According to MLB.com, Mets manager Jerry Manuel is leaning toward batting Daniel Murphy second in the Mets lineup to begin the 2009 season.
Earlier this winter, Manuel hinted shortstop Jose Reyes might bat third. While every indication shows that he is returning to the top of the lineup, I was beginning to warm to the idea that Reyes could provide speed in the middle of the order with guys like Wright, Delgado, and Beltran right behind him.
If Reyes was going to bat third, I would welcome with open arms the possibility of Murphy batting second.
Otherwise, there's no benefit.
With Murphy batting second, the lineup looks like something close to this:
Reyes, Murphy, Wright, Delgado, Beltran, Church, Schneider, Castillo, Pitcher
This is a great lineup, however, the bottom of the order is used inefficiently. Castillo has been shining this spring, but putting him right before the pitcher does not allow him to use his strong ability to get on base to the Mets' full advantage. Schneider would prove to be an easy out where the Mets would still probably have runners on base.
With Castillo batting second, the lineup looks like something close to this:
Reyes, Castillo, Wright, Delgado, Beltran, Church, Murphy, Schneider, Pitcher
This lineup is stronger. Reyes, with a .358 OBP last year, and Castillo, with a career OBP of .367, set the table nicely for the heart of the order. After Beltran, Church is a solid hitter that will get his share of RBIs in the six hole.
Murphy, if he continues his solid hitting from 2008, will also get a good amount of chances for RBIs from the seventh spot.
In this order, the Mets would use Murphy as a contact hitter rather than a guy to get on base. Castillo has been doing that his whole career, and have proved to be successful at it. Murphy, if he continues his success from 2008, is a solid hitter much like Church.
Murphy is being compared to great hitters already in his young career. The Mets can ride his success and use his hitting and work ethic to their advantage to get runs in the bottom of their order.
One good thing about lineups is that a manager is free to change it from day to day. If one order doesn't click, he can change it up for the next day. However, with a tight race all but guaranteed in the National League East, the Mets can't afford to lose a day fixing something that could already be fixed.