Pitchers and catchers will report in a matter of hours. This means Spring Training and the 2009 MLB season will have begun by the time I wake up tomorrow. I want to share my opinion of what I think the Mets lineup should be, and do a short breakdown of each player.
No. 1—Jose Reyes, SS
The energetic Reyes, without a doubt, sets the tone for the rest of the team. It seems whenever he gets on base, the runs score themselves. Reyes provides production in hitting for average, stolen bases, fielding, and the occasional home run.
One particular area he has improved on over the last few years is the number of walks he earns. In 2005, Reyes played in 161 games, but drew only 27 walks. Last season he drew 66, and 77 in 2007.
The key to Reyes' success is him staying healthy. The last time he missed any significant time was 2006 when he missed 12 games total.
No. 2—Luis Castillo, 2B
For now, Castillo is still the Mets second baseman. Whether that continues until Opening Day is still in question. The 33-year-old missed much of last season with injury, causing the Mets to explore other options at the position.
Quite frankly, I don't think Castillo will be in New York when April comes around, but there are no alternatives for this spot right now.
No. 3—Carlos Beltran, CF
This is where things get tricky. Beltran, Delgado, and Wright will occupy the 3-4-5 spots. The question is, who will fill which spot? Beltran should be in the third slot, because he is a bigger threat for stolen bases, and Wright provides better protection for Delgado.
Beltran has been an outstanding fielder for the Mets, and no one can take that away from him. His batting, however, has been pretty hit-or-miss (no pun intended). Beltran will need to hit for a higher average and more effectively in clutch situations.
No. 4—Carlos Delgado, 1B
Mets fans were delighted to see a resurgent Delgado in August and September of last season. He practically carried the team through those two months. Even though it was not good enough to earn the Mets a playoff spot, their failure to make the postseason cannot be blamed on Delgado.
He put up the type of numbers the Mets organization expected when he was acquired in 2006. Not only did he produce, but he played in 159 games. That type of stamina is what the Mets will be looking for from all of their players in 2009.
No. 5—David Wright, 3B
The face of the franchise should find himself hitting behind Delgado, and if he doesn't, then something is terribly wrong. Delgado needs to get good pitches in order to produce. He does not do well when pitchers try to paint the corners or pitch around him.
Enter David Wright. No pitcher (or manager) is going to want to walk Delgado or give him nothing to hit when the wonder boy, David Wright, is waiting on deck. You know the phrase "Pick your poison?" It was made just for the Mets' 3-4-5 hitters.
No. 6—Ryan Church, RF
A virtual hitting machine before suffering major concussions, Church is eager to get back to playing full-time. 2008 was a very frustrating season for him, never really recovering from a concussion he suffered in Spring Training, and then another one in May.
Church is entering the prime of his career and could be an X-factor for the Mets. He is known for his patience at the plate, drawing 33 walks in just 90 games last year.
No. 7—Daniel Murphy, LF
Murphy is a promising talent at the plate and in the field. In 49 games last season, he averaged .313 at the plate, drove in 17 runs, and scored 24 runs. With more playing time and more exposure to the league's pitchers, Murphy will prove to be a great addition to the Mets organization.
No. 8—Brian Schneider, C
Known more for his defensive skills than offensive prowess, Schneider's contribution to the team is hard to quantify. He handles the pitching staff very well and is nothing short of outstanding defensively. His offensive numbers are respectable for the catcher, and for a No. 8 hitter.
Like most catchers, injury is Schneider's Achilles heel. If you remember, Schneider came over in the same deal that brought Ryan Church to Flushing and sent Lastings Milledge packing (just thought I'd give Omar Minaya a nice pat on the back for that move).
This concludes my preview of the Mets lineup. Like most Mets fans, I will do anything to avoid another disappointing ending.