reyes igniting things once more. Maybe then Wright and the rest of the order will catch fire as well.

1 comment:

  1. certainly move him...if you're not going to use him like a 3rd place hitter. having him bunt last night with castillo on 2nd (i believe it was castillo) was moronic on many levels....i'm surprised keith didn't lose his stache on that one.

    i love jerry....but lost me on that one.

    and if you're saying that jose "relishes the role" of a leadoff hitter, to me that says he's not mentally strong enough to just hit in any slot, which i thought he was. if he's not, fine, we know what we have....and move him back.

    try pagan in the 3....because to me, the concept of lengthening the lineup, with either pagan or reyes, totally makes sense.