New York Mets: An Early Evaluation

Michael GanciCorrespondent IMay 9, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 08:  Jose Reyes #7 and Carlos Delgado #21 of the New York Mets celebrate after scoring in the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 8, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Pirates 7-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Going into their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates today, the Mets have won five straight, and spirits are high for the fan nation in Queens. I have decided that now would be an excellent time to take a look at the Mets starting lineup on an individual basis and evaluate each player’s performance with a grade and an explanation.

1) Jose Reyes

Grade: B-

Explanation: Reyes has been mired in a slump, but lately, he has shown some signs of coming out of it. Last night, he was the man that started the big outburst for the Mets that led to their game-winning rally. He has to go with the pitch and remember that it is his job to get on base.

I am sure it is just only a matter of time before his dreadful .254 batting average climbs up to a respectable number. Another dreadful number that Reyes needs to improve upon is his average with two outs and runners in scoring position, which is an astonishing .067.

The most impressive thing about the Mets’ recent hot streak is the fact that they have seemingly been doing it without Reyes, which shows they’re capable of anything once Reyes clicks.

2) Daniel Murphy

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Grade: A-

Explanation: There were many questions going into the season about whether or not the Mets made the right decision in showing so much faith in the 24-year old Murphy, but to this point, he has shown that they definitely made the right decision.

Although his defense has been a bit suspect at times, he certainly has made up for it at the plate. His .311 average is definitely satisfactory, and the fact that he has only struck out seven times in 90 at-bats is astonishing.

The reason that Murphy is not graded an A is because of his defense, which is showing signs of improvement, as well as the fact that he is batting only .237 with runners on base. He is going to need that number to rise to prove that he can be clutch.

3) Carlos Beltran

Grade: A

Explanation: Beltran has undoubtedly been the best offensive player on the Mets thus far. There’s no way around it. He has had an MVP-caliber start to his season.

His .377 average is one of the best in the big leagues, and he is showing no signs of slowing down. Beltran has been the most consistent player on the Mets ever since signing that monster deal after the 2004 season.

He is arguably the best defensive center fielder in baseball, and he truly defines what a five-tool player really is.

What impresses me most about Beltran has been his demeanor, as his expression never seems to change, even though he is batting .382 with runners in scoring position. With a .472 on base percentage, he just can’t be much hotter right now.

If I were to hand out awards, he would certainly be the MVP of the squad, with a certain guy named Santana finishing a close second.

4) Carlos Delgado

Grade: A-

Explanation: Delgado has been on a torrid pace ever since the season began. Although he saw his batting average dip a bit when he was battling the hip problems, he has returned and played with pain, but the numbers would seem to indicate that he feels fine. With 23 RBI through 24 games, Delgado is on an inhuman pace.

Of course, that won’t be maintained, but he has a point to prove in his contract season. Although he was stellar last season, many people still think that it was a fluke. Delgado could certainly use the motivation.

The biggest number that impresses me with Delgado is his average with two outs and runners in scoring position. He is batting .375 in such situations, and he has made an adjustment in his swing to go the other way when he needs to, which has made him a much more dangerous hitter.

5) David Wright

Grade: B

Explanation: David has really been an enigma to this point of the season. While his .302 batting wouldn’t indicate that anything is wrong with his approach, there are definitely problems that we need to be concerned with.

First of all, David has struck out 32 times already in just 28 games. That is downright alarming. Also, with runners in scoring position and two outs, David is batting just .190.

Also, one thing I distinctly remember about David’s earlier days is that he was known to be an excellent hitter, even on 0-2. But this year, David is batting .105 after the count is 0-2. We all know that David will hit better and strike out less than he’s been, but hopefully that change will come sooner rather than later.

6) Ryan Church

Grade: C+

Explanation: Church has been getting a lot of time off lately, and rightfully so. He has been very susceptible to the off speed pitches, and he looks completely off balance. He is batting a terrible .130 with runners in scoring position, and if Gary Sheffield’s tough luck ends any time soon, Church may be bestowed as the team’s fourth outfielder.

For now though, the Mets are giving him the shot. My hunch is that he will come out of it soon, and he will assume the role of every day right fielder.

7) Ramon Castro

Grade: B+

Explanation: Castro has shown up this season with a new body and a new attitude. He is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, and he has decided that he would come to camp motivated to stay healthy.

Thus far, he has been a pleasant surprise, batting over .300, while basically being the Mets’ everyday catcher. He is batting .308 with runners in scoring position, and he is making us all want to forget about Brian Schneider and his terrible hitting.

8) Luis Castillo

Grade: A-

Explanation: Castillo has been a guy who has responded to criticism. People were all saying that signing him was a mistake, and he was on a mission to prove everyone that the Mets didn’t make a mistake. He definitely has avoided the boo birds thus far.

While hitting .319, Castillo has been a tough guy to get out. In 72 at-bats, he has struck out only seven times, and he has put together plenty of good at-bats. His .402 on base percentage is admirable, and he has been the Castillo of old.

Overall: The Mets are on a roll, and hopefully they can move forward with the same momentum. Once Jose Reyes, David Wright and Ryan Church get righted, the Mets’ lineup will be on heck of a force to be reckoned with.


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