April 23.10: Chat Room, Game #17 vs. Braves: Reyes hitting third.

I am not a second guesser and won’t start tonight. So let me go on record now – and again – before the game to denounce the move of Jose Reyes to the third spot in the order.

It will be the first time since 2005 Reyes will bat anywhere other than leadoff.

I don’t care if Reyes gets on four times tonight, I believe in the long term this move will inevitably backfire because eventually it will force the speedy shortstop outside his game.

Reyes, arguably the game’s premier leadoff hitter, is being asked to take his skills to the third slot under the guise of getting more fastballs for the struggling Jason Bay.

You see, explains Manuel, Bay’s problems stem from not getting enough fastballs, and putting a base stealer ahead of him theoretically will get those fastballs. Just out of curiosity, who was the great base stealer ahead of him in Boston? Was it David Ortiz?

For years, the Mets have been telling anybody who would listen Reyes is their offensive catalyst, that him at the top of the order is what gets the team going. So, naturally, when Reyes is just starting to feel comfortable they move him to a position with the high potential of inducing bad plate habits.

However, Reyes insists he’s not going to do all the things when one plays outside himself after being moved to a run-producing slot in the order. There will be no poor pitch selection, no trying to loft the ball and pull, no trying to hit home runs.

Throughout his career Reyes has fallen into these habits after hitting a home run or two. Willie Randolph used to cringe whenever Reyes homered.

“I’m going to be me,’’ Reyes insists. “I’m going to take it like I’m going to be leadoff. He explained it to me. I said, `I don’t have a problem Jerry.’ ’’

Easier said than done. When thrust into an unfamiliar role it is human nature to want to live up to the dynamics of that role. The No. 3 hitter is supposed to be your best hitter, one with the combination of average and power. It is not a speed position.

For the Mets, that player is a healthy Carlos Beltran, and in his absence, David Wright.

But we’re going to get Reyes, who even under ideal circumstances sometimes swings too long.

It will be very easy to fall into bad habits in this role.

A less dramatic solution would be to move Bay out of the clean-up slot, perhaps to No. 2, or maybe temporarily sixth. Instead of moving the player with the problem, the Mets’ solution is to juggle the entire line-up. Not only will Reyes move, but also Wright, Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan.

There are other options, but none would fill the leadoff slot as well as Reyes. So, in essence the Mets are weakening two slots in the batting order with this gamble.

The Mets’ offense hasn’t been doing well, but the team had won three of its last four games. Most of the Mets’ problems when they lose have been pitching related.

If John Maine spits the bit tonight, it probably won’t matter what Reyes and Bay do.

Nobody with the Mets – not just Bay – failed to hit against the Cardinals. So, why didn’t Manuel do this then? Oh yeah, because Reyes said he was uncomfortable in that role.

Here’s tonight’s line-up for the Mets:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
John Maine, RP

52 thoughts on “April 23.10: Chat Room, Game #17 vs. Braves: Reyes hitting third.

  1. everything u say is true.

    sybil is doing the right thing and jose will continue to hit as he always has

    they are juggling the lineup for the right reasons and the mets will win the pennant

  2. I wouldn’t want to put you in the role of a second guesser, but what if “speedy” is no longer an applicable adjective for Reyes?

    From what I’ve seen of him over an admittedly small sample this year, he seems to lost not only a step, but his nerve as well. On a few occasions, he’s hit grounders into the hole at short — plays he would routinely beat out in the past — and hasn’t even made the play close at first. Once on base, he’s looked quite tentative, as evidenced by only three SB attempts. (Anybody remember that botched double-steal in which Castillo took off for second, only to find Reyes retreating to the same base? These two have only been together in the lineup for three years now, so such confusion is readily understandable among them. Clearly, Castillo must have been over-aggressive, right?) Indeed, Mr. “Speedy” is currently on pace to steal about 30 bags this year.

  3. When you have a terrific leadoff hitter in Reyes, why mess with it by putting him in the 3rd spot? It’s like the year the Mets thought utility infielder Keith Miller would be able to play center fulltime. That lasted about six weeks.

    Besides, the Mets have the perfect candidate in Rod Barajas.

  4. Dan (7): Reyes is one of the few players where there’s no questions about his game when he’s healthy. So, why add questions?-JD

  5. I think I will throw a party the day Larry Jones retires and stops tormenting us.

  6. (4) I don’t think it has anything to do with getting Bay more fastballs; certainly, Bay wasn’t slumping and in need of fastballs when this was originally proposed in February. Rather, I think this has everything to do with accepting the idea that Reyes is no longer the speed threat he was once and transitioning him accordingly.

  7. FOURTH INNING: Maine doesn’t want to leave, but if there’s an injury it can only get worse if he stays in. Manuel had no choice but to protect his player.-JD

  8. Maine coming out in the fourth with an injury after pitching very well. This must fall between the plaques of hail and frogs that Moses called down on to Pharaoh.

  9. dave (20): Something with Maine’s left arm. There’s been nothing from the Mets on the nature of the injury. … Davis’ homer was very impressive, measured at 450 feet.-JD

  10. (20) He’s doing his homework for that poetry class he’s taking on Monday nights. He’ll be back once he finishes “Ode to Carlos Beltran on an October Night.”

  11. i think the batting order just need an adjustment, and this is the right move for jerry.

  12. The curve from Wainwright
    Couldn’t have been much bolder
    If only Beltran
    Had taken the bat off his shoulder

  13. I’ve been watching. Had to log on to see if you’d said it yet, John. But you haven’t. So I will:

    I don’t believe what I just saw.

  14. A QUICK WRAP/Game #17

    FINAL: Mets 5, Braves 2.
    RECORD: 8-9.
    THUMBNAIL ANALYSIS: John Maine wasn’t effective before leaving the game in the fourth with muscle spasms. … The Mets’ offense showed signs of life, but were aided by four Atlanta errors.
    ON THE MOUND: Maine gave up a run on four hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings. … Reliever Hisanori Takahashi struck out seven.
    AT THE PLATE: Ike Davis hit his first career homer. … Jose Reyes and Jason Bay hit back-to-back triples in the sixth.
    IN THE FIELD: The Braves were sloppy with four errors and screwing up the infield fly rule.
    LOOKING AHEAD: Jon Niese starts tomorrow afternoon.-JD