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.