I made this point in my State of the Union Address today, and I think it needs to be expanded on.
As I sit here watching the Amazins put the finishing touches on a 5-3 victory over the Florida Marlins, I can't help but take a closer look at who is in the lineup tonight.
In case you didn't catch the game, here's the squad Willie Randolph put on the field tonight, in no particular order:
Reyes - SS
Evans - LF
Castillo - 2b
Wright - 3b
Easley - 1b
Beltran - CF
Tatis - RF
Castro - C
Santana - P
Notice anything interesting about that group of players?
That's right people, three bench players and a rookie call-up. Half of the position players who played tonight have been deemed "bench players".
My question to the Mets is, why?
Tatis is 6-14 since coming up from Triple A. Easley has been great off the bench throughout his tenure in New York, and would have had outstanding numbers last season if not for that gruesome ankle injury.
Castro had two RBI tonight, both coming with two outs, the second one providing a huge insurance run late in the ballgame. Tatis also had two RBI tonight, and Easley went 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
The beauty of these three guys was seeing them manufacture the team's final run. Easley started the rally with a single, and Tatis was hit by a pitch. Castro then came through with a base hit, and Tatis went all the way to third, displaying the hustle on the basepaths that Mets fans have so desperately wanted.
These three guys had a hand in all five of the Mets runs tonight. Is it merely a coincidence that Carlos Delgado was not in the lineup for two of his patented rally-killing strikeouts? Maybe. But like most intelligent Mets fans, I highly, highly doubt it.
This lineup flowed well tonight, and it all goes back to my point. These guys are all players with something to prove.
Castro is a career backup, who has rightly felt for some time he should be playing on a more consistent basis.
Granted, Schneider has been solid defensively and manages the staff very well, but there's no reason why Castro's role can't increase.
The same can be said for Easley and Tatis. Easley has been great at every position the Mets have placed him at, so there's no reason why his role shouldn't increase as well. Tatis has been extremely productive thus far, so why not place him in the lineup more often?
The underlying theme here is that guys who are not considered "every day players" are coming through with the big hits, showing the fire, and hustling more than the "every day players".
Why shouldn't Delgado and Easley platoon at first base? Why can't Easley also platoon with Castillo at second base? Why can't Tatis assume right field duties until Church returns? Why can't Castro play twice a week instead of once?
These guys all have something to prove, and that's why they're playing harder—and better—than some of the guys who are playing every day for this team.
My message to Willie Randolph: Show some cojones and put the exact same lineup out there tomorrow. It not only lets the regulars know that their spots aren't set in stone, but it helps the reserves to know that if they do play well, they'll get in the lineup on a regular basis.
It worked tonight, so why mess with it?