Monday, July 12, 2010

All-Star Break

Some thoughts about the Mets as they start a three-day vacation and I get back to work:

* I know I've been telling anyone who will listen that Carlos Beltran was not going to play in 2010, but it looks like he will be activated in time for Thursday night's game. Am I surprised? Absolutely. Am I convinced he will make it through the rest of the season? Not at all.

That's why the news that Angel Pagan is the new starting right fielder and that Jeff Francouer is going to ride the pine may not mean all that much. Beltran is going to need extra rest anyway, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Frenchy start twice a week on a regular basis. If and when Beltran's knee succumbs to everyday abuse, Pagan will just switch back to center field and Francouer will be back in the starting lineup.

Until then, kudos to management for realizing that Pagan is unquestionably the better player and absolutely should be starting over Francouer. They actually make a devastating platoon - Francouer has a .348/.403/.449 line against lefties and Pagan has an .333/.397/.510 line against righties. Maybe Frenchy should also start shagging fly balls in center field and right field. Bay-Beltran-Pagan is surely the best starting outfield we have, but Francouer would be a reasonably valuable fourth outfielder if he played all three positions and could platoon against lefties.

* Ruben Tejada has shown that he has the potential to be a productive major league middle infielder, but it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if he finished the season in Buffalo once Luis Castillo returns. The biggest problem I see is that it will basically ensure that Alex Cora's contract option will vest and Cora will end up blocking Tejada in 2011 if that happens.

Someone will also need to tell Jerry Manuel that, once Castillo returns, he has to bat eighth. Pagan has earned the #2 spot in the lineup and to move him down to accommodate Castillo's Punch-and-Judy act will hurt the team.

The ideal lineup for this team, once Beltran returns, is Reyes-Pagan-Wright-Beltran-Bay-Davis-Barajas-2B-P. I like Ike breaking up the two right-handed bats, especially since he has come back down to earth a bit and may benefit from hitting a little lower down in the lineup.

* If John Maine ever wants to pitch in the major leagues again, it will almost certainly include a stint in Triple-A. I can't see him getting anything more than a minor-league contract in 2011. He would be crazy not to make 10 starts for Buffalo this summer and try to force his way into the September mix for the Mets. Otherwise, you may never see him in a major league uniform again.


JP said...

Don't you think Thole/Blanco provide better overall value than Barajas?

TW said...

1. I told you so, and i don't hate saying it.

1a. Its actually a killer outfield rotation. I know they prefer Carter's power to Feliciano's slap tendency and jerry likes the 3-catcher monty (which, with the way Barajas has slowed down and Thole has hit, is not a bad move for what has been, at least thus far a hot summer) but I would eventually like to have seen them send Thole down and keep Feliciano up.

2. Cora should be DFA'd and Tejada should finish the year out in the majors. He has shown the ability to do Cora's job better. Castillo, with the other guaranteed year is still a spring away from being valueable to someone, and with Reyes' oblique becoming a recurring issue, I want the best player available to spell him. That's Tejada.

2a. The mistake that has been left uncorrected is Tatis (currently not a problem on the DL). DFAing him is what is in order here. Correc me if I'm wrong but hasn't Bay played first in his time? And could we get by with Tejada at third in a pinch? Emergency situations only, of course, seeing as the two guys who normally play those positions aren't going to be sitting much. It allows for Carter, Tejada, Feliciano and Thole on the bench, all of which have contributed positively, and consistently.

3. Manuel had made it clear when Beltran first start seriously rehabbing that Pagan would hold down the two hole from here on in provided he was in the lineup that day. Of course when if Reyes continues to sit, Pagan leads off. Benefits of being unemployed and shackled to sports radio.

4. We have to hope that Bay will get something to hit sandwiched between Beltran and Davis. Its the most logical lineup, whether you give any creedence to splitting righties or not.

5. Are we still talking about Maine? Really?

Jack Flynn said...

JP: I may be in the minority, but I'd really rather see Thole catching everyday in the minors for the rest of the season. He's still basically learning the trade and I don't think he has earned enough trust to get 60 or 70 percent of the starts in the second half. I will feel better about Thole going forward if he puts up another .800 OPS by the end of the Triple-A season.

Jack Flynn said...

TW: You can swap out Tatis for Mike Hessman at some point to right that wrong.