Oliver Perez is out of the rotation? Check. Jose Reyes is back in the leadoff spot? Check. Angel Pagan is batting third tonight? Now, hold on for just a minute ...
This really shouldn't be so difficult. You have to make the best of a bad situation, and only one lineup really makes sense for the Mets, considering that Carlos Beltran is never coming back, the right fielder and the catcher cannot hit and the second baseman has less punch than a flyweight.
That's it. Jose likes hitting leadoff? Fine, leave him there. The problem is the complete lack of understanding that Luis Castillo's skill set best suits him for the #8 spot, not the #2 spot. He has a .290 slugging percentage, for God's sake. I don't have a problem with station-to-station baseball, as long as the batter in question will hit 20 to 30 home runs a year. I do have a problem with station-to-station baseball when the best the batter can do is slap singles or hope that the pitcher throws four balls out of strike zone.
I want fewer at-bats for Luis Castillo, not more. Castillo can serve as a "lead-off hitter" from the #8 spot and let the pitchers work on getting him in scoring position via the sacrifice. If you think that's a stupid idea, ask yourself why you think it's a good idea for #2 hitters to be "contact hitters" who "get the runner over." An out is an out, my friends - best to purposely commit one as few times as possible.
Pagan can bat second; he may get on base a little less often than Castillo, but will hit the ball harder and advance Reyes further when he does. I know David Wright is striking out too often, but he's also leading the league in walks and is on pace for a 30-30 season despite his struggles. The Mets got Jason Bay to hit like a cleanup hitter - the back of his baseball card says he'll start doing so before the end of the season.
After that, you fill the 5-6-7 holes in order of quality remaining. Ike Davis is clearly better than Francouer and Barajas and you need a left-handed bat to break up the string of righties. It is a testament to how bad a hitter Rod Barajas is that I think Jeff Francouer should be batting ahead of him in an ideal lineup. If Gary Matthews was a competent baseball player, I'd bat him sixth and use Frenchie as a defensive replacement. He isn't, so I won't.