BY MICHAEL GANCI
If the Mets are going to be successful in 2009, they are going to need to be good at doing the little things. Some things that fall into this category are sacrifice bunts, sacrifice flies and even grounders to the right side. These are some areas that the Mets struggled in in 2008, and they may have won several more games if they executed the little things. Players that are going to be key in this are Daniel Murphy and Luis Castillo.
It really all depends on who is the number two hitter, and it depends on what Jose Reyes does before them. For example, if Reyes triples, the number two hitter should try to put the ball in play up the middle, because even if the ball is fielded, the Mets will be able to secure the run. If Reyes hits a double, a grounder to the right side would serve the number two hitter well. Reyes would advance to third and the Mets would have David Wright and Carlos Delgado coming up with two chances to drive the run home.
If Reyes singles, on the other hand, the number two hitter needs to be patient to give Reyes the opportunity to get a read on the pitcher, and then if Reyes steals second base, they can proceed accordingly. Another key to playing small ball is sacrifice bunting, and the people who try to do that most often are the pitchers, and the Mets have a couple of guys who can use a serious improvement.
The two hitters I am satisfied with in the starting staff are Johan Santana and Livan Hernandez, but John Maine and Oliver Perez have been terrible at execution. Sure, they will get a hit every now and again, but they both struggle with their bunting, which should be their main concern when they come to the plate.
The final aspect of small ball is sacrifice flies. When there is a runner on third and less than two outs, the batter needs to hit the ball either up the middle or into the outfield. This requires patience, because if you are trying to hit a fly ball, you are more likely to pop it up, and it would have been a wasted opportunity.
This team needs to execute more. Plain and simple. That is the key to winning the championship that has evaded their grasp since 1986.