Mets fans now just kind of shrugging at weird news

Today Jerry Manuel, for the second straight offseason, said he’d consider batting Jose Reyes third.

Matt Cerrone followed with a poll, and his readers are currently split right down the middle on whether it’s a good idea. It’s actually 50-percent yes and 50-percent no after 3540 votes. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before.

Obviously it’s a bit more complex than a straight yes-or-no, good idea/bad idea thing, which might be the source of the Met fan ambivalance. It’s certainly the source of mine.

I’ve always assumed Reyes would develop a little more power as he aged. I don’t have a ton of evidence to back that up, but he’s impressively broad if you see him up close, and it feels like when he does hit home runs, they’re not ones that just edge over the wall — he knocks the crap out of ’em.

That’s a biased and unscientific assessment, but I’m open to Manuel’s notion that Reyes, if healthy for a full season in 2010, could produce a few more extra-base hits than we’ve come to expect from him.

The thing is, if he’s not going to be batting leadoff, he damn well better be replaced by someone who gets on-base as frequently as he does. I touched on this a little last week: The most important quality for a leadoff hitter is not actually speed, but the ability to get on base.

So if Luis Castillo, David Wright or Jason Bay is manning the leadoff spot, I suppose I’m cool with Jose hitting third. Since no one else is likely to post a higher OBP, no one else should lead off.

I’m looking at you, Angel Pagan.

Since there’s no chance Wright or Bay will lead off, that pretty much leaves Castillo. He’s not a lock to get on base at a higher clip than Reyes, but even on his old knees he’s a decent fit to bat leadoff. He’ll certainly find his way to first base with some frequency, and it’s not like he has any power that would go to waste at the top of the order.

I still like him as a ninth hitter with Reyes leading off, since that’d be a good way to make use of Castillo’s OBP and then, after the first time through the order, Reyes’ power, while maximizing Reyes’ at-bats. But that’s probably not happening.

And I’ll settle on the status quo on this one: Let Reyes do his thing, leading off and stealing bases and making things fun to watch. If he’s going to start hitting for more power, make him force the issue. That’s a good type of problem to have.

4 thoughts on “Mets fans now just kind of shrugging at weird news

  1. Ted, I believe that he just wants to bat Jose third while Beltran is out and Pagan is in the lineup to lead-off. I voted yes on that assumption, although your colleague failed to word his poll question accordingly.

    • Agreed, I do believe this is only for the month or do beltran will miss. I don’t think anyone is suggesting Reyes change his approach or hit for more power. They just want him do do what he does, in the 3 hole for the first month.

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