2009 New York Mets Projected Opening Day Lineup
1. Jose Reyes
2. Luis Castillo/Alex Cora
3. David Wright
4. Carlos Beltran
5. Carlos Delgado
6. Ryan Church
7. Daniel Murphy/Fernando Tatis
8. Brian Schneider
At the Top of the Lineup...
While analyzing this lineup, many things run through my mind. The first thing that jumps out at me, and what should be the first thing that jumps out at anyone, is the catalyst, Jose Reyes.
As Reyes goes, nine times out of 10, it's how the Mets offense goes. The more often he can find his way on base, the easier it makes the next hitter's job, especially if it is Luis Castillo. (So he can bunt. Sorry, Luis.)
Having a player like Reyes leading it off is irreplaceable. His speed turns almost any single or walk into an automatic double, and puts him in scoring position.
The Meat of the Order
The heart of the Mets' lineup, from the three hole to the six slot, is one of the best in all of baseball.
David Wright has turned into an absolute superstar, and has lived up to all of the hype that surrounded him. Last year he put up career highs in home runs (33), RBI (124), and runs (118). Mets fans have no reason to think he will not repeat what he did last year, this season.
David Wright is given the opportunity to do what he does because of the enormous protection he has behind him in the lineup. Carlos Beltran could be a future hall of famer, and Carlos Delgado is already a hall of famer.
A key component is that Beltran is a switch hitter. Having a switch hitter in the clean up slot mixes up the lineup, and it makes it tougher for opposing teams to create a good matchup. Everybody helps one another in this lineup and feeds off of each other. The power that Beltran and Delgado provide to the middle of the lineup is critical.
The Carlos Delgado Effect
The most important part of the Mets' offensive success in 2009 will not be Reyes or Wright, but Delgado. This Jekyll and Hyde slugger can either hit .220 or .300. If he hits .220, the Mets offense will struggle. If he hits .300, the Mets will score the most runs in the National League.
Signs point to Carlos having an impact year. While playing under Willie Randolph in 2007 and half of 2008, Delgado's numbers were the lowest of his career. In 2007, he hit a career low .258 with home runs (24) and RBI (87), also both career lows. However, once Randolph was fired as manager of the Mets, Delgado's youth found him again.
In the three months he was at the plate under current manager Jerry Manuel, Delgado belted 24 home runs, as many as he had the entire prior season. He also drove in an astounding 70 runs in only three months.
Which Delgado will show up in 2009? Hopefully, for Mets fans, the Mr. Second-Half of 2008 Delgado.
Who's Looking to Prove Something?
To the disgust of all Mets fans, Luis Castillo is back in royal blue and orange. Above any player on the team, Castillo will be, and should be, looking to prove that he can still be an effective staple in the two-hole.
He has been the biggest disappointment to the Mets franchise and fanbase since the day they regrettably signed him to a four-year deal two seasons ago. He used to be an automatic .300 AVG 40-50 SB guy, but since coming to New York, he has been far from that.
On the other hand, I feel that up-and-coming hot shot Daniel Murphy also has something to prove. With the Mets' left field situation in question, Murphy will be platooning with old timer Fernando Tatis.
Many Mets fans believe the Mets should solidify their left field situation and sign somebody like Manny Ramirez. Murphy will be looking to prove everybody wrong and make the most of his upcoming playing opportunities.
Are There Any Weaknesses?
In my opinion, the Mets have the best lineup in the National League East, although there is always room for improvement.
Looking at the lineup carefully, Luis Castillo as the starting second baseman is an obvious weakness. With his inability to drive the ball with any authority at all, the Mets lack a solid sitting second baseman. To fix this problem, I feel that the Mets should buyout Castillo's contract and sign Orlando "O Dogg" Hudson.
Another weakness is the meager hitting ability at the catching position. A recent article reveals that the Mets are looking to deal backup catcher and team funnyman Ramon Castro, leaving them with Brian Schneider and Robinson Cancel. I feel the Mets should sign Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez in order to fill this hole.
The Final Verdict
As I peruse through the lineups of the other teams in the National League East, there is no other lineup that I would rather have than the Mets' lineup right now. No other lineup has the speed of Reyes at the top, the power of Wright, Beltran, and Delgado though the middle, and the depth that Ryan Church provides after the big boppers.