My 2009 New York Mets Expectations at the Plate

Chuck Fiello Jr.Correspondent IFebruary 5, 2009

With Spring Training for the 2009 baseball season fast approaching, I thought I would analyze the New York Mets batting order.  After two straight seasons where the team had a sizable lead in the National League East but failed to win it, fans are left wondering what’s next for this club.  So what should exactly should we expect offensively in 2009?

If I were the Mets manager Jerry Manuel and managing this team, here is the lineup I would start off with when the season begins, barring a preseason injury.  I also expect this lineup to change based on who is hot at the time and possibly the pitching.  The lineup contains three switch hitters, one right hander, and four left handers to give a little bit more to experiment with throughout the season. 

Starting Lineup with last year’s stats:

1.     Jose Reyes .297 with 16 HR, 68 RBI, and 56 SB

2.     David Wright .302, 33 HR, and 124 RBI

3.     Carlos Beltran .284, 27 HR, and 112 RBI

4.     Carlos Delgado .271, 38 HR, and 115 RBI

5.     Ryan Church .276, 12 HR, and 49 RBI

6.     Luis Castillo .245, 3 HR and 28 RBI

7.     Daniel Murphy .312, 2 HR, and 17 RBI

8.     Brian Schneider .257, 9 HR, and 38 RBI

9.     Pitcher

Biggest Potential Strengths:

Biggest Reasons For Concern:

In my opinion, I think the answer for both questions is the same thing, the bottom half of the lineup.  The top four guys are potential all stars every year so of course there are high expectations for all of them.  The bottom half last year combined for only 26 total home runs. 

Daniel Murphy, who made his debut August 2 last year, is given a chance to prove himself and personally, I think he will excel and bat around the .280 range.  Ryan Church hitting .276 last season is great for a guy who has the youth and potential many hoped for when the Mets acquired him. 

Can Castillo be healthy or would the Mets be better served to pursue Orlando Hudson as many people report to be in the hunt despite Castillo being an $18 million road block?  What can Alex Cora and Fernando Tatis contribute off the bench?  Tatis hitting .297 last season sure helps when you’re looking down that bench and trying to decide on a pinch hitter or left fielder if Murphy does struggle through the season. 

Most To Prove in 2009:

I think obviously Luis Castillo would lead this category.  He has a big contract and need to contribute big or else I expect the Mets to look elsewhere when the trade deadline approaches.  G.M. Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel made little movement based on their confidence in this team and I don’t expect them to sit and take it if they show signs of struggling. 

I also think Carlos Delgado has to prove to many critics that he is capable of being successful at the plate.  Many doubted him and his age but he proved at times to be the spark plug this team needed at the plate last season.  He led the team in home runs with 38 and I don’t expect that number to drop much because it will be too hard to pitch around him with Wright and Beltran in front of you, hopefully already on base.

Best Hitters In Pressure Situation:

The obvious answer to this would be the top three in the lineup, which is why they are there. They also hit no less than .284 last season and combined for 96 stolen bases so anytime they are up, they are a threat to get on base and score.  Jose Reyes is one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball and can hurt you with his bat or his legs when he gets on base. 

David Wright is the face of this team and with that responsibility, comes some responsibility and I expect him to step up.  Carlos Beltran still has top tier potential in this league and I fully expect 2009 to be the year he makes the all star game with some big stats.  With Wright and Reyes ahead of him, he will have many chances to pad his RBI stats and should lead the league when it’s all said and done.

Overall 2009 Expectations:

I expect anything less than the playoffs this year would be a disappointment and this team will finally reach that goal.  I think the confidence in the pitching will help everyone and don’t be shocked if you wake up and this team is in the World Series this upcoming season.