Manuel Poised to Make a Big Decision?

ed feverCorrespondent IApril 27, 2009

As seen on NY Mets Global.

Tonight’s lineup will feature Fernando Tatis batting second and playing second, Gary Sheffield in left batting sixth, and Omir Santos catching and batting eighth.

With Brian Schneider expected back this Sunday, Manuel appears to be giving Santos as many opportunities as possible to prove that he, and not Castro, belongs on the club.

With the Mets having looked to deal Castro all winter, Castro's struggles at and behind the plate this year, and the recent release of Marlon Anderson, it appears entirely possible that Santos and not Castro will be the Mets backup catcher when Schneider returns.

Additionally, with Tatis and Sheffield getting additional playing time, it begs the question whether or not Manuel is looking to go with a four man bench.

Manuel has already used his bullpen more than he would like, and has not ruled out the possibility of adding another arm. This early in the season, the Mets have already given auditions to Nelson Figueroa, Casey Fossum, and have Ken Takahahi joining the club. Tim Redding is expected to be ready to join the club in the next couple of weeks, and there certainly has been the possibility of Maine or Perez going to the pen. It appears that Manuel is putting himself in a position to make the most informed decision of who he will be able to count on in the pen and the starting rotation.

As for Tatis and Sheffield, they certainly provide the Mets with some pop in the bench. Sheffield has struggled so far at the plate, batting just .138. We have to ask the questions, "Are the next few days Gary’s last chance? Is Tatis’ playing time at second base his chance to prove that he can handle the infield duties of Alex Cora?"

If the Mets were to go to a four man bench, then they would have to decide between Sheffield or Cora. Jeremy Reed has proven that he can handle the bat in big situations, and his glove is too important as a defensive replacement, despite Daniel Murphy’s continued struggles. A backup catcher is a given, so that leaves just Tatis, Sheffield, and Cora on the bench.

Tatis proved himself last year as a dependable bat, and is hitting .250 in a limited number of at bats; however, his ability to play both the infield and the outfield is invaluable, especially with a short bench.

Cora’s offense is certainly the weakest of the bunch, and he is around solely for his defensive ability on the infield. So, if Tatis can handle first, second, and third, then Cora is expendable.

Lastly, Sheffield is a hitter. If he can’t hit, then there is no reason to carry him.

So the question is if Manuel is positioning himself to make some very crucial decisions. Or is this just a wacky Monday lineup?