Here are your 2009 New York Mets!
Leading off, the short stop…Wilson Valdez?
If that had been announced on opening day, it would have set a record for most confused fans in a ballpark. Some people are still in a quandary over who these new additions really are. Since most of them aren’t creating a Benny Agbayani-type impact, it may be tough to make an adjustment to some of these new faces.
It seems like the Mets present a brand spanking new lineup to the field everyday.
One day, Alex Cora will bat lead-off, with Murphy playing first base and batting fifth, Fernando Martinez batting seventh in either left or right field (usually switching within mid-game), and somewhere plugged in is either Omir Santos or Brian Schneider.
The next day, Fernando Martinez will bat second and play the opposite corner outfield position he did the following game. Santos and Schneider will be switched again, and Tatis will be put somewhere randomly in the lineup (including clean-up).
After a 2-of-4 road trip against two teams sitting well below .500, the Mets need to rediscover an identity.
For starters, they have Ryan Church back in the lineup to play right field everyday. The kind of player Church is, is exactly what they miss.
He’s a perfect six-spot guy in the lineup to bat behind David Wright. Church greeted himself back into the lineup doubling in a run in his first at-bat back from injuring his hamstring.
All the pitches Wright won’t receive, Church will. We’ve seen Church get on smoking hot streaks. The potential for him to be beneficial is certainly existent. Now it needs to become imminent.
The rest of the Mets lineup has been a toss up.
Beyond David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Luis Castillo, no one seems to have a guaranteed spot. First base and shortstop have become the toughest roles to fill due to the injuries Delgado and Reyes have endured. When Reyes went down, Cora followed. Then the backup’s backup, Ramon Martinez went down due to injury. Thankfully it was the day Cora came back from his DL stint.
Since then, it’s been a game of shuffle board.
Cora and Valdez have been swapping bench seats on a nightly basis and it’s making some Met fans want to swap channels. The average fan gets turned off by constant lineup changes.
Take my father for instance. He knows the team pretty well, but he isn’t your typical Mets maniac. Because the Mets aren’t playing the same guys at the same positions, he’ll lose his interest in watching the contests.
Yeah, Jerry doesn’t set lineups to accommodate television ratings. But when the ratings plummet, it usually means something's wrong.
It’s hard for guys like Cora and Valdez, Murphy and Tatis, Santos and Schneider, and Martinez and Sheffield to get in a rhythm when they don’t play everyday. This also takes away from the bench player prowess. To be a bench player, you need to develop the mindset of one.
Right now, Jeremy Reed stands as the single everyday bench guy. Most of these guys mentioned above are bench players by trade or minor leaguers. They aren’t used to the mindset of going out and playing seven games in a week.
Instead of toying with eight players, use four of them as your mold. Put out the same eight field players everyday in the same lineup spot.
Let them learn what pitches they’ll see, batting behind who. From there, your mold solidifies, and hopefully works. If it doesn’t, then go back to the drawing board.
There’s plenty of baseball left to play, use that time to an advantage.
This is the time of year the players have formed bonds and learned each others body language on and off the field. When it’s tough for a player to remember whose out in right field, the chemistry is clearly vacant.
Chemistry wins ballgames, not batting lefties against righties and vice versa. Plain and simple. It’s chemistry. If you cannot develop the chemistry, then you won’t see wins to follow.
Try this lineup on for size as your everyday group. Maybe you switch the catcher spot on a day game after night game, but everything else should stay put.
1. Luis Castillo, 2B
2. Alex Cora, SS
3. Carlos Beltran, CF
4. Gary Sheffield, LF
5. David Wright, 3B
6. Ryan Church, RF
7. Omir Santos, C
8. Daniel Murphy, 1B
9. Ken Takahashi, P (Okay, maybe not.)
Randy Sobel is a contributor to HowBoutThemMets.com and can be reached at Randy.Sobel@gmail.com.